The sound of the large ceramic mug shattering on the concrete floor of the television studio was deafening, The producer had just given the signal for the cameras to begin rolling. Still, there were shards underneath cameramen’s feet as those without something else to do scurried to gather them up.
Broken pieces of the mug they had given me.
Thankfully, it was not me who dropped it. No, one of the helpers went to get me a new cup because fruit-flavored tea and milk do not mix well together. She wanted it to be perfect for me.
The Perfect Gift
I thought how ironic that in trying to bring me a perfect gift, she had ended up with broken pieces.
It’s so much like what we do with our lives. We think we have to clean them up to present them to God. So, we try and try and try, but “when we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.”1 We can never be perfect and it’s because we are imperfect people that we cannot come into the presence of a perfect God.
We are broken, many of us are shattered like a cup slamming into a concrete floor. Our cries cut through the silence like a knife and go straight to our hearts. We know pain. We know heartache. We know despair. And we think we can never approach a perfect God.
But that is a lie formed out of our broken condition and fostered by the enemy of our souls. He tries to crush us and grind us into dust. If possible He will get us to hide in solitude2 licking our wounds of guilt and shame. His one mission is to steal, kill and destroy3 our destiny.
Where We Are
Here’s where we are in the story. We are scattered like broken pieces being ground underfoot. We have an enemy who wants to keep us there. We are in the age-old plot. We have come to the end of our resources. There seems to be no positive way out.
Thankfully, God in His mercy provided the solution. All we need to do is gather up the broken pieces of our lives—the crushed, mangled and misused—and present them to the perfection we know as God.
“We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”4
The New Cup
The cup was cleaned up quickly. A new cup arrived with green tea and milk all warmed to perfection. The most difficult job I had that day was making sure I did not spill my tea nor destroy the big, round orange cup with the while handle. You can see the mugs in the video at the end of this post..
When I left that day, I received a gift bag with books, a candy bar (which I put the bowl in the guest area) and a stylish orange mug. This one wasn’t a fat, round mug. It was a smaller, more shapely mug, emblazoned with the Real Life logo.
There is an analogy here. If you know my story you can probably guess.
When I handed my broken pieces to God,—all the big, round, engorged pieces.—He gave me a totally different shape, desire and destiny.
“The old is gone. The new is here.”5
1 Isaiah 64:6 NLT
2 Psalm 143:3 ESV
3 John 10:10 ESV
4 Romans 5:2 MSG
5 2 Cor. 5:17 NLT
Teresa Shields Parker was a guest on CTVN’s Real Life Show in Pittsburgh. To hear her Living Well segment and the additional interview at the end of the show, simply click the arrow.