Useful Brokeness

from the pen of Jeff Joyner

One day, my mother brought home a vintage clock that she purchased from a local antique store. Even though she had no idea where to put it, she felt compelled to buy it, since it appeared to be in good, working order. When I first saw it, I couldn’t figure out why she bought it. It looked to me like it was worn out, and had already served it’s purpose. It would also require one of us to wind it up every day with a key, just for it to be useful. All that didn’t seem to matter to my mother, and she proceeded to have my dad make a shelf, to display this worn out relic from the past.

For the next couple of years, we would all take turns, winding up the clock, and resetting the time, just to keep it going. In spite of our best efforts, there were still times, where the clock would remain motionless for days, due to the fact that we were all occupied with other activities. One day, I noticed the clock had stopped, and got the key as usual, to wind it back up. As I was turning the key, the spring mechanism gave way, causing it to spin in the opposite direction. Not only did this render the key completely useless, but the hands eventually came off as well. My mother finally acknowledged that the clock was broken.

Even though it was broken, the clock still remained on the shelve for the next couple of years. Then one day, my mother got an idea. As a gifted artist, who had painted many portraits and landscapes, she decided that she would use the clock as a canvas, to paint a picture that would last, well beyond it’s inner mechanisms. When she was through, it was clear that a new purpose for a broken and lifeless clock had emerged.

As you can see in this old picture, the clock is proudly displayed behind me.

And though it’s original purpose was shattered by brokenness, a new beauty has been brought to life, which has lasted for several years. As I think back on this experience, it’s obvious to me, that in the same manner, God uses our brokenness, to bring to life His pictures of beauty in and through us. And yet, the pictures that he paints will last for more than just a few years. They will in fact, last for all eternity.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”‭‭ Psalms‬ ‭34:18‬

You Never Know

I was visiting Pompano Beach, a nice place to escape to for a few days . From my window on the tenth floor, along with the intra coastal waterway and the beach (yes, great view), I could see a small grassy park with a raised mound of grass in the center. I didn’t think too much of it. Maybe it was part of a children’s playground. Maybe the city workers weren’t paid enough to level it. Maybe the Mole Man (Marvel Comic’s Villain) was burrowing up to take over the world. I didn’t know. It was just a mound of dirt.

After a closer examination, I could see a small brick structure at the top of the mound. The next morning, I took a walk to see what this mound and structure was. Actually, I looked it up online first, but that’s far more boring than pretending I didn’t know what it was until I got there. Anyway, when I reached the mound (yes, I really walked there) I discovered this tiny park was called Indian Mound Park. The mound is an old burial ground containing the bones of Tequesta Indians who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago. The little brick structure is a memorial with a commemorative metal plate explaining that the Tequesta buried their dead in community graves.

The past is everywhere around us. You never know where there might be an ancient burial ground (home developers, watch Poltergeist and beware). You never know where there might be lost treasure. Here in Florida, we have a stretch of coast called the Gold Coast because people are always finding coins, jewelry, and pottery from the hundreds of ships that sank in that stretch of water. You never know how much of the past you’re surrounded by until you start intentionally looking for it. Then you find out that the past surrounds you. It’s inescapable. So don’t ignore it. Respect it. And learn from it.

Changing Roads

from the pen of Jeff Joyner

One morning, while on vacation in Michigan, my grandmother asked me and my younger brother, if we would go on a hike with her out in the country. She wanted to gather some wild berries, which she used to make her homemade pastries. She was also an avid photographer, who enjoyed taking pictures of wildflowers. We weren’t really excited about going, but she promised to make us one of her blueberry pies, if we went with her. That was definitely enough to convince us to go.

That afternoon, we hiked out to this beautiful field, where wild berries were growing in abundance. For the next couple of hours, we picked enough fruit to provide ample preserves, for the harsh Michigan winter. As dusk began to set over the countryside, my grandmother asked if she could take a picture of each of us, before we left. When it was my turn, she said, “I want you to stand sideways, and look straight at that fork in the road, where the two paths split. That way I can take a picture of your profile, with the beautiful sunset behind you.”

My grandmother’s comments completely caught me off guard. Little did she know, I was in the midst of a serious life crisis, where I was facing a “fork in the road” of my own. In this case, it had to do with my relationship with God. The first road, led to the one true God, which would require a total surrender on my part. The second road, led to a god of my own making, which would require me nothing. As my grandmother snapped the picture, it had become clear to me, that I had already chosen the wrong road.

The next several years were very difficult. My life was unraveling before my very eyes. The path that had once promised me freedom, had now led to betrayal. One day, while in college, I was talking with a friend about my commute to school. He mentioned that there was a different road I could take, that would substantially cut my commute time in the mornings. The next day, I decided to take this alternative route. As I was driving, a song came on that I had listened to hundreds of times. On this particular morning, one lyric now seemed to tower above the rest:

“There’s still time to
change the road you’re on.”

I eventually did change the road I was on, and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. Since then, I have been radically changed, and have seen HIM be the one, to lead me into pastures of plenty. And the fruit that he has produced along the way, can only be attributed to his immeasurable, and awe inspiring grace, which rescued me, those many years ago.

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John‬ ‭14:6‬