In the last few days of 2017, its always good to reflect on everything we experienced and accomplished throughout the year. Over the last 363, I can count an abundance of blessings as I experienced God’s provision, protection, mercy and favor. Likewise, I have experienced and watched good friends experience parts of our lives shatter unexpectedly. I walked with a friend through the agony of being denied tenure—in academia that is the ultimate sense of rejection; a symbol of career failure. I’ve watched several marriages hopelessly fall apart. My childhood friend buried her mother on Mother’s Day weekend. My college friend was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. For me, my mother’s only sister died suddenly and unexpectedly. My aunt was the family matriarch—the one who everyone complied to her wishes in the name of gathering family together. Now gone, the cracks that were always present in the family dynamics, but remained unspoken, are now gaping holes. This Christmas was a reminder for me that though, I am sure I will visit my hometown in the future as I still have family and friends there, I doubt I will ever go for Christmas again.
Perhaps you, too, experienced something that knocked the wind out of you. If you didn’t this year, maybe it was the last or the year before last. Or, maybe it’s on the way. Whether it feels like your entire life is shattered or only a piece has been shattered, loss, rejection, and dreams deferred are a part of life for everyone. No one is always on the mountaintop. But, God is so awesome that even when our lives feel broken, He gives us pieces to help us survive.
A few years ago, as I listened to a sermon, a scripture and phrase stood out to me. I don’t remember the sermon. But, I do remember the text which came from Acts 27 when Paul and other prisoners were sailing to Rome to stand trial before Caesar and they encountered a storm and the ship ran aground. Verses 43-44 said, “…He (the centurion) ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety.”
If given a choice, we all want to arrive to safety on an untattered, unbroken ship. The whole ship represents different things to each of us: career success, strong marriages, total health, or never saying goodbye to loved ones. But, sometimes, all we get are pieces of the ship. Instead of looking at those pieces as broken, look at them as a means of survival.
Your broken piece closed one door, but as a means of survival, there is an open door provided for you.
Your broken piece is a forever missing piece in your family, but as a means of survival it is having memories to savor and being grateful to have had the person for the time you did.
Your broken piece reminded you of just how fragile life can be, but as a means of survival, you triumphantly put one foot in front of the other. You remembered to simply breath. Some days that is all you could do. But, you also haven’t lost your mind.
As we come to a close of 2017, let’s reflect and thank God for the broken pieces in our lives. He left these pieces to help us survive.