Author and speaker Elisa Morgan offers hope and encouragement as she shares personal stories of brokenness to illustrate how God can bring about redemption from the tragic circumstances of our lives. (Part 2 of 2)
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Elisa Morgan: It felt to me as I continued to do this, round after round like everything was falling off the walls in my life in this season. And as I bent down, I had such grief and yet, I felt God wrapping His arm around me and saying, "I know you feel like you're beyond help here, but you're not beyond Me. And that moment has stuck with me. Thank God, I wasn't.
End of Recap
John Fuller: Reflections from Elisa Morgan, describing a small disaster in her home that became symbolic for a much bigger thing that God was doing and she's back with us again today on "Focus on the Family" with Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, a lot of people can relate to what Elisa is describing there, that pain, especially in today's culture where a lot of good things seem to be crumbling and falling down all around us. At our website this month, we've been talkin' about the storms of life--things like the redefinition of marriage or when one spouse says to another, "I don't love you anymore; I want a divorce." Or when kids get into trouble and walk away from their faith. Those are tough moments. Those storms can be particularly difficult for Christian families, because we thought we were doing things right. We're following the rules and God certainly is gonna reward us with well-behaved perfect environments--our kids, our marriage, whatever it might be--where nothing ever goes wrong.
But then inevitably in life, something strikes us, because we live in a fallen world, a world full of sin, away from God's design and we can lose sight of God in that moment and we feel lost and alone in that pain. But today we have a message of hope for you if you're in that spot, a speech that we started last time based on Elisa's book, The Beauty of Broken and I'm tellin' you, this is powerful stuff. If you missed part one, how could I say it strongly enough, get the CD or go to the website and get the download. You're not gonna regret this talk by Elisa.
John: It is very powerful and it'll have meaning for someone in your life and you can get that at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Now earlier I mentioned a small disaster that occurred in Elisa's home and as she described it, there was a loud crash and she went to investigate and discovered a hutch full of antique dishes from her grandmother had fallen to the floor and the loss of those precious heirlooms was heartbreaking for her, but Elisa found comfort in God's presence in the midst of that storm and that's the theme of her message. Let's continue now with more from Elisa Morgan on today's "Focus on the Family."
Elisa: Think of it this way, if God the "perfect" parent, didn't create a perfect family, why do we think we will? I think it's time to talk. From the vantage point of survival, I can see that I swallowed wrongly the thought that it was my fault that my family fell and broke. And so I decided wrongly that it was my responsibility assigned to me by God to create a perfectly intact second family. Neither is really true.
And I want to say this to you right now. The problem is that every one of us is broken. I'm broken. All of us are broken. We share in brokenness. God's children are broken. And I've come to understand that God can offer a form of 'broken family values, that we can still shape [into] a beautifully broken legacy. We don't have to apologize over our neediness.
It's not like once we become Christians (Sound of clap of hands) we're done struggling, okay? We're not. Every day we get up and we mess up. Pretty much, if you're just "Mother Normal," you are messin' it up by 9:30 in the morning (Laughter). We all are. If we were done, we would be dead, okay? So, we're not done.
The thing is, is that God gets it that abnormal is pretty much normal, that His children are wayward beings and His heart leans toward us. He is so committed to us that He knows that we are never, ever, ever, ever, none of us without hope, without the hope of what He can do in redemption. And this is as true for you as it is for the moms and the girls that you serve.
That will look messy at times and that will give God glory in every single moment, unapologetically. This is the time we're supposed to be human. We'll be perfect later. Right now we're human, humans in need of a Savior, sinners in need of a Savior.
The brokenness—I want you to hear this—in your first family is not your fault. It is not up to children to keep their parents married. It is not up to children to make sure their parents don't abuse drugs or alcohol. It is not up to children to earn a living for their family. It is not up to children to make sure their parents have appropriate sexual boundaries. It is not your fault if you come from a broken family. Yes. (Applause)
And there may be ways in which honestly, there are pieces of our second family which is broken. Okay, I told you not to raise your hand. Don't look at me, but you know. There are things in our second family that are broken. Some of those may be part by our hand and if so, we need to say we're sorry.
