No advice is ever new. It's all been said before and probably many times. When she was growing up, my mom jokingly numbered her dad's talks. He would sigh deep and launch into a lesson on life and she would say, "Oh, is this #642?" Because, of course, she'd heard them all (hasn't every teenager?). Yesterday, I needed to hear a repeat. I don't know what number lesson it is, but it's the one I need almost every day and especially on this day. A couple cases were just stretching my heart to breaking. I found myself thinking up ways I could make things easier for the kids and for the parents and for the transitions. But, it's just all so messy.
Broken relationships, broken trust, broken love, broken houses. Brokenness can never stay as is without someone suffering payment.
When things break, someone has to pay.
I don't have to tell you about the brokenness. You see it, too. Your best friend, co-worker, dad, brother, cousin, neighbor, step-sister... you are familiar with brokenness and you know its high cost.
I had about an hour after a meeting yesterday and before my nightly rounds began. After work ended, I would have another very difficult personal conversation about brokenness. In the middle of work and personal messes, I needed to remember that messes are well beyond my power to fix them.
I am not the fixer.
The very best way I can respond when messes make their way to my door or crawl out of my own heart is to seek the Lord.
So, I sat with my computer in my lap and read this little devotional from Solid Joys on Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith." I needed to hear the lesson on faith because it rightly positions my heart to seek sufficiency where it can be found. It doesn't matter how many times I've heard it before, my heart needed to hear it again.
Because I am not the fixer. I don't have the tools or the expertise. I don't have the right words or the right timing. I don't have the power to mend brokenness or pay for its destruction. I don't have access to that kind of bounty.
Faith is the act of our soul that turns away from our own insufficiency to the free and all-sufficient resources of God. Faith focuses on the freedom of God to dispense grace to the unworthy. It banks on the bounty of God. (John Piper, Future Grace p. 182-183)
Oh, but I love my Jesus!
In faith, I can believe that He is the same grace-giver today that He was yesterday, the same sufficient provider and the same bondage breaker. His resources never end. All the cost of brokenness that ever was does not exceed the payment of the cross. But He does not just make payment for all the ways we've been in wrong relationship with God and man, He restores us and renews us and revives us once again. The broken are mended and made new in Christ.
By His grace, we believe He is capable of this kind of miraculous mending. As often as I hear the lesson, I cling to the grace that allows my belief. Yesterday, I needed to hear a repeat.
And do you know what He did?
As I made a mess of nightly rounds, a colleague asked me, "You seem different, peaceful. You kinda strike me as the tree-hugger type..."
I didn't really know what to do with that, but it felt like he was making a compliment. He backtracked and danced around political correctness (ah, government workers), but I kind of giggled, "Well, I'm not exactly a tree-hugger, but I do feel at peace."
And then I explained it was because of my faith that I could have any peace at all. I thought that might be the end of it. Nobody wants to hear about "religion" these days, so we're told. But, he did and he started asking questions. We were both a captive audience in that car and I knew the clock said I was late to my next two appointments, but I felt a very perfect calmness.
He'd been brought up Baptist, but then he got "curious" and frustrated with a God who required punitive damages - the exchange of hellbound consequences for actions didn't seem consistent with forgiveness and mercy.
I'm almost positive he did not take a direct route to our destination and the part of me that was antsy about the time was won over by the part of me that was excited about his questions. We talked about sin requiring payment (from somebody) and the mercy God showed in giving the payment on our behalf. In our line of work, we are familiar with brokenness and payment required... but the miracle of salvation is that a third party steps in to pay AND to mend. And God is the only one with the power and authority to do so.
I prayed for him and his family all the way to my next appointment - that they would soon be numbered as sons and daughters of the King. And I breathed deep the grace that gave me faith to believe it is possible - for him and for me. This is a lesson I need on repeat.