By Carolyn Hittenberger
Jeremiah 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
No one seemed to know how or when it happened, but the old bell had been broken. Did someone ring it too hard, handle it carelessly, knock it to the floor? The black wooden handle clung tenaciously to the brass base. Someone had carefully taped it together, but it would never again be new. It was almost comical, listing to one side.
Every day that bell had called students and teachers to classes for enriching studies, to mealtime for nourishment and fellowship, and to chapel for sharing and worship. Its clear strong voice kept us on schedule, reminded us to progress to the next step in the day’s plan.
However, when I saw the bell for the first time, I asked my husband, “Why do you keep using that old bell?” Why don’t you just buy a new one? His answer was simple. “Because it still works. It’s been keeping us on track for years.” Why, after listening for and daily depending on its guidance, did I suddenly think it should be replaced? God fixes broken things, not to be exactly as they were, but to improve and prepare them for His purposes.
Jeremiah went to the potter’s house. He saw a vessel shattered in the potter’s hands and watched as the potter picked up the pieces and put it back together according to his purposes.
Jesus blessed and broke a few little loaves and fishes to feed thousands. (Matt. 14:19-21) He didn’t return the bread to what it had been, for the lad to take home. He multiplied it to meet the need, and still had 12 basketsful left over, more than there had been before He broke it!
Luke 7:36-50 tells of a humble woman who broke and emptied a jar of expensive ointment over Jesus’ feet. She poured out on Him her past and her pain, as well as her ointment. The fragrance of her shattered sacrifice blessed Jesus before His death, and continues to minister to those who, like her, have been broken.
Paul reminds us in I Cor. 11:24 that Jesus Himself was broken. His broken body and spilled blood buy our wholeness.
Now I see that old broken bell in a different light. I pick it up and ring it to tell everyone that God uses broken things. It yields to my touch, no longer stiff, but flexible. The clapper has been loosened, free to be a voice for the one whose hand controls it.
God fixes damaged things: A broken bell, a broken loaf, a broken life. He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. Ps. 147:3.
God uses broken things: To speak His words, to nourish the hungry, to make true worshipers, and to bring salvation and wholeness to a wounded world.
Lord, I am broken. I don’t want to be, but I am. I’m tired of hurting, of wearing a mask of “I’m okay,” when I’m not. Sometimes I don’t even want to be put back together, fearing I might be broken again. Still, I am the clay; You are the Potter. You know what is best for me. Please fix me. At a level deeper even than my pain, I want to be available for You to re-form me as seems good to You.
Carolyn Hittenberger is Assistant for the Caribbean Regional Office at Global University and also works with University Communications. For more information about Global University, visit http://think.globaluniversity.edu.