Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sweetly Broken

Monday I got to go to Camp Loucon for Youth Workers Sabbath. It’s one of my favorite things. I look forward to it each spring. It gives me a chance to reflect on where I am at the end of another school year, to renew some precious friendships with youth pastors who have been opening their hearts to kids for years, and to just be refreshed and renewed in some forgiving space for awhile. This year the theme song for our worship was “Sweetly Broken” by Jeremy Riddle. The chorus goes like this:


I was very moved by the song and really felt a connection to it. I left my time away with those words pressed into my heart. And so I returned home to the busyness of finals week, and the preparations of our Ladies Tea Party. Replacing my hiking boots with strappy heels, I prepared for the end of year celebration soon to take place at my house.

The thing is, I love tea parties. In my first place of ministry my dear friends introduced me to the practice. Anytime one of us had something to celebrate we gathered around fine china and crystal, being very intentional about making our time special and the guests honored. I continued the tradition when I became a campus minister. I wanted my girls to know themselves as special and honored too.

Last night I got out the server pieces from my original china set to serve sugar and creamer in. It is beautiful to me with its delicate curves and filigree handles. The china is a pristine white that is transparent when held up to the light. It was part of the pattern I registered for as a new bride almost fourteen years ago. As I went to fill the sugar bowl with sugar, the unthinkable happened. It was too close to the edge of the counter and accidentally got pushed off, shattering as it hit the floor. And “sweetly broken” began to have new meaning for me.

Two of the young ladies who joined us last night will be moving on to new adventures soon. One is graduating, and the other is transferring to the University of Louisville. It was a very bittersweet celebration. On the one hand I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to know and love them. On the other hand, my heart is breaking as I say goodbye. Like my sugar bowl, I too am sweetly broken.

Jesus warned His disciples that they must count the cost of discipleship: “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:27-28).” I don’t think He says this to scare them, but simply to let them know that there is a cost in following His path. Jesus heads straight for the path of love, and love leads Him to the cross. It leads us there too.

Like a sugar bowl (even a fine china sugar bowl) was made for sugar, my heart was made for love. It would be so easy to keep my china and precious tea cup collection safe. I could just go to the store and buy disposable everything. But then our tea parties wouldn’t be so special. And all that beautiful china would simply sit unseen in a cabinet, never fulfilling its intended purpose. I too could protect my heart from loss. I could go through the motions and never risk getting hurt by never opening my heart. I could keep my life an unopened book, never sharing its mysteries, struggles, and triumphs. I could never share the story of who I am, never listen to the story of who you are, and never allow those stories to shape each other in eternal ways. I could lock up my heart and never allow the presence of a student to live there and never suffer loss when they leave. And I could live a miserable, joy-less, empty life, bereft of laughter, flat, without any vibrant color or candor, simply a barren existence. I could do that, but I would forever forfeit who I really am. My heart was made for love.

And I am a pastor whose flock always leaves. As my sheep, I will love you, nurture you, pray for you, wait for you, patiently tend you, gently guide you, and always worry over you. But if I do my job right, you will always leave me. And if I do my job right, your departure will always leave an ache in my heart. Loss is the cost of loving you into the fullness of God’s intention for you as a sheep in my care. Still I would not have it any other way. After eight years of being a campus minister, I have discovered that I was made for this ministry of loving students into fullness. It is worth it to me to suffer this loss. You are worth it to me.

Because we are all worth it to Him. On the cross Jesus answered Love’s call and laid down His own life so that He could take our brokenness and sin into His own heart. It was worth to Him to die there so that the power of sin would be broken in our lives, and so that we would know without any doubt that we are forgiven. When scripture says that nothing can separate us from the love God has for us in Jesus Christ, it speaks the truth. He removes the sin that separates us from God’s holiness by His death, and then He removes the death that sin breeds within us by His resurrection. His gift to us is eternal life, peace with the Father, and love that cleanses us from all un-love. Praise Jesus.

I know what I was made for. Do you know what you are made for? Part of my purpose is to help you discover that, to love you into it. To walk beside you until some day you walk into the destiny God has prepared for you, designed you for. The thing you would suffer loss for because nothing else fills you up quite the same way. And that is what you are to me.

So I love you, because He loves me and chooses to love you through me. In ways you cannot know you have been grafted into my life. And when it comes time to let you go my dear ones, it will always break my heart. But I am so grateful to be sweetly broken.

This is me full of trust,


1 comment:

Jana Kirchner said...

Wow! You have a blogspot. Just remember when you are a famous author, pastor, guest speaker, etc. to remember your friends that knew you before you were famous. :) You go girl! Great job with this!