I’ve learned so much from Backyard Lessons. My wife does her creative, green-thumb-thing and I often see the lessons in it. This installment is really a follow-up to Church: Pretender’s Playground. Why? Because there are too many people in the Church who need to stop pretending they are not broken! In fact, we need to learn to celebrate our brokenness, and I can tell you why.
Backyard Lessons: The Truth of Grace
How many times do people confide in a pastor their doubts about faith and salvation? My experience is it happens quite often. In most cases the problem is the same. People struggle with some action, or lack of action, and they think the struggle is proof they have not experienced salvation. The answer to this problem is easily seen Backyard Lessons.
My wife has some of these pot displays in our yard. They are called ‘spilled’ pots because it appears the pot has tipped over and spilled the plants out. The truth is, the pot is broken. The broken side is turned down and the plants are placed beyond the mouth of the broken pot.
Let’s put ourselves in the place of the pot. That would mean our average gardener has the role of God. Now, does the gardener know the pot is broken? Of course! If I’m the pot, do I know I’m broken? Probably. Admitting it is the problem, but it is also the gateway to usefulness.
Not long ago I accidentally broke a clay pot on our back porch. Don’t think for a minute I got to throw it away. My green-thumb-wife knew how to use it – even if it was broken. Now if she can do that with cracked, clay pots, how much more is God able to use people who are broken?
The difference between my wife’s clay pots and God’s ‘people pots’ is that admitting thing. Sticking with my analogy, imagine that pot I broke was trying to pretend it wasn’t broken. It refused my wife’s help and placement. It defiantly maintained the attitude:
I can hold soil, plants, and water all by myself! I’m NOT broken!
Sounds absurd doesn’t it? But itsn’t that what God’s ‘people pots’ routinely do? We don’t want to admit we are broken. We pretend. Our pretending renders us useless. Why? Because no matter how much we protest to the contrary, we are still broken. On our own we simply cannot meet the purpose for which we were designed.
Backyard Lessons: Admitting, Repurposed, & Glorious
Unlike my wife’s lifeless clay pots, God gives his ‘people pots’ a choice. They can keep pretending they aren’t broken. They can live in their own strength. And that will lead to destruction. The other option is admitting we are broken. How did our brokenness happen? It’s called sin. We all have it. And that is something we also have to admit.
That person who comes to me with doubts often asks if I, too, think their actions mean they are still lost in their sin. It’s not their actions that might cause me to agree. The truth is, I can’t really know. Only God knows the condition of any human heart. But nothing we do, or don’t do, makes us right with God. We are terminally broken. God’s actions, given by His grace and expressed in Jesus Christ, are the only means for any of us to find a useful purpose in Him. And if we cannot grasp that truth, then there is reason to question. After all:
Without faith it is impossible to please Him.
Believers (most who read this blog) know our first step of faith is to admit our need of God’s grace. We call that salvation. Knowing our need is the first step to solving the problem. We can and should celebrate all God has done for us. But what is our second step on the faith journey?
The second step, third step, and all that follow are the same. We admit we are broken. We give up pretending all together. We start by faith and we keep going in that same faith. God has promised to be strong in our weaknesses. We just need to keep admitting we have them. We don’t celebrate our failures, but we can celebrate God’s solutions. We give our brokenness and failures to Him and He finds ways to bring His glory out of broken pots like you and me.
It’s a little like the flowers spilling out of the pot on the ground. Do you really notice the pot? The pot is a setting for the life exhibited by beautiful plants. God’s work in you and me is like that. Our brokenness is the setting in which His glory shines bright!
The next time you see a pot in the backyard, maybe you’ll remember this installment of Backyard Lessons!
Soli Deo Gloria!