The Lesson of the Shattering

Cup of SoupA couple of months ago, I decided to make a big pot of homemade soup. After the soup had simmered sufficiently, I stirred it one last time. Looking forward to finally being able to enjoy the soup, I pivoted to my right to get a dish off the bottom shelf of the wall cabinet next to me. But when I opened the upper cabinet door, a glass baking dish slid off the stack of dishes on the top shelf, falling straight toward me.

Caught unaware by the unexpectedness of the event, I had little time to react. My head reeled backward, but my feet remained stationary. At the same time, I (or someone—I really don’t know who it was) must have touched the falling dish just enough to divert its path. Instead of continuing to fall straight toward me, I distinctly remember watching the dish follow a trajectory that angled to my right-—an impossibility without some kind of assistance.

A moment later, the dish’s three foot fall came to an abrupt end when the dish slammed into the solid surface counter-top, literally shattering the dish to smithereens. The impact caused the broken pieces of glass to radiate outward, flying across the kitchen. Some of the glass landed in the sink full of dishwater. Other pieces flew or slid the entire twelve-foot length of the counter-top and beyond, with some pieces bouncing off the far back wall of the kitchen. Pieces of glass covered the kitchen floor, as well as a good portion of the adjacent dining room floor. In the words that my husband would later use to describe the scene, all that remained of the dish were “a thousand tiny, javelin-shaped shards” that seemed to be everywhere.

While the scene itself is fairly easy to convey, what happened in the silence that followed the explosion of glass is not. The event was surreal.

Though my conscious mind suddenly seemed to go absolutely blank of thought, something else deep within me shifted into high gear. I was “blank but not void.” The only comparison that I can make is to that of tube TVs from decades back. When one of the TVs would be turned on, the picture would not arrive on the screen instantaneously. Rather, the screen would remain blank for a good number of seconds while the set “warmed up.” The television’s inner system was functioning in its preparation to present a picture, but the picture could not be made visible until the work on the inside was complete. So it was with me.

In this “blank but not void” state, I remained motionless for several seconds. Then my eyes began to slowly sweep the room, surveying the disaster scene that surrounded me. Seeing glass everywhere, I slowly lowered my head to scan my body. I didn’t see a single piece of glass or drop of blood on me.

A few seconds later, though, a gruesome image from a movie scene popped into my head, reminding me of a movie character who the audience had been led to believe had been unharmed by flying glass… until the camera panned down to reveal large chunks of glass embedded in the character’s body. Seeing that image, I tiptoed in my socks through the “minefield” of glass, into the dining room. There I stared at my reflection in the wall mirror, affirming that my well-being, unlike the movie character’s, was real.

Then, while still “blank but not void,” I tiptoed back through the “minefield,” returning to the exact position where I had been standing when the dish had shattered. There I stood, just waiting… but for what? I didn’t have a clue, until the revelation arrived.

In an instant, the “screen” in my mind flashed on, as my mouth simultaneously whispered, “God, You saved me!” Then, while still absorbing that first admission, my tongue confessed the rest of the revelation: “Jesus IS my Savior.” (The stress that was placed on the word “is,” as the word was spoken, cannot be overemphasized.)

Reality was that the dish had shattered no more than two feet from where I had been standing, and I had made a good-sized target. I could (should) have had glass all over me:  on my clothes, in my hair, stuck to my socks… somewhere. I could (should) have looked somewhat similar to the injured movie character, but I didn’t. Not a single shard had touched me, let alone harmed me, not even when I had tiptoed through the debris.

The reality was incredible, seemingly impossible and, therefore, difficult to accept as true. Against all odds, I was completely unscathed (whole; unharmed).

The reality defied worldly explanation and required an adjustment in my thinking. That day, God “reconnected the dots” of information about Him that were in my mind, forming a more accurate portrayal of Himself than I had previously envisioned. In doing so, He defeated doubts that had stood between us, interfering with our relationship. As doubts fell, God gained ground, strengthening His stronghold on me.

