Seven years ago this month, our family moved from Spain back to the states. Of all the moves we’ve made — and we’ve made several — that was the most difficult. Because it wasn’t just belongings packed in those suitcases. My dreams were in there.
The short version of this very long story is that our family spent three years preparing for a lifetime of ministry in Spain that ended up lasting only ten months. And when we left, I felt like a complete and utter failure. I had our story all planned out. It began with us moving to Madrid and ended with us being buried there, sixty years later, after leaving the legacy of a lifetime of fruitful ministry and deep friendships.
Right after we arrived back in the USA, our family attended a “debriefing” at a missionary training center in Colorado. The people there loved on us and helped us through the process of adjusting to our shattered dream. I am so grateful for their ministry. One of the facilitators shared what has become an unforgettable analogy:
She compared our life to a vase. When a candle is placed inside a vase, the light comes out of the top. But imagine that vase is broken. It breaks into dozens of pieces. And imagine that someone comes in and glues it all back together, piece by piece. What happens when you put the candle in now?
The light shines through all the broken places.
And that’s exactly what has happened. God has used our brokenness to help us shine even brighter for Him. I have compassion where I never used to have compassion. I have been humbled. I have been reminded that this world is not our home. I know that God is in control of everything and His ways don’t always make sense, but they are always good.
And lots of good has come from that move. I could fill pages and pages with the incredible ways God has lavished His grace on us in the past seven years. But nothing compares to knowing Him. And it is through those very difficult times that we grow to know Him the best, when we depend on Him the most. And when He brings us through those times, we are better equipped to serve others and to help them through their difficult times.
So to those of you reading this who may be in the “broken” stage right now: Hang on. Let God take those peices and put them back together. Let Him shine through you in ways you never imagined. Let Him comfort you, help you, and heal you.
“If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” Ps. 34:18 MSG