Blessing From Broken Places
Apr 03, 2017 10:38AM
● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
April is wrought with good and bad memories for me, especially in recent years. My father’s birthday is in early April; his burial was toward the end of April. The events kick off memories around his death and burial that I’d rather forget. I had been doing so well, but as we turned a corner toward the end of March, I felt the need to “close my curtains” and only let safe people hold me close. "I will reemerge," I told myself. "I’ll get past this. It will be okay."
And while I was lamenting to a close friend, she told me she wants this April to be different for me, perhaps from this point forward. She recommended I "redeem" the pain.
So I am.
I bought two plants, and call me eccentric, but I gave them names and placed them in the window of the common room where I look outside all the time. I need to see something grow.
I restocked the bird feeder for the first time all winter. They haven’t found their way to it yet, but it’s ready for chickadees and cardinals to land in front of my window.
A friend of mine brought me a set of pansies, completely unaware of my resolve to make April great. They are bright yellow, the color of the sun, of life, of hope.
I bought a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of happy dogs to put together with my daughter on weekends.
And on my father’s birthday, I will go buy his favorite candy, nonpareils, and share it with my junior high Sunday School class.
I gave myself permission to not open certain emails, to say “no” to favors when I need to, to not answer the phone.
That’s all well and good and therapeutic, but how do I climb out of my own ruins and grow life from dead and dying things?
My answer this Lenten season and always is: Jesus!
Revelation 21:5, ESV
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Jesus was revealing His plans to the Apostle John in this scripture passage. Let me tell you something: The Bible says it, I believe it, and I’m completely banking on that! Here’s why:
Revelation 1:1-3, ESV
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near [emphasis mine].
I could hide through the next five or six weeks, popping out of my house-cave for Easter service and a nice meal.
But then "what is dead and dying" claims the victory.
And the Bible says that it didn’t.
The Bible says we have victory over dead and dying things because of what Christ completed on the cross for us.
John 19:30, ESV
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57, ESV
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
What better joy could there be than putting my ashes on God’s altar and asking Him to plant in them, to bring forth new life? Who better to ask than the living one?
Revelation 1:17-18, ESV
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades [emphasis mine].
What if redeeming April meant taking my hands off dead things—relationships, old dreams, thwarted plans—and letting Christ breathe fresh life—abundant life—into them?
John 10:10, ESV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Jesus doesn’t want us to live as deadened wood after the winter thaw, revealing our cracking and drying places. If we ask Him to pour out His Spirit, “living water,” into those seemingly lifeless places in us, He makes the dead alive again!
John 7:37-39, ESV
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Isaiah 44:3, ESV
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
In the spirit of taking what's broken and letting Jesus shape something new, I have a whole list of extravagant love planned, starting with hosting an Easter dinner (at a venue) for people like our family who don't have family to share it with, either due to geography or broken relationships.
I delivered two meals to friends this week.
I wrote cards to encourage people.
These things don’t make me great because they don’t come from Bonnie. They come from Christ, who I invited in to make my heart and deadened places green again. And from that place where my roots are well-watered, I am free:
to give extravagantly,
to not fear,
to make a difference,
to bless from my broken places.
God can revive dead things in your life. Some shoots will pop up quickly, while others need a bit more patience. God decides where the green grows; it grows toward the Son. All you have to do is plant your ashes, your ruin, in His soil.
I would love to hear about your choices to use pain, failure, brokenness as a jumping off point for seeing how you can bless and love others. Some folks won't receive the love of Christ you offer, but don't turn inward. Redirect it. There are hearts that need encouraging, lives needing change, hope needing a landing place. May I speak a prayer to you to go forth blessing from your broken places?
I bless you in the name of Jesus, with the new life He brings, to restore, refresh, renew, rescue, renovate, replenish. May you look to the Son and fill your cup with living water so much that it spills out all over you and those around you. Live life abundantly, in His peace.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.