God used the event that day to solidify our relationship, intervening in a way that I could not mistake in order to further solidify my belief in His active Presence in my life. He used the event, but He did not create it. He neither pushed the dish off the shelf nor doled out the repercussions of the fall as punishment. Rather, the laws of gravity and momentum, as well as other natural laws that resulted in the shattering, had been long established, put in place by God when He had created the world. By failing to heed God’s warning concerning my interaction with the laws, I became responsible for the mess that had been generated. The shattering was created by my lack of obedience, not by God’s will.

Earlier that day, after putting the dish away on the upper shelf, where it had been kept without incident for a couple of years, I had specifically heard the inner voice of God tell me that it wasn’t safe to leave the dish there. Reopening the cabinet door, I had checked the dish’s stability for myself. Then, deeming it to be “okay,” safe in my estimation, I had left the dish where I had placed it.

Had I been fully synchronized to God at that moment, I would have said, “Thanks” and moved the dish. But, my response—–more along the line of “Really? Hmm…. (check dish by touching it) It looks good to me”—–lacked both trust and awareness. I was more in sync with my own wishes than with the wishes of the One who was trying to keep me safe. In hindsight, the audacity of my reassurance that all was well is laughable. Frankly, though, it doesn’t surprise me, and I am sure that it didn’t surprise God.

The truth is that all was not well, though it could have been, had I taken the time to digest what God was saying to me. But I didn’t, and repercussions followed. A prolonged and thorough cleaning of the kitchen was necessary, a dish was forever gone, and the soup (not knowing if it contained glass or not) had to be discarded.

Yet, in the midst of the mess–—my mess that God had tried to prevent—–I remained standing, purely by God’s grace. This piece of Truth, far greater than any single incident, is the foundation of life, now and forever more.

Only by the grace of God do we (mankind), protected by the blood of Jesus, miraculously remain standing in God’s Presence after having experienced the epitome of all falls—–the Fall that shattered our (mankind’s) relationship with God. Adam and Eve, having chosen not to heed God’s warning regarding the fruit of one single tree, became responsible for the repercussions in this world that followed. Their lack of trust and awareness led them to check the forbidden fruit for themselves, touching it and then concluding, “Really? Hmm…  It looks good to me.”

Going their own way by following their own desires that contradicted God’s will—His best—for them, they separated themselves from God, the Source of all life. Apart from God, life deteriorates, resulting in decay, destruction, dismay and death. That is a fact of the nature of life, a fact established by God in the creation of life—–life that has always been tied to Him. The responsibility for the “mess” created in disobedience lies with mankind, not with God. We have each contributed to the “mess” with our own audacity.

Yet God (being God) stepped in to save us all from our own foolishness. Of this we can be certain: God wants only good for us in this life, as well as in the next one. The bottom line is that God is the salvation from our prideful egos that we all need right here and now, no matter where we are or what we are doing,

Even if we are quick to concur that God wants all men to be saved through faith in Jesus for eternity (1 Timothy 2:4), we may also be too quick at times to place self-defined limitations on what that salvation entails. In dependence upon our own judgment, instead of the indisputable Word of God, we can convince ourselves (though never God) that we know best. But, of course, we do not. We all—–including Adam, Eve and me–—have said (more than once), “It looks good to me” and proceeded to do things our way, failing to heed God’s warnings that were made known for our benefit.

But thank God for His grace that overcomes our every shortfall.

Jesus is moment to moment salvation in this life, as well as in the next. He is the One who delivers, the One who heals, the One who restores, the one who makes whole…  the One who is present tense Provision of all good things. He is life.

One day, the Truth of Jesus will be seen in His full glory, shattering all doubt to smithereens and putting an end once and for all to man’s audacity.

And when all is said and done, I am sure of one thing:  I will still be standing miraculously in Christ Jesus, purely by the grace of God, in spite of me.

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“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—” (Ephesians 2:8)

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