Damaged Goods.

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”
 Vance Havner

I run a small business from home which involves taking used or donated clothing and fabric, still in moderate condition, and turning them into funky, reversible shopping bags. I am currently in the process of revamping the business model to incorporate other products and services, however at the moment, it’s predominantly all about bags. The process of separating the good pieces, whilst strengthening and reinforcing the more worn out ones, is time consuming. It is no easy feat, but a task worth pursuing as some pieces are so unique, it would be a waste to throw them out. Perseverance is a labour of love, a fact creators of anything beautiful and unique are well aware. We see the potential in almost everything.

Our creator God sees more than potential. He sees purpose. He desires to fill and repair us from the inside out. As with damaged, discarded, worn out fabric, so are we lost, used and abused. We are tattered souls looking for a saviour to stitch us whole again, to make something beautiful, purposeful, and worthy out of our lives. Some of us look for spiritual healing, others physical. Without the healing power of Christ Jesus, we find neither spiritual nor physical, and will forever remain damaged goods.

Whether we choose to cry out to Jesus or not, we cannot fix ourselves, the world will not right all wrongs and recycled fabric will not magically become bags. Some of us look for a sign of God’s existence, maybe an audible voice or a dream, but a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given (Matt 16:4).

It is in the depths of our consciences, where Jesus speaks. He is the still soft voice prompting us to listen. This requires a humbling of the self, a bowing of the knees, a surrendering of pride, and a faith which trusts that with God, all things are possible (Mark 9:23). If at first, you do not find Him, try, try again and again and again. Never stop trying. God wants to be found by you. His grace is sufficient. Find healing, purpose and freedom in Christ, and be made whole again.

https://youtu.be/Rfmrh3QyHus

Others may; you cannot.

I loved this so much, I had to share it.

OTHERS MAY; YOU CANNOT
-Author Unknown.

IF God has called you to be really like Jesus He will draw you into
a life of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands
of obedience, that you will not be able to follow other people, or
measure yourself by other Christians, and in many ways He will
seem to let other people do things which He will not let you do.

Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful,
may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out
their plans, but you cannot do it, and if you attempt it, you will
meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you
sorely penitent.

Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes,
of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any
such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep
mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have
a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor,
because He wants you to have something far better than gold,
namely, a helpless dependence upon Him, that He may have the
privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep
you hidden in obscurity, because He wants to produce some
choice fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be
produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you
small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for
it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how
much you are doing; and then to make your work still more
precious He may let others get credit for the work which you have
done, and thus make YOUR REWARD TEN Times GREATER
When JESUS COMES.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love,
and will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your
time, which other Christians never feel distressed over. SO make
up your mind that God is an Infinitely Sovereign Being, and has a
right to do as He pleases with His own. He may not explain to
you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings
with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be His love slave,
He will wrap you up in Jealous Love, and bestow upon you many
blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle.

Settle it forever, then that you are to DEAL DIRECTLY WITH
THE HOLY SPIRIT, and that He is to have the privilege of tying
your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways
that He does not seem to use with others. Now, when you are
so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret
heart, pleased and delighted over this PECULIAR, PERSONAL,
PRIVATE, JEALOUS GUARDIANSHIP and MANAGEMENT OF
the HOLY SPIRIT OVER YOUR LIFE, then you will have found
the vestibule of Heaven.

WHEN YOU ARE forgotten, neglected, or purposefully set at
naught, and you smile inwardly, glorying in the insult or the
oversight, because thereby you are counted worthy to suffer with
Christ, THAT IS VICTORY.

WHEN YOUR GOOD is evil spoken of, when your wishes are
crossed, when your taste is offended, when your advice is
disregarded, when your opinions are ridiculed, and you take it
all in patient, loving silence, THAT IS VICTORY.

WHEN YOU ARE content with any food, raiment, climate,
society, solitude,or any interruption by the will of God, THAT
IS VICTORY.

A pound of flesh.

A pound of flesh.

The pound of flesh, which I demand of him,
Is dearly bought; ’tis mine, and I will have it:
If you deny me, fie upon your law!
There is no force in the decrees of Venice:
I stand for judgment: answer, shall I have it? (Act 4, Scene 1. Merchant of Venice)

The courtroom scene in The Merchant of Venice gives a compelling account of the human condition as it highlights the hypocrisies of religion and the law. Although Shylock seems to be getting a fair trial, he’s already condemned, as the court makes a mockery of words like mercy and justice. Shakespeare’s courtroom scene vividly paints a picture of man’s pride, life’s injustices and the consequences of being unable to forgive.

Obviously, Shylock endured much persecution, pain and degradation at the hands of Antonio and the Christian Venetians and undoubtedly, we are able to empathise with his hurt and desire for justice and revenge. We see in Shylock a picture of a man who has been hard done by for much of his life. Despised by men and even by his own daughter, he’s marred with bitterness, pride and vengeance. Justifiable though he may be, he’s not entirely innocent.

As much as it’s possible to understand Shylock, we are torn between seeing him get his pound of flesh and waiting with bated breath for him to show some semblance of mercy. We want him to rise above his circumstances, forgive the Venetians and accept the offer from Antonio. We plead for him to prove himself better before the court and the audience, to extend the virtues of forgiveness, humility, kindness and mercy.

We often see this scene played out daily in our own lives. We’ve all seen people unable to forgive, hardened by anger and vengeance. Bitterness, pride and hatred are like scars on their faces. I’ve seen it in my children when they fight, in my family and amongst friends. We all want our day in court, revenge…. a pound of flesh. Alas! The reality is, life simply is not fair. The courts get it wrong many times; people make mistakes and accidents happen. I almost killed a boy today, or at least very nearly seriously injured him. Thank God, I was driving less than the speed required. Had I been going just 5km faster, instead of him bumping me, it could’ve been me running him down and over. I couldn’t even imagine what it would feel like to live with the guilt of taking someone’s life, let alone a child’s life. How could his family ever forgive me? How would I forgive myself? There are people who live with that kind of guilt for much of their lives. Forgiveness frees us of such unproductive and destructive emotions.

We have all been hurt and we have all at some point, caused pain in others. The fact is, no one is better than the other, there is no one innocent before God. Just like the Venetians who backed Shylock into a corner and Shylock who lashed out from his corner wielding a knife. We are all just a bunch of filthy, rotten sinners in need of a Savior. A Savior who will whisper, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” “Love your enemies and pray for those who use you and persecute you.” Liberating advice, loving advice, gracious, humble, life-giving advice.

Eventually, we see Shylock’s relentless pursuit of justice and revenge come to a bitter end. He is brought to an excruciatingly painful low, forced into submission and humiliated in the presence of his enemies. We walk away from this scene with genuine sorrow in our hearts for the man. But we walk away knowing that the day will soon come when we all shall see justice. A day when we all stand before the true judge to give an account for every word spoken and every dirty deed done in darkness. Until that day comes, do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)
Luke 23:34 (NKJV)