Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Broken Things

One of the advantages (or disadvantages, depending on your perspective) of lively in a wealthy time and place is that you accumulate a lot of 'stuff.' I have way too much stuff. I collect things (books and records) and in addition to that I have a lot of things that are useful or enjoyable to me. My home and my office are filled with things that are frivolous.

One of the consequences of this pattern of acquisition is that things are not valued as much as if they were rare to me. I do not get attached to my possessions the way I would if there were fewer of them. Scarcity creates an almost selfish preservation mentality. For the most part, I do not have that problem.

When I am finished with an item it is no problem for me to put it in a garage sale or flea market. I regularly take my clothes and other discarded items to Goodwill or some other thrift store or charitable/ mission organization. I can easily share the wealth with others, especially those who I perceive to have greater needs than I do.

This makes it much easier to dispose of broken things. I find it relatively easy to discard things that have worn out or been broken. Things that are no longer useful to me or anyone else get thrown away. I have thrown away dishes, clothes, cameras, computers, records, magazines, cars, toys, food, tapes, videos, mail, telephones, light bulbs and too many other things to name.

Often, it is more efficient to throw things away. After all, it is less expensive to buy a new television than to fix your old one. Just throw it away.

When things get broken, I get rid of them. Every Wednesday evening I cart a barrel full of broken things to the end of my drive and on Thursday morning a truck comes and takes it away. It is convenient and simple. I like it that way.

This is complicated when I encounter broken people, however. There are a lot of people who have problems. They have difficulties that I cannot understand. How easy it is for me to want to throw them away. How I am tempted to dismiss these men and women and children as too much trouble. I throw away everything else, why not people too?

But that is not God's way. God fixes broken people. No person should be thrown away. God is patient, willing and able to put together the broken pieces and restore life and health to anyone. This is a great lesson that I need to learn. I should be more understanding. More loving. More like God.

I want to throw broken people away, but God wants to fix them.

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