We were sitting on the couch watching TV when a big crash sounded from the screened porch. We jumped up and ran to see; I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The beautiful hand-painted pottery plate I had so carefully carried home from Nicaragua lay shattered into a hundred pieces on the porch floor. The iron frame that it had been resting on was still securely hanging on the wall. A large snake had climbed all the way up the wall, pushed the plate off the frame and then wrapped himself around the iron curves; he was resting peacefully. I was stunned. Two things ran quickly through my mind:
Oh no! That plate reminded me of something I never want to forget
and now it’s shattered!
Oh my! This snake came here to remind me that I am forgetting very quickly…
We had to make a quick decision and I knew we couldn’t kill him. So we got the broom and helped him let go of the frame. We shuffled him off of our porch and back into the dark of the night. He was gone and I was left picking up the pieces of a fading dream I wasn’t ready to leave behind.
The plate was a hand painted piece of clay pottery from Nicaragua. It was of an iguana. The colors were beautiful and the expression of the culture and wildlife were vibrant and inspiring. I had imagined that if I could always see that plate, with its beautiful way of sharing the culture, I would never forget what God showed me during that first experience in Central America. Now my reminder was in hundreds of pieces. I picked it all up and placed it in a paper sack. One day…I will put all the pieces back together. I envisioned many ways this could be done but the right idea remained elusive.
Fast forward a few years later I was walking through the Main Street Festival as a quick way to kill time between Sunday morning worship and evening youth group. I stumbled upon a booth that caught my eye. There were crosses of all sizes and they seemed to be made from odd pieces of something. Intrigued; I stepped inside. The artist shared her story. Every cross was indeed made from broken things. Most were created from stained glass windows of churches that were being taken down. All of the crosses were inspired by the wisdom of I Corinthians 1:18:
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – I Corinthians 1:18
I asked her if I could bring her my sack of shattered pieces, the pieces of Nicaragua.
Several months passed when the artist was back in town for another street festival. I went by her booth, and found the cross she had so thoughtfully created. The shattered plate, the snake’s intended destruction, and the beauty of the Nicaraguan artist who painted this piece: all were restored. That same summer I returned to Nicaragua with a team of high school students ready to experience God in another culture.
For several years I carried my sack of broken pottery with me. It made a few moves, was stored in barns, closets and corners along the way. Until the day came that those pieces could be formed into something beautiful. My first time in Central America opened my mind and spirit to things I had not known of God, or of myself. It inspired a journey of following the Spirit that has never stopped teaching and shaping me into the person God created me to be. I am grateful.
What pieces are in your sack of broken things? Be watchful. At just the right time your eyes or your heart will see an opening for restoration, wholeness and new life. You will know to lean in and see what God has to give you. However it comes, just let it be. Broken things being restored is a beautiful gift of the risen Christ and it often comes in surprising ways.
Broken Things by Julie Miller
Lord, please help us to lean in and embrace the ways you make all things new. Thank you for your grace. Amen.
3 thoughts on “Virtual Chapel: Broken Things”
Wow that hit the right spot for me today
so grateful it connected, Mitzi! Thank you for reading.
I love this story and that cross! Thank you so much ch for reminding me of it and how brokenness can become a new and beautiful thing.