Broken Things

I’m sure the word “broken” would have existed even if Adam & Eve had not chosen to eat the fruit and plunge the rest of us into a state of decay.

Some sinless child would have dropped a water jar or something … the difference is that an unfallen momma wouldn’t yell at her kid, and the unfallen kid wouldn’t try to hide his mistake by sweeping all the shards into the rubbish heap in the back yard.

Enjoyed a fantastic Sunday school lesson today from Philip Pigeon about the way God pursues us even when we’re running from Him. We wouldn’t have been runners if there were no sin. But God’s love is huge — big enough for Him to pursue us patiently, faithfully, lovingly, without rebuke or reproach. We run out of disbelief, lack of faith, shame, guilt, fear, rebellion. Yet God still loves.

I am tired of the many reminders of the brokenness of this world. I’m tired of making mistakes, having to repent, trying to do the right thing but failing, making judgment calls without enough information to really choose the best, living with uncertainty, hurting people (intentionally or unintentionally), being hurt (intentionally or unintentionally), watching the effects of sin work themselves out in our bodies and souls and minds and society.

But I also love the “broken” people much more easily than the people who are “ok” (if there is such a thing). Well, I guess there are plenty of types of broken people I don’t love — arrogant Christians who condemn others for their actions without taking time to find out what’s really going on don’t receive a lot of mercy from me except when the Spirit bonks me over the head and reminds me that I don’t really get to pick and choose which “neighbors” to love. But I am definitely drawn to those who wrestle with the dark issues of life.

I love young people because they tend to reward honesty with honesty. I don’t have any answers to life’s problems (and I can’t control how or when God will decide to reveal Himself to a troubled soul), but I enjoy being able to listen and maybe help. People without problems don’t really interest me much. At least kids know they aren’t supposed to have it all figured out yet, so they are willing to stop pretending.

I think our student body is much stronger, helpful, and effective when it includes students who are struggling with big problems, like depression or a shattered family or a hurting past. I’m not saying I wish kids had those problems… if I had a magic wand for “happiness” I’d use it.  But the world IS screwed up, and we are a much better community when we spend our energy tending the wounded. It’s hard for hurting kids to come out and talk about what’s really going on.  It’s harder for our students to learn what real love is, though, when nobody seems to need it.

“Love one another.”   It’s so basic.  We will shrivel into a cold, hard empty shell without it, a typical school where you either “eat” or “be eaten,” a piranha tank for cannibalistic, selfish relationships.

I’ve been musing lately on the ephemeral nature of my life’s work, teaching. We’re never more than one cycle of students away from falling into that piranha tank.

If my existence vanished from this planet tonight, how would the world be different?

I hope that a few dozen young people would grow up into men and women who pour out their lives to spread the healing power of the Gospel to the nastiest, darkest, roughest places.  I hope one or two of them would try to start schools where grace and community are more important than SAT scores or “looking like a Christian school.”  I hope they would live out lives free from the guilt and shame of religious bondage. I hope they will think of new ways to apply the good news to problems that seem to have no answer.

I’d leave behind some sweet posters too. You guys had better keep those somewhere. I’ll be pretty ticked off if I came out to visit the old halls and you people had taken down the only reminder we have of some incredible theater. It’s nice to have a rallying point.

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