Broken and Beautiful

by Fran Caffey Sandin

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12: 1 NIV

October’s birthstone is the opal. Light appears to emanate from the lovely gem when internal spacing of silica spheres, like broken chains, cause the diffraction of light to enhance various colors. In other words, the tiny open spaces inside the stone project a beautiful image.

This reminds me of broken things in the Bible that shine for God’s glory.

BROKEN JARS (Judges 7) The Lord directed Gideon to take 300 men to save the Israelites from the numerous Midianites. Gideon gave all the men trumpets and empty jars with torches inside them. When commanded, the men simultaneously blew their trumpets, smashed the jars, and with torches aflame, shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” The Midianites became confused, turned on each other with their swords, killing their own, and many ran away crying as they fled. The light within the jars could not be seen until those jars were broken.

BROKEN ALABASTER JAR (Mark 14: 1-9) Jesus was in Bethany two days before the Passover when the chief priests were secretly plotting to arrest and kill Him. While Jesus was in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on His head. Some guests were complaining that she had done a wasteful thing, but Jesus said, “She has done a beautiful thing. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. What she has done will be told in memory of her.” The scent from the oil only could be smelled until after the jar was broken.

BROKEN BODY (I Corinthians 11: 24) On the night Jesus was betrayed, He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body, which is broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.” Jesus gave himself so that all who believe in Him will be saved. His body was broken to redeem us from our sin.

BROKEN WILL (Psalm 51: 17) The Psalmist, David, reminds us that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” He did not come to God for forgiveness until his spirit was broken, revealing the sin within his heart.

As a young wife and mother attending an evangelistic meeting, my heart was broken when I realized the wickedness of my sin. Although a church member for many years, I opened my spiritual eyes for the first time to see that my “righteousness” was like filthy rags in God’s sight. I had all of Jesus, but He did not have all of me.

I confessed my strong will and submitted my heart to Jesus. His sacrificial love on the cross caused me to give myself to him wholeheartedly. I visualized myself lying on an altar and said, “Jesus, I am yours–body, soul, and spirit. Take me and use me for Your glory.” I had a new hunger for the Bible and could not stop singing God’s praises. The hymns I learned in my youth had a new and deeper meaning. I felt renewed!

Through years of both happiness and heartache, failures and successes, the Holy Spirit has emboldened me with supernatural peace and joy. Even when I have been broken-hearted or discouraged, I remember…He makes all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Fran Sandin is a retired nurse, organist, mother, and grandmother living in Greenville, Texas. She and her husband, Jim, have traveled to many countries and states. Her latest book, Hope on the Way, Devotions to Go– contains 52 devotionals for those who love to combine faith and adventure. Visit her website to order with a click on the home page fransandin.com. Hope on the Way has been nominated by Joy and Company in Arlington, Texas, for the Henri Award (for outstanding Christian Literature) both in the Devotional and Christian Living sections.

Join the conversation: How important has brokenness been in your life?

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The Value of Brokenness

by Tammy Kennington @TammyKennington

Shallow lines marked half-moons at the edges of my mouth, and the first shades of gray had begun threading themselves through my hair when I encountered soul-rocking, spirit-deep pain. Not one area of my life remained untouched.

Emotionally? I was immersed in depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. Relationally? My marriage and children seemed irreparable. Spiritually? My faith teetered haphazardly on the corners of anger and bitterness.

Weren’t women who loved God supposed to live out quiet, uncomplicated lives by the time they’d exhaled over forty shimmering candles I was as broken as I’d ever been, but I couldn’t avoid reality with childlike innocence or avoidance as I’d done before.

The person I’d been shattered into a thousand pieces—like my grandmother’s fine china did when the buffet’s contents tumbled onto the dining room floor. Shards of cream and pink flowers scattered; a haphazard array of brokenness.

An experience most of us has had at one time or another, brokenness comes in all shapes and forms.

Today, some of you may be wrestling with the brokenness of relationships. Perhaps you weren’t loved well as a child, you’ve been betrayed by a dear friend, or the divorce papers on the table mock the hope you embraced in your youth.

Others might be struggling with the on-going, relentless pain of mental illness, grief, or disease. The foot you place on the floor each morning feels almost as forced as the prayers catching in your throat.

Or, perhaps, the brokenness that burdens you was borne from lies you’ve believed about yourself. Maybe you’ve adopted an I’ll-prove-I’m-worth-saving approach to God, attempting to show Him you deserve His love only to realize striving and imperfection have brought you to your knees.

