— By JOHN CARTER
One of the first nursery rhymes I learned as a child was:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
Ever since, I’ve been attempting to repair broken things – toys, motors, books, furniture, and even people – including myself. The sign over my garage workshop aptly reads, “Restorations.”
If you’ve ever tried to restore an old house, fix a child’s broken toy, or repair the damage after a storm, you know that restoration is much more difficult than “starting from scratch” or maintaining something that’s in good working order. It’s often made more tedious because the damaged parts must be carefully removed before repairs can begin.
Toys, cars, furniture and glass are the least of things that can be shattered. The loss of a loved one can break our hearts. Our personal lives, our relationships, our marriages, our families, our health, our work, our finances and even our faith can fall apart. When that happens, our lives are never quite the same again.
Sometimes the brokenness is the result of our stubbornness, stupidity or carelessness. But at other times, it’s no fault of our own – an accident, a natural occurrence or someone else’s irresponsibility. Although it’s important to understand why, allocating blame doesn’t undo the tragedy. Eventually, whatever the cause, we all face the task of picking up the pieces and putting our shattered lives back together again. It’s the hardest work we ever have to do.
But when that time comes, we can count on the help of the One who created us and loves us with an everlasting mercy. From the time He clothed the fallen couple in the garden until now, our God has been about the restoration and redemption of our broken world.
David, who knew from firsthand experience, says in the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd ... He restores my soul.” “If you fall,” the Psalmist writes, “you will not stay down, because the Lord will help you up” (37:24, TEV). Jesus bids us, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
God – through His Spirit in us and His people – has the skill, the patience, and most important, the desire to help us put our shattered lives back together. Although we’re never quite the same, there is the saving possibility, in God’s time, for the cracks and scars to become like the beauty of a Ming vase. And if time runs out here, the work continues until it is finished in the other rooms of our Father’s house.
The playwright Eugene O’Neal once wrote: “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. And the grace of God is the glue.”
In a shattering week like we’ve just experienced, we can only pray, “Oh God, here are the pieces of our broken lives. They are all we have. By Your grace and in Your time, put us back together again.”
Even before we ask, the carpenter from Nazareth is already at work and invites us to join Him in His workshop.