Broken and Shattered

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It was a day of bees in the clover and bolls on the cotton. While heat radiated from the asphalt, the constant drip of the outdoor facet kept the fresh mint alive into the autumn. Windmill blades creaked overhead, and two orphaned goats kicked in the stall. It was an Indian summer in West Texas, and I was determined to delight in every minute

Taking to our bikes, my near-age nephew and I rode for miles on dirt roads that afternoon. Our mothers were picking the last black-eyed peas in the field, so no watchful eye kept us moderated. As our pedal speed increased, so did our confidence. 

My memory dims at this point except for the moment when my back wheel fishtailed. My left handlebar lurched toward the gravel drive, which seared a slow-mo of the event onto my mind. That I do remember. Even now, I can replay the endless seconds of skidding and scraping before my thumb abrasively ground the bike to a stop

Some of the projection frames of memory are deleted here. But then, I remember my brother-in-law bending over to scoop me into his arms. As we neared the house, I dreaded what might happen, knowing my Mama wasn’t available to nurse my wound. (In my experience, women nurtured, and men could only farm).

Once in the house, however, Ray’s work-worn, calloused hands proved as gentle as a mother’s. He tweezed the tiny rocks from my injury and foamed the remainder of my nail with hydrogen peroxide. I’d never seen him move so tenderly. As I whimpered, he coaxed without reprimand and comforted without reproach. With the skill of a medic, he fashioned a temporary guard from sanitized chicken wire and covered it with gauze and medical tape.

I can still visualize Ray’s stooped frame when I read that the Lord “binds up the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1). I don’t think about a Teledoc phone directive or a trip to an unknown ER. Instead, I see our Father, like Ray, bending near as He patiently bears our whining and gently dresses our wounds (Psalm 34:18). 

How precious that the “brokenhearted” described in Psalm 34:18 also includes those crushed in mind, will, and understanding (see Strong’s Lexicon H3820 – Hebrew word for heart – “leb“). Our minds are the most likely receptacle of our anguish. God bends low, knowing He must draw impurities from our thinking as well as our hearts. 

And this isn’t all. He also “saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). In Hebrew, “crushed” is the word “dakā,” literally picturing a powder that’s been smashed, pulverized, and ground into dust. Over the last several years, many of us would agree that our heart has shattered into fragmentary, powdery particles. It is for this lowly state that God comes near.

For this is the word of Him who is high and lifted up, whose resting-place is eternal, whose name is Holy: ‘My resting-place is in the high and holy place, and with him who is crushed (dakā) and poor in spirit, to give life to the spirit of the poor, and to make strong the heart of the crushed (dakā)‘” (Isaiah 57:15 – The Bible in Basic English). 

With a tenderness and wisdom we cannot comprehend, our Holy Medic gathers all our dusty particles together and creates again from the dusty ground (Genesis 2:7). Gently handled as He did with the first man, the Lord forms and quickens us with the breath of His Spirit. He resuscitates us into something new. Our portion is to inhale His life and exhale our prayers.

Do not call to mind the former things or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19). 

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“Father, I’m broken — bandage me. I’m crushed into powder — revitalize my heart. I give You all the pieces so that You can do something new. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”