“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:17 NIV).
***Today is the one year anniversary of the Abbey Gate tragedy in Kabul. We will not forget.***
My little friend sat at the dining table flipping through a coloring book, trying to determine which picture he wanted to color.
After several thoughtful moments, he pointed to a page. “This one,” he exclaimed, grinning ear to ear.
I carefully tore the picture from the book, then laid it out flat on the wooden surface. “There you go, Buddy! Now let me go get the crayons.”
I returned with a colorful tin–the same crayon container I used as a girl. The faces of cartoon-style jungle creatures brought a smile as I placed the tin on the table. “There you go! Get to it!”
The little boy reached his hand in and pulled out a handful of crayons in a variety of colors. Spreading them out, he considered which one to choose first, but I noticed his hesitation. Then, what he said confirmed his concern. “Lots of these are broken,” and he shoved several crayon nubs aside.
Tousling the top of his head, I chuckled. “It’s okay, Buddy. Broken crayons still color.”
He looked up at me, uncertain. “Really?”
“Sure thing. Why don’t you give it a try?”
And true to my word, a bright blue streak appeared on the page, bringing another smile to the little boy’s face.
Broken crayons still color.
I have a mug that reminds me of this truth, pointing me, too, to all the examples in the Bible, as well as throughout history.
Think about it. Heroes of the faith, both living and long gone–imperfect vessels that served and sacrificed. Fought and failed. Fought and succeeded. Fought for their freedom. For others’ freedom. Fought for their faith. Fought despite fear.
Biblical examples, like–
- Mary Magdalene.
And what about–
- Martin Luther
- Fanny Crosby.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Rich Mullins.
- Brennan Manning.
- Keith Green.
- Abby Johnson
- Lori Roeleveld
Perhaps someone you’ve known or know comes to mind. Fill in the blank with his or her name. Each of these (and countless others) colored the world with their courage in the face of fear. With their words when they knew what they said or wrote could literally cost them their lives. With their wisdom, spoken in psalms and songs and proverbs.
Each of these, every single one, was or is broken in some manner. And so are you.
So am I.
Still, we’ve each been called, no matter what, to color our world–as teachers, physicians, pastors, politicians, nurses, trash collectors, construction workers, soldiers, social workers, speakers, and writers. As moms and dads. Grandparents. Daughters and sons. Siblings. Every one of us–
Broken crayons still called to color.
One example came to mind today. Having taken our Girl to school, having prayed for her, as well as all those other students who are just starting out in a new academic year, I thought back to my school days–that season of crayons and coloring books, milk and cookies, and, eventually, lockers and lipgloss, blue books and paper-filled 3-ring binders.
It was 1985. I was in high school–a sophomore, in fact. I don’t exactly understand how our English teacher was permitted to show our public high school, 3rd period class that particular video that day, because it was basically like going to church. But I’ve never forgotten. Never.
So, when I came home from having dropped off Allie, I turned on the news. The first thing I learned, something my husband told me yesterday but I’d forgotten–today is National Dog Day. (Yes, it is!)
The second thing I learned, something that brought a surge of sadness, was that it’s been one year since thirteen service men and women were killed fighting for freedom–and not their own but others’. (And though it’s minor in comparison, many service dogs, faithful canine friends, also lost their lives doing what they were trained to do–fight for freedom.)
After a few moments, I turned off the television and sat in silence, pondering those courageous men and women, each broken, no doubt, in some manner of speaking. Each one sacrificed the comforts of home, risked their lives every day, to color the world–which, let’s be honest, likely didn’t feel much like where they were from most of the time. After all, Afghanistan’s not exactly Chicago or Rio Bravo or Sacramento or tiny Corryton, TN, for example.
And it was in that silence–the memory of our early morning commute to school as fresh in my mind as the mug of coffee in my hand–when I remembered that day thirty-seven years ago. Remembered the movie my classmates and I watched in 10th grade English.
And I wondered what good ol’ Dave Roever would have to say about the tragedy 365 days ago. I’m sure he, like the world, reeled at the news. Because he knows all too well. His life was forever changed when, while serving his country, a phosphorous grenade exploded nearby. Burned beyond recognition, he spent more than a year recovering in the hospital.
Even still, despite extensive physical pain and much suffering, he allowed this tragedy to work for triumph, and the movie we watched that day shared, with both wit and wisdom, the Reason for his joy. (It’s available on YouTube–“The Dave Roever Story.”)
Indeed, Dave Roever, now 75, is a broken crayon, but he, too, is still coloring. And my guess? He’ll be doing his best to make the world more beautiful until the Lord calls him home.
So what about you?
What about me?
As we remember those who lost their lives a year ago in Kabul, as we consider all those who’ve fought and sacrificed–many who died doing so–let’s make this our mantra. Our meditation.
Yes, our prayer–
Broken crayons still color, so please keep using me, Lord!
- Who do you know that, despite brokenness, is still coloring the world beautifully?
- How can God use you, despite your own brokenness?
Dear Savior, thank you for using the broken things of this world to teach us much. Thank you for using us, broken though we are. Finally, thank you for setting the example, because, through Your brokenness, You saved the world. What a beautiful truth to hold to, Jesus! Amen.