A woman attends her office party where everyone was instructed to bring the absolute worst gift they could find. It could be anything they had – but it needed to be the worst possible gift. She shows up at the party, and Jesus is there. She is told to give her gift to him, but she’s immediately embarrassed about it. “If I had known I would be giving a gift to you, Jesus, I would have chosen something a little better,” she says.
Jesus assures her that he wants the gift she chose to bring, so reluctantly, she gives it to him. Jesus opens the box and pulls out a shattered piece of pottery, a stained t-shirt, and a broken flashlight while the woman stands there ashamed.
Jesus looks at her and knows what she feels. He can see the stories behind each of those messed up gifts, and he understands the pain within them. “Thank you so much for bringing me this,” he tells her. “Now I would like to give you a gift.”
He hands her a box and she slowly looks inside to find a cross, a drop of blood, and a candle. Bewildered, she looks up at him. He explains, “I knew the agony that I would endure to make you mine. I knew the hell that I would experience; this drop of blood shows that. Even still, it was not enough to keep me from going to the cross. Every worst mistake was nailed there. Nothing remains. It’s all paid for, so here is my cross. And this candle… It shows that there is light in the midst of the darkness. There is a hope.”
Jesus then reaches behind him and pulls out another box, one that looks exactly like the gift she gave him a few moments before. The woman is clearly confused. “You have another gift?” He instructs her to open the box. Inside she finds a beautiful piece of pottery, a brand new t-shirt, and a bright, shining flashlight.
Wonder struck, she looks at Jesus. He says, “Everything you gave me, I have now made whole. The broken pottery you gave me – the one you thought could never be put back together again – is new and whole. The stained shirt you gave me is now totally clean, though the world tells you those stains could never wash away. This flashlight is for you to remember that you are a light for me despite the darkness you’ve felt. You are a testament to my love, and that light will shine for others.”
This little story can rock your world if you let it. When I first heard it, I didn’t accept it. I chose to feel the hurt of sin and mistakes instead, and I chose to wallow in the lie that things are now stained and forever messed up.
That’s not what Jesus says here.
Though it can be a mighty hard thing to do, believing Jesus’ words brings so much more peace than reciting lies to yourself over and over again.
When things seem irreparable, Jesus is saying, “I’ll do something with that. I’ll make that new.” Be careful: The devil will tell you that can’t really be possible now, can it? He’ll tell you that even though it may be new, it’s still lesser because sin has forever marked it.
“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?…Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one – for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one – for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” (Romans 8: 31-34)
All the past mistakes, all the past regrets, all the feelings of disappointment and darkness… They are all covered with Jesus’ forgiveness. When he looks on us, he no longer sees sin. He sees purity. A shimmering radiance. That’s who I want to see myself as today, and that’s how I want to see others.
I would like to stop trusting my petty words of unbelief, and instead trust in the new life that Christ Jesus offers me and has bought for me. If you are struggling with lies, I want to encourage you to look within God’s word and find truth to cling to. He has made things new; no one can ever take that away from you. Don’t settle by believing that things are now lesser because your sin has tainted it. Rejoice that things are now even better because God can and will touch heartache and bring sparkling beauty to what was once lost. And that is never a lesser beauty to settle for.
*The story line was taken from a skit that my church performed on Christmas (2016). I thought it was too incredible to not share.
“When you see broken beyond repair I see healing beyond belief When you see too far gone I see one step away from home
When you see nothing but damaged goods I see something good in the making I’m not finished yet When you see wounded, I see mended”
-Matthew West, Mended