Kaleidoscope: the Broken Pieces

I never dreamed  when I wrote this for our women’s ministry retreat devotional book in 2004 that my life  would completely shatter five years later. Ironic, but maybe yet a blessing, that I’ve had to live out the truth of this message. Every broken one of you, here’s the BUT:  God says you can be and ARE whole, a beautiful picture patterned after His love and grace and redeeming power.

 

Kaleidoscope

Rose Jackson © 2004

 

“Rumble, KLUNK, rumble, KLUNK.” The shards of broken colored glass tumbled into ever-changing pattern and I drew in my breath as I excitedly turned the revolving end of the kaleidoscope tube, trusting something beautiful would fall into place as I watched. Decades melted away as I stood in a small booth in the antiques store. This red tube with pictures of swirling six-pointed patterns and the slightly frosty plastic cover over the opening was exactly like the one I cherished fifty years earlier. It was one of my favorite toys then, and I never tired of turning the tube to gaze at the shifting images. Sometimes one of such splendor would tumble into place that I held my breath and my hands steady to capture and drink in the spectacle. So much beauty from bits of glass and happenstance.

 

Odd bits and happenstance: that could be the title for my life, or so I often think. After all, what have I really accomplished so far? Room mother, den leader, Vacation Bible School teacher, wife, mom, occasional substitute teacher . . . a long list of odd bits that don’t seem to mean anything, or to fit together in any coherent way, or to serve any good purpose. Then there are the broken pieces of hopes so long delayed – or never materializing – dreams that took a detour, my own failures, a relationship scarred by a breach of trust, grief from losing my father to the slow death of Alzheimer’s, leaving everything I loved behind in a move across the country . . .  How could goodness or purpose come from all that “junk”?

 

Turning the old kaleidoscope over, I examined the pieces of glass at the end: formless, meaningless junk, and not much of it, either. But when I looked through the viewing hole as I rotated the tube, glorious patterns appeared, made from those same broken pieces. What made the difference? It was what I couldn’t see inside the tube. Inside were three long mirrors set in a triangle along the length of the tube. Light coming through that “junk” and reflected off those three mirrors that made pattern, beauty, and glory.

 

A Christian’s life is like a kaleidoscope. Yes, there are broken bits and “junk” that we don’t understand in our lives, but the light of God shining through that “junk” and reflected through the Father, Son, and Spirit brings pattern, beauty and glory from our lives.

 

  • Insignificant? Teaching Vacation Bible School all those years doesn’t seem to amount to more than countless sock puppets, making clay bricks, and pouring Kool-Aid® . . . but our older son is a missionary. The story of the boy who shared his sack lunch with Jesus to feed 5,000 people has taken on a larger, deeper meaning to me now.
  • Formless? Moving across the country and saying good-bye to family, to friends of twenty years, and to what seemed to be the beginning of a productive new career certainly seemed more painful than purposeful . . . until I connected with a ministry to women dealing with the loss and anxiety of moving. I never would have understood their grief if I hadn’t experienced it myself.
  • Meaningless? That’s what seven long years of repeated hope and disappointment in trying to conceive our second child seemed . . . until I understood that God’s plan wasn’t for just A child, but for this specific child, who wouldn’t have been conceived at any other time. My faith is growing up into trusting God for his best in everything, including a prayer whose answer I’m still waiting and believing I’ll see, now nineteen years after I first lifted it to God.

 

Three mirrors are in my life: Father, Son and Spirit. Granted I don’t hear “Rumble, KLUNK,” as God works in the pieces of my life, and often I have to just trust that beauty and form are there somewhere, but now I realize my life isn’t “happenstance.” In fact, as my life “turns” through the years, I see the same bits coming together to make new and different patterns as God brings new people and avenues of ministry into my life. I know that even the broken pieces and the bits that seem unimportant and disconnected have the potential for beauty, purpose, and glory as I choose to focus through the “viewing end” and see my life reflected through the three-in-one God. Will I one day see an image of such splendor that I catch my breath in wonder?

 

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”                     Ephesians 1: 18

 

 

Give God your broken pieces. Look

at your life through God’s focus,

and let his light

shining through your life create BEAUTY from the broken pieces!

 

Kaleidoscope

A “…BUT…” to pray: God, loving Father, my life is shattered. I see no reason, no pattern,  no “why” to ________________________________________________________________________________________ that’s broken _____________________________ in my life. BUT today I hand you the broken pieces, to reflect Your beauty, pattern, and indescribable love. I will trust you to create something beautiful fromtjese broken pieces, and Holy Spirit, speak to me as I listen to Your voice, to hear the truth of who I am in You still ____________________________________________________________________________ Use this,  Almighty God, for YOUR glory!

 May His love make you whole!29395-cc_wall0115_HeartGloves_1280x1024
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More Steps

Rose Jackson© 1/6/2011

If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm (the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the LORD); though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37: 23-24.

I seem to stumble into God’s purposes more often than I intentionally, clearly see and follow. But it’s comforting to know that I can’t accidentally fall off the path of God’s plans and purposes involving me – and what fun it is to find yourself in the right place at just the right time!

Time almost caused me to miss a God-appointment on January 1.

