It goes without saying there are a great many powerful verses in scripture. Everyone who reads the bible likely has a favorite or two. I’m no exception. So tonight—this morning, I guess—I was trying to figure out where to start, and what to read (I usually do my reading about 0330 to 0400, depending on what I have going on and how much work I have left), and I was listening to the sounds of the building around me.
The refrigerator across the room.
That darn cricket hiding somewhere.
The occasional noise from outside.
All so familiar, and they remind me that some things about night shift are good. The solitude. The time for thinking, praying.
I consider that sometimes the familiar is OK, and that is where I turn this morning.
I turn to Luke 15, verse 20. Maybe my favorite verse ever.
20 So he got up and returned to his father. The father looked off in the distance and saw the young man returning. He felt compassion for his son and ran out to him, enfolded him in an embrace, and kissed him.
Is there a better verse to describe in a tangible way the love Jesus bears us? We, all of us, are prodigals. He waits for us to come back home. He scans the horizon for us. He’s patient, yet always he looks out in the distance.
When he sees us, he rejoices.
Even though we’ve sinned against him, and against God.
He runs to us, embraces us.
We run to him, too. Broken, hurting, steeped in lies about him and his nature. Lies about ourselves and our potential. Lies about our worth to our maker.
He greets us with scar-padded hands, and a kiss. The scars are from us, for us, and the kiss speaks of our worth to him, our value.
We are all broken in our own way. Otherwise we wouldn’t need saving. Otherwise we wouldn’t need to be healed.
Sometimes it feels like nothing in our lives is fair—as if the things that have happened to us and around us are too terrible to endure. Sometimes they are.
We get bruised, and as I mentioned before, terribly broken.
The thing I noticed about myself eventually is that I needed to be broken before I could be rebuilt. That required the realization that I was, in fact, broken. Hungry and thirsty for righteousness.
All busted up in a way only Christ can heal. Thirsty for righteousness only He can bring.
Which makes me think of Isaiah, 42: 1-4.
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged[a]
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.”
I am no bible scholar, but I think this is a near perfect portrait of Jesus, many many years before his birth (of course, the suffering servant depicted in Isaiah 53 details the inevitable fate and terrible devastation and aloneness that awaits him, all on our behalf)
But I feel assured, because in spite of my brokenness—perhaps because of it—the justice spoken of is not the retribution or revenge some might think of. In my opinion, the best revenge is surviving. Healing. Carrying on.
Not letting the bricks thrown through life’s windows shatter anything more than glass.
Because a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
That’s good to know.
Lately I’ve been feeling like a bit of a bruised reed again.
I’ve felt tired, of course. Exhausted in nearly every way. Broken in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. I don’t know if that will ever completely heal before Heaven.
But I think of those familiar few verses, and I find myself comforted indeed.
It’s just that it’s so easy to wander off. We wqnder while we wait for him, never realizing he is already there waiting for us.
It’s easy to stray.
Maybe it’s even normal. Maybe if we didn’t struggle, we would be doing something wrong.
But even more comfort lies ahead, because he’s standing there while we are a long way off, and he’s waiting for us.
Those verses describe the nature of Jesus, and what he has in store for us. He’s the waiting father, scanning the horizon for his lost son, lost daughter.
He’s the gentle hand, caressing our bruises and binding them.
Binding our hearts.
We aren’t too far away.
We aren’t too broken to be healed.
The picture right there? That’s us. That’s me, broken like that reed.
But not without hope.
Let me leave you with that thought, and this song: