“This little horse broke his leg, Mama,” said my youngest child. Her hazel eyes were deep and soft as she held out her hand. A small, plastic horse lay in her palm. The broken leg was obvious. It wasn’t a new toy, but one that had taken a role in many fanciful play-times. It’s mane had long since been trimmed down to a stubble in big sister’s “hair salon,” and its flowing tail was gone because of some other misfortune. It was, however, more than the sum of its parts, and worth fixing, in my little one’s estimation.
“Can we tape it?” she asked. To her, tape is the answer to anything broken. Tape is, in her creative mind, one of the most useful things ever invented.
“If we tape it,” I said, “it won’t hold for long.” “If you have the rest of the leg, maybe daddy can glue it.” She ran out of the room, only to return moments later with the sad report that the other part of the leg could not be found.
When a toy breaks in our house, our children know that we do not immediately, or ever, replace it. They are faced with choices. If the toy is well-loved, they may choose to keep it, in its broken state, finding happiness in it, despite its imperfections. If the toy is broken or chewed (young dogs wreak havoc on toy kingdoms) beyond recognition, they usually make the choice to let it go.
My little one was not ready to make that choice, so I set the plastic horse on the kitchen windowsill, which also serves as our toy hospital, and told her that we would keep it for a few days in case the piece of leg turned up. Two or three days later, she ran into the kitchen, greatly excited, because she had found the other part of the leg.
Now, if she had thrown the horse away to begin with, or not bothered to look for the missing piece, she would have lost the opportunity for any future enjoyment this small horse would give her. Instead, she turned it over, with the simple faith that her daddy could fix it.
How many times do we try to fix something broken in our lives with the meager tape of our humanity? How many times do we wrestle with a problem at night, losing sleep, creating exhaustion and draining our energy; instead of giving it, with the faith of a child, to our Heavenly Father? Or perhaps we give most of our broken thing to Him, but we hold something back, unwilling to trust completely.
My husband did fix the little horse, but our child had to wait. When she found the missing piece, her daddy was on duty. He came home after 24 hours. Having been on calls most of the night, he needed to sleep as soon as he came in. When he woke, he ate breakfast and read his Bible. THEN, he fixed her toy, on his timetable, not hers. While the little horse waited for his leg to be found, our daughter didn’t ask to have him back. Nor did she nag her daddy when he got home to immediately glue the leg on. She simply waited, trusting him to fix her toy.
How often do we say, Lord, please fix this, I need your help NOW!? When He doesn’t answer right away, how often do we “nag” Him, questioning Him as to why He hasn’t fixed things YET? How often do we snatch back what we’ve given Him, examining it in the small of the night, worrying over it, turning the broken piece over and over again in our hands? God fixes things on His timetable, and in His own His way, which is usually not ours. We must trust Him with the firm belief that He loves us completely and will do that which is best for us.
Occasionally, the girls put a toy on the Windowsill Hospital that their daddy can’t fix. A doll, whose head has popped off, for example.
“Can’t you tape it on, or hot-glue it, Daddy?“ they ask. Sometimes, he has to say, “No, I can’t fix it. I’m sorry.” Then he asks, “What can you learn from this?” Maybe they need to learn to be more careful with their toys. Perhaps the toy broke through no fault of their own and they just need to learn that life is about losing as well as getting, not having as well as having, about leaving behind and moving on, about joy and sorrow, life and death. It’s about looking at what we have instead of what we don’t. It’s about choosing, sometimes, to let go.
Our Heavenly Father is different from an earthly daddy, because HE can fix anything. Sometimes, however, I believe His message is, “My child, I am choosing NOT to fix this, because there is something you need to learn.” He also knows that when we suffer loss, we cling more closely to Him, and that in our weakness, His strength can shine through us, as a beacon to others who need to find their way.
With child like faith, we should put the things in our lives that our broken on His windowsill. We must trust Him to gently pick up those broken things and fix them in His own time and in His own way. We need to be prepared to learn from that which is broken, and recognize that life is about losing as well as getting, about leaving behind and moving on, about joy and sorrow, life and death, focusing on what we have, and not what we don’t. Sometimes it means living with the brokenness and finding joy in it, allowing Him to make it beautiful. Through Him, and the power of His Spirit living in us, our brokenness can vitally touch the lives of others. That kind of beauty happens when we have a child-like faith.
How do we achieve the faith of a child? It starts when we confess our sins and believe that Jesus Christ paid our sin debt on the cross, buying us a ticket into the presence of the Almighty God. It grows when we work on developing a personal relationship with Him, praying to Him, listening to Him as we study His Word. It flourishes when we seek to follow His truth, not the truth of our own making. It is about turning over our lives to Him, with all the broken pieces, and trusting Him completely.
It involves recognizing that the hand which crafted the universe in all its splendor, is able to hold us steady, even when the pieces threaten to fall apart.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV translation)
“But He said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”