A few days before, I received an e-mail from Bridge Builders about Mountaintop Prayer throughout Arizona on New Year’s Day and thought it sounded nice to watch the sun rise and ring in what I fervently pray is a year of victory and blessing with a bunch of other people praying on a high place. There are LOTS of mountains in and around the valley that is Metro Phoenix. Two venues in the e-mail caught my attention: one just four miles from my house, and one about 12 miles away on “A” Mountain in Tempe, overlooking Arizona State University.

I filed the thought as “act on later.” Life was too hectic with Winter Camp in full swing at the Zoo to make firm plans in advance. So December 3oth found me firing off a quick phone call to the leader of one hike. I leaned toward the “save time/save gas” option, but “A” Mountain still beckoned me. I met my husband at ASU, and it seemed somehow fitting to pray overlooking the place we met, the place we lived, the place he gave me his Aunt’s garnet ring, the place where our life together began. I wanted to take back territory lost!

But doggone it, I’d picked up the bug going around our office (my boss had strep), and after a week of raising my voice over 19 kindergarteners going in 16 different directions at once, Wednesday in one day of cold and constant rain and Thursday in bitter cold, I’d awakened at 1:25 am on the 31st feeling like someone ripped my throat out and shoved a piece of rebar in my left ear. Stay home? Go anyway? I e-mailed the leader of the “A” Mountain hike and got the map and details, just in case I felt better on New Year’s Day: park somewhere close to the trailhead at 6:30, hike to the top, meet the group, bring a flashlight. Just in case, and just in case, I went to bed in my long underwear, turtleneck top and wool socks.

I woke up just before 5 a.m. still feeling miserable, knowing it was still hovering around the freezing mark, and “sensibly” talked myself into going back to sleep. But I awoke again at 6:05 and thought (very spiritually) “Oh, what the heck!” Panic leaped out of bed with me, because at the very least I needed to feed the dogs and let them out and back in, throw on jeans and a sweater, hiking boots, and a heavy coat, hat, scarf, and gloves, and drive 12 miles to Tempe – yes, I chose “A” Mountain – in 25 minutes! Cursing my waffling, I slammed down some orange juice and gave up on breakfast, splashed some water on my face and gave up on makeup (it would be dark anyway) and brushing my hair (it would be under a hat), gave up on leisurely hiking to the peak, and sped off into the frigid darkness.

My quick look at the map the day before showed nebulous parking lots, but several approaches to the trail. Where in the world was the closest trailhead? I passed up a parking lot, only to find I couldn’t turn left at the next one. U turn at the light, back to the lot, but where was the trail? “Fortunately” a young woman pulled into the lot at the same time I did, and though she wasn’t part of the prayer group, she did point me in the general direction of the trail. Shoot – no flashlight! I gratefully thanked God for the low-sodium city glow that sort of illuminated the path. Clock ticking, I chugged up the trail, turning at what seemed to be the right spot to head higher up the hill. Nose running, throat aching, breath heaving, I made it to steps that aimed me toward a black outcropping of rock just beneath microwave tower.

No one was there. Rats! Had the bitter cold kept everyone at home – where I should have been if I’d had any sense? I saw movement as dark figures ascended on the trail below. I didn’t know any of these people, not Pastor Yoo, none of the young people with him, no one else. I scaled the boulder and found a rough depression in the rock on the top. Positioning my backside in the icy-cold natural bowl, I sighed and set my thoughts to singing and praising God and calling forth victory, even as I felt sick and sorrowing over all the promise of love lost. Husky early morning voices, more fervor than melody, but we praised!

Pastor Yoo asked us to get in groups of two or three to pray. A woman about my age was perched in the cleft in the boulder opposite me. I asked her if she’d like to join me, and she crawled up to a little ledge just down from my bowl. After we shared our individual concerns, we prayed for the city, university, students, state, nation, and the world. Funny how quickly you can feel connection with another believer!

I told her why I’d come to this particular peak, and she told me of miracles she’s seen in the hearts of some very hardened people. I prayed for her to find greater intimacy with God. Our prayer wound down, and I asked her if she’d been to the big Bridge Builders events at my church, City of Grace. Even in the dim morning light I cold see her eyes widen.

“Yes. I’ve been praying for City of Grace since last summer, and three months ago the Lord told me to start attending there at the first of the year!”

Ha! Jesus did it – got my less-than-willing body out of bed, directed me to the right mountain, and plopped my keester on a cold rock where he had a meeting scheduled for Jessica and me. As of last Sunday and yesterday, she’s already plugged into the prayer ministry at City of Grace.

Today I went to the gym after work – not the one with the nice hot tub where I wanted to go, but the one closest to my work – asked a simple question about discounts for Zoo employees, and BAM ran smack into another God-incidence with a remarkable young man, trainer, and Christian brother named Rob. Wow, this meting holds potential blessings for both of us in the incredible purposes of God.

Last Saturday it was, “Oh, heck.” Today it was, “Oh, well.” I make a seemingly insignificant choice and fall into the hands and plans of the Living God. Stumbling and defaulting, I find somehow I’ve been on the path of God’s desires and purposes, unknowingly, all along. What an awesome Father, Redeemer, and Guide we have! As much as I fear making huge mistakes in this painful pre-dawn journey I’m on, how reassuring it is to know that there is a loving hand that guides me into remarkable goodness. And that reassuring truth gives me reason to hope yet, still, that the sunrise miracle is coming.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73: 23-26