A 16-hour road trip to San Diego from our home in Idaho was interesting, to say the very least. Miles of desert, horizons that just seem to get further away the harder you push the gas, and in my case, lots on my mind. And as you probably know, whenever you’re going through an uphill climb in life, sometimes being locked into a confined space with nothing else to occupy your cluttered mind is the WORST.
But luckily, there were pit stops. My favorite pit stop happened to be the summer home of Brigham Young, which sat relatively close to the beautiful St. George LDS temple. I don’t know what it was about walking through that home and hearing the stories of sacrifice and love, but it gripped my heart.
And then we stopped at this chair.
It looks like a normal chair, right?
Many, many years ago a young woman was walking past a junk pile that was waiting for trash pick up and she noticed the back of the chair sticking out from the mounds of rubbish. She pulled it out and noticed the design was rather unique and wondered if there was more to it. So, carefully, she picked at the pile and pulled pieces of the broken chair one after another from the pile. After all the pieces were retrieved she brought it to a historian who gasped at the sight of the pieces. This wasn’t just any chair. This was a one-of-a-kind chair from Thomas Cottam, who was a brilliant chair maker in the mid 1800’s, revolutionizing design and practicality and shape. These chairs were so scarce to come by and were esteemed very highly for the time they were created.
So, piece by piece, the chair was put back together, re-sanded, glossed up, and positioned proudly in an area that can be seen by visitors coming through every day.
I remember hearing that story with the group of visitors and placing a hand on the back of the simple chair as everyone walked past, eager to head to the next room. And I remember thinking about the broken pieces that ended in the trash pile.
This chair, valuable beyond measure, and highly regarded as a work of art for its time, was broken apart, scattered in rubbish, and waiting for its end. But then, someone recognized it, took the time to find all the parts, and restored it to its original beauty.
I think I sometimes forget that. Sometimes we are broken apart, scattered all about with no direction and little purpose. We feel scarred, used up, completely and utterly useless after the storm hits and we splinter and fail. Sometimes we sit in a million pieces and just wait for it all to end. Sometimes we forget how to stand.
And then–it happens. Just like that.
The Savior will undoubtedly come along, often when we feel it’s about time to give up, and he’ll find the pieces. And with gentle and unwavering hands he will gather those pieces together and find our value amidst our rubble. He doesn’t care about the trash around us–the sin, the mistakes, the confusion and doubts and insecurities. He doesn’t care that we turned away from Him and that we left a mess in our wake. He doesn’t care if we were our own storm. All he cares about is gathering what was lost and restoring us to our original beauty–the one that the Maker intended us to be.
There is no grand chair maker who wants his masterpiece to end in broken things. There is no artist who wants his Mona Lisa to be hidden away in a drawer somewhere. There is no writer who’s words should gather dust and no carpenter who wants his carvings to swell and crack in the rain. Art is meant to withstand the ages.
So are you. You’re an eternal work of art.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 so simply and beautifully reminds us, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
But I know. It’s easy to forget when you’re broken into a million pieces or when over time, you’ve been chipped away at a little at a time, you’ve bent a little, you’ve warped in the storm, you’ve lost a few elements of yourself. Sometimes we lose our original shape and we forget the way the master originally crafted us. Thankfully, we have a Savior who remembers who we’re supposed to be and who finds the pieces amongst our mess.
It’s just a chair when you pass it by, I guess. I never would have known how special it was. How it’s worth hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars because of the master who created it. I’d never guess that at one point it was sitting by a dumpster. It seems like an unlikely story.
But so is yours.
And that’s the grand artistry of it all, even amongst your broken things.
So don’t give up–not for a single second. Like the chair, your master will come and find all the broken parts. Like the chair, your value will be restored and you will find the purpose that you have always had.
Your brokenness is the start of the healing.