When a Dent Means So Much More

It looked like nothing more than a dent in the hood of the car, a cosmetic annoyance perhaps, but not worth paying the deductible on the car insurance to fix.

Deer are so frighteningly erratic and unpredictable.  Some people marvel at their beauty, grazing along the roadside.  I, however, slow down to a crawl and pray frantically, my hands white-knuckled ontodeercrossing the steering wheel and my heart racing every time I see them out my car window.

So, I was thankful for the miracle.  The deer slamming into my husband’s car left only this ugly indentation behind and my husband was unharmed: a too-close encounter with the minimal damage.

We thought that was the end of it.

The next day, though, my husband found the passenger door on the car wouldn’t open, not without unusual effort.

One estimate at the body shop later and we found out the truth.  The deer had caused $1500 worth of damage, most of it underneath the car.  It took a week of repairs to fix the damage from what the insurance company termed a “collision with an animal.”

It’s been more than a month since the deer decided to take a running leap into my husband’s car and I’ve been thinking about it all the while.

….About brokenness and how sometimes we think the surface cracks and minor bumps and dents are all there is.  Yet, that brokenness in me …in you….in those we meet out and about in our lives…reaches deep down.

It’s not just a matter of cosmetic imperfections, dents that can be popped back out or scratches that can be covered over with paint.  When I explode in anger over something or react with a bad attitude, when the slightest hint of jealousy arises, or I say the wrong thing—it just seems like the smallest error.  It’s a bad day.  A minor bout of stress.

But that’s just the sign of true brokenness.  One pass through the Refiner’s fire and all the disgusting contaminants rush to the surface.

Something is at work far deeper in my heart and soul and I can either keep covering up and ignoring the surface manifestations, or I can ask God to “search me and know me” in the hidden places, underneath the hood, revealing the kind of brokenness that only an expert can see and only with a thorough examination (Psalm 139:23).

Or sometimes we ignore the dents and treat them with complacent apathy… not realizing that the marriage that just seems humdrum is really in desperate danger….or the strained relationship that appears mildly tense is truly explosive.  We’re ignoring the signs of brokenness until they’ve reached a devastating magnitude and then when we’re sitting among the rubble and dust, we think, “What happened?  How did I not know?”

So, while it’s painfully annoying to see the surface signs of damage, how much better to ask God to be at work in us, be at work in our marriages and homes, hearts and minds, ministries and jobs, and more, here and now and do the hard work in this very moment.

Then, like Peter wrote, “and the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10 NIV). 

Peter knew this.  He had a faith that seemed so loud and boisterous, so absolutely strong, and yet he denied Christ three times and discovered out how deep the broken places ran in his soul.

This same Peter tells us that strength and steadfastness, the wholeness and healing, only come after the suffering.  If we skip over it, gloss over it, ignore it, or pretend it isn’t there, then we’ll be too fragile to withstand the greater stress.

…And I’ve been thinking about how we can seem to have it all together with everything perfect and perfectly in place and still be so broken underneath the surface.  There is, after all, no such thing as perfection this side of Christ’s throne.

So it’s safe for all of us to just confess the truth already.  Yes, there’s brokenness in me.  There.  I’ve said it.

And maybe, just maybe, if we all showed that grace to ourselves and that grace for others, we’d allow God to do the healing work.  Then He’d get so much glory—not because we’re faking perfect, but because we’re redeemed by a God who can transform the most broken vessels into clay pots fit for use in the Kingdom.

In her book Sudden Glory, Sharon Jaynes writes, “The puncture wounds of life’s canvas become see through places for Sudden Glory moments.”

Yes, it’s the broken places in us that can let His glory shine through.  But only if we stop resisting His work.  Only if we stop patching the holes.  Only if we pay attention to the scratches and dents and let Him go to work on the hidden brokenness.  That’s when true healing begins.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

It’s A Dirty Job, But Somebody’s Got to Do it

It was as exciting as Christmas morning.

Our girls had been asking us for a Wii since last summer.  So, when a friend from church said he was selling his used Wii system, we knew this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

We surprised our daughters with it as a way to celebrate the end to their school year and my husband explained to the girls how proud we were of their hard work and their many achievements.

The girls jumped around the living room squealing and hugging us.  My oldest announced, “I just can’t stop thanking you enough!”

Giving good gifts to our children brings me incredible joy—to see them so excited, so grateful, so delighted to have the desire of their little hearts placed into their hands.  Matthew 7:11 tells us, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

If giving the perfect gift excites me, I can only imagine those moments of divine anticipation as God prepares to bless us.  Does He laugh as we dance around the room, full of thanks and praise?  Does He hug us as we humbly bow, so aware that we don’t deserve His gracious blessings?  Does He wipe away the tears of overwhelming gratitude?

We enjoyed just a taste of that pleasure as our girls popped in the first game and began to play.

Then the whining began when they couldn’t make their guy jump high enough after just one try.  The frustration kicked in when they didn’t know how to move their hand to make their bowling ball slide just the right way down the electronic alley. There were angry grunts and declarations that, “it’s too hard.”

Even worse, when the girls played a game together, there was the inevitable struggle over winning and losing graciously.  Apparently, kids are not innately “good sports.”  At first the winner was kind and encouraging; the loser begrudging and complaining.  Then the winner gloated.  The loser started declaring, “it’s not fair.”  It was war.

Overall, the girls still love this gift and they are getting better at it all the time.  As parents, though, there were some moments when we weren’t so sure this was such a good idea.  Our gift seemed to be bringing out the worst in them.

But the reality of parenting is that it’s a messy job.  And I’m not talking about potty training, dirty diapers and sickness.

We could shuffle along on the outskirts of our kids’ character and life would be pretty easy.  If we closed our eyes to their weaknesses and ignored their mistakes, this would all be more “fun.”

We’d be failures, though.

Sometimes we have to put on the big muddy rubber boots and wade into the mess in order to pull out the gunk that is sin and human nature and weakness.

We have to buy one toy and insist our kids learn to share.  We have to play games and teach losers how to lose and winners how to win.  We have to look in the face of a defeated child and remind her that the best things in life are worth working hard for and that giving up simply ensures failure.

It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it—and that someone is us.

In the same way, the circumstances God gives us, the jobs He calls us to, the ministries He lays in our hand, the responsibilities He entrusts us with and the relationships He places in our lives often bring out the worst in us. They certainly do for me.  There are times that I am shocked and embarrassed when all my “uglies come out” (to quote Lysa TerKeurst).

God’s not surprised, though.  Our heavenly Father never shirks His parental job and uses these opportunities to deal with the sin that is bubbling to the surface of our hearts.

This is why “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).  God uses conflict to mature us.

This is why we should “count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-3).  Trials mold our character and make us more like Christ.

Spoiled children that we often are, we might think God always needs to give us the gift we so desire, the blessing we’ve been longing for, and the success we see others enjoying.  Yet, we’d never grow, never mature, never get one tiny bit closer to Jesus in a life free of conflict and trouble.

Proverbs 30:12 says, “Don’t imagine yourself to be quite presentable when you haven’t had a bath in weeks” (MSG).

We might at times do just that, walking around without any awareness of our own mess.  Then something like a Wii brings out the worst in us.  We want to give up.  We fight with our brother or sister.  We whine about how hard it is and how unfair.

Sometimes that’s a good thing–as long as we’re willing to let God scrub at us for a while and deal with the sin that surfaces.  Then we can enjoy the gifts He’s given fully and completely and He can laugh with us in delight and bless us with His favor.  It’s a dirty job and He’s just the One to do it.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King