Brokenness is painful. We balk at its presence and fervently pray God will take it from us. Sometimes He does. But even if He doesn’t, there is nothing beyond the power of the Master.

Like a Kinstugi craftsman mending the broken remains of a Japanese tea bowl with lines of gold dust and resin, the One who restores all things bends intimately over His beloved treasure. Gently, He refashions what was into something new—a living, breathing representation of hope marked by old scars and transformed by grace.

The mending takes time and patience as the artist touches first one sharp edge to another, softening hard places with His healing touch and fitting disjointed, incongruent  pieces into one complete work bearing a mark of newness despite evidence of struggle. Hardship. Life.

Christ, too, knew brokenness. A “man of sorrows”, Jesus was betrayed by friends and family, suffered abuse at the hands of jealous men, and foretold His own suffering with the words, “This is My body which is broken for you.” (1 Corinthians 11:24)

He accepted brokenness on our behalf.

Because of Christ’s willingness to bear the weight of sin and shame? Because His hands were pierced with nails? Because He experienced death and resurrection? Our brokenness is subject to Him.

While the pain and suffering of living this side of heaven can seem overwhelming, its value is the testimony of hope the Master reveals in and through His work in our hearts; threads of His faithfulness shining bright in an everyday woman’s life.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17 NASB

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Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, education workshop presenter, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy leads women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them. The author of five children’s nonfiction books, Tammy has Moving From Pain to Peace: A Journey Toward Hope by [Kennington, Tammy]also written articles and devotions for Thriving Family, The Upper Room, MOPS and several other publications.

Does emotional pain and suffering hold you back from experiencing joy? Moving from Pain to Peace provides hope and healing through hands-on study of Biblical truths, journaling and prayer. Why not take the first step toward recovery from your wounds today?

Join the conversation: Please share your experience with brokenness, whether from your past or where you are today. We can all learn from each other.

Lasting Fruit

by Pam Farrel

I had two new books published over the past year. When you release a new book, your publisher wants you to send a complimentary copies of the book to the women of influence who believe in you and in the ministry God has given to you.

Doing these mailings always takes me down memory lane, remembering the many amazing mentors God has given me. So many have poured wisdom, truth, strength, and common sense into me, and built up and blessed me. I would not be who I am had God not brought each of them across my path at just the right moment.

All I had to do was keep my heart hungry receptive to all He meant for me to learn.  A few of the Psalms in my new Bible study further define the kind of heart God values.

God is looking for thirsty hearts.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God.  Psalm 42:1-2 ESV

This word picture is of a deer searching, longing, desperate for living water to quench her driving thirst. Jesus spoke of this quality in His Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6 ESV). Being mentored necessitates cultivating a receptiveness to the wisdom of others.

God is looking for contrite hearts.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17 ESV

Broken in this verse means to “be shattered into tiny pieces”; contrite is “to be crushed.” Tiny pieces of stained glass in the hands of an artist can become a magnificent work of art, more beautiful and even more valuable after being broken. In the same way, many of my mentors have been used by God as artisans, helping me put my broken life back together.

God is looking for grateful hearts

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  Psalm 100:4- 5 NIV

People with grateful hearts seek out others who want to thank and praise God for His goodness.  I have learned how important it is to appreciate every moment of time someone has spent on me in helping me to know God better.

So, this fall, I looked for opportunities to go in person to thank many of my mentors:

  • Tina, the Campus Crusade staffer, who mentored me in the basics of the Christian walk
  • Nora, who mentored me in my role as a mother
  • Bev, who mentored me in my role as a Pastor’s wife
  • Pat, my mentor in my role as a Women’s Director
  • Jill, my mentor in my speaking ministry.

There are many more, and in the coming months, I plan to go and give each a copy of my book to express my gratitude for each minute they spent pouring wisdom into me. The seeds these faithful women planted over the years have produced lasting fruit around the world. I’m confident that one day in eternity, they will all meet women who began a relationship with God and grew into reproducing leaders as well—all because they once cared and shared as mentors.

When we are open to serving God in that way, desiring a chance to pour into the lives of others, God will be faithful to reveal those who are thirsty, contrite, and grateful, waiting with ready hearts to hear what He has to say though His obedient servants.

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker,  Co-Director (with her husband, Bill Farrel) of  Love-Wise, and the author of  45 books including bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti . Her newest release, co-authored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher, is Discovering Hope in the Psalms.

Join the conversation: Have you been on the receiving end of mentoring? Or have you mentored others? Please share something you gained from that relationship.

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash