Heart Cracked Open

I’ve been emotionally wrecked. From the seemingly trivial losing one of my favorite students to another school, to the deeply personal things God is working out inside of me, to being powerless to keep my friends from making decisions that are wrecking their lives, there’s been a lot going on in this heart of mine.

While preparing to start my day the other morning, I boldly (and foolishly) challenged Life, “What else have you got for me?”

Moments later I came across a message informing me that a missionary friend’s 16-year-old son was killed in a motorbike accident.

Dear God, will it never end?

Tragedy and I communicate on a first name basis. Oh, I wouldn’t say we’re friends. She’s more like that person who makes me cringe when I see her coming down the hall because I know we’re going to have a long conversation that I don’t want any part in.

“Hey, Tragedy, how’s it going?”

“Oh, you know. Just wrecking lives and stuff.”

And by the end of our conversation, I feel tired all over. But I think the thing I hate most about Tragedy is that she makes me feel so insufficient. Because, as I’ve said before, my arms aren’t big enough to cradle the whole world all at once. And this world has wounds that are bigger than I am. And superglue may work just fine for busted heads, but it doesn’t do a whole lot of good when it comes to broken hearts.

I don’t know what to do with broken hearts. I may be able to sweep up all the pieces, but I guess I’m not good enough at puzzles to figure out how to put them back together. And I wish with every fiber of my being that I could put them back together. But all I have to offer a broken heart is my own heart breaking in response.

I feel like I’ve spent the last few days falling on my knees and saying, “Okay, God, here’s my heart cracked open. Do with it what You will.”

And I know that He will.

I know that God is big enough to restore even the most broken of hearts.

So I think I’ll tell myself the same thing I told myself when I lost Maggie five months ago:

There’s still Someone who can make sense of the pieces where others have failed.

There is a God who makes beautiful things from broken things.

And that is the knowledge I cling to when the world rocks crazy and my heart lies in fragments on the floor.

Yes, I still believe in a God who redeems the messes we’ve made of our lives. I still believe in a God who accepts the sacrifice of a broken heart. And I still believe that these paths paved with heartache are ultimately the best thing for me.

So here I stand with heart cracked open, fully and finally alive.


Ask Me About SAM

The ministry I work with designed these buttons as a conversation starter that would help us encourage people to “Sponsor a Missionary,” but today I sported this button for an entirely different reason. I wore it to remind myself to pray for a young man named Sam.

You see, Sam went rock-climbing with his sister yesterday and fell forty feet into shallow water. He tumbled over the rocks before bouncing off his kayak into the water. Had he not been slowed down by the kayak, he almost certainly would have died when he collided with the razor-sharp rocks hidden under the surface of the river. Right now, Sam is in the hospital with several stitches, staples, bruises, and broken bones. Today, he underwent several x-rays to see just how bad his internal damage is. It will be a long road to recovery, but he is, by the grace of God, alive.

So today, if you ask me about Sam, I’ll tell you that Sam is a miraculous reminder of God’s goodness and grace. According to the rescue squad, he should have died. Had that kayak been floating just a foot away from where he landed, Sam would have died. Had God’s hand been anywhere other than that exact location, Sam never would have awakened to his sister’s desperate cries. To me, Sam serves as a chilling reminder of how fragile life truly is. The words of my friend echo in my mind: “I saw him the night before this happened. We were being all sarcastic and joking like always. To realize it might have been our last time together… It just makes you think.”

The thing that strikes me is that this isn’t the first time I’ve seen God miraculously intervene in an impossible situation. I’ve actually looked into the eyes of a person who shouldn’t be alive. Instead of attending the funeral that was almost certain, I wrapped my arms around a guy who nursed a broken arm and a road-burned shoulder. And I forgot. I forgot how easily life fades away. I forgot what a miracle it is to simply breathe. I forgot that at any given moment, I could lose someone I greatly cherish.

Suddenly, I find myself being reminded. Today, as I wear my button, pray for Sam and thank God for sparing his life, I’m reminded to thank Him for the times that my brothers cracked their heads open, or fell out of trees, or had a zipline snap while they were riding it and yet walked away with no serious repercussions. I’m reminded to thank Him that my face carries no scars from the time I spilled a bowl of hot grease on it when I was only two years old. I’m reminded to thank Him for sparing me from the many tragedies of which I will never even be aware. Today, I thank God for the numerous times His hand has been there to save me from harm. Today, I thank God for the miracle of life.