But here's what I love, love, love, love, love about God. When that hutch clattered off the walls in my home and it felt like everything was toppling before me, yes, God bent down next to me and He said, "You're not alone; You're not beyond Me. I'm here." Because God does not sweep up the shards and walk them over to the trash. He picks up one shard and He looks at it and He knows exactly what He has in mind that, that can become, because God takes the pieces of our brokenness and He crafts a beautifully broken legacy that becomes our offering.
Things put into His hands, our brokenness put in His hands, can actually be more effective than those things that have never broken and fallen. He can sculpt a beautifully broken legacy. And I want to hold out to you a couple of sentences. First I want to start with this one. This is from Isaiah 53:5. This is the healing of our brokenness. It is not [up to] me to create a perfectly intact second family. This is Jesus's response for our brokenness. The prophet Isaiah prophesies. "He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds we're healed."
That word "wounds" are actually broken blood vessels, black and blue marks. By Jesus' breaking, we are made whole. It's not up to you to save your family. [Whispering] It's up to Jesus. It's not up to you to create and craft perfectly intact. You're gonna do your best. You're gonna give your most, but it's by His wounds that when we fall and we break, He will heal us.
God began to free me and say, "Elisa, I really don't expect you or hold you accountable for every decision your child makes. I hold you responsible for being a good mother, for your choices, for what you've invested there. They will be responsible for their choices."
For example, as parents we go, "That is a pothole. Stay out of the pothole." We scream about it. We put flashing lights on it. They picked up the placard and they throw it off and so, we dive and put our bodies across the pothole. (Laughter) "Don't go near the pothole!" And they pick us up and throw us away and dive down in the pothole!
In such a moment, I go, uh! Not mine! Not mine! I can't go down in the pothole and save my kid. I can go down and stay at the edge and watch and say, "I'm here. I'm here." And I love you, but it is not my job to save them. By His wounds we are healed. It is Jesus who has the power to save our children, not us. It is Him.
So, let me hold out to you two sentences to craft a beautifully broken legacy. The first one is, God loves the broken. He loves broken people. He loves broken people in families. He loves the broken. He loves us so much that He's not gonna leave us the way we are, but He's gonna continually reform us into who He means for us to be, through brokenness.
That's what redemption is. Take me. I'm not the same person I was. I'm not the same person I was when my dad called me into his study and told me they were gonna get divorced. And I'm not the same person I was when I helped my mom get out of bed. I'm not the same person I was when I got married. I'm not the same person I was when I became a mom or a grandmother. I'm different. I'm different. I'm broken.
And when people ask questions about faith and God and this and that and the other, I have a lot of answers and I love just to share what I've discovered from God's Word, which is so precious. But there are times when my hand stays down and I realize, I don't have some of the answers. And when my neighbors come and they need to be comforted, I find that rather than offer a quick platitude, sometimes I just put my arm around them and bow my head and pray and share that pain and that desperate plea that God be present in ways I don't know how to drum Him up. Only He can do that.
I'm different. I'm broken. And the pieces of me are different and I've gotta share that I'm pretty sure you're like this, too.
John: Some godly truth today from Elisa Morgan, our guest on "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and this is part two of a message from Elisa called "The Beauty of Broken" and that's based on her book by the same title. Order both parts of this message on CD or as an audio download, along with a copy of Elisa's book when you're at www.focusonthefamily.com/radioor we'll tell you more when you call 800-A-FAMILY. We'll look forward to hearing from you and now let's continue with more from Elisa Morgan on "Focus on the Family."
End of Program Note
Elisa: When I was a young adult, I tried to connect with my dad and I called him up to see if I could gather and be with him again. And we ventured across the country to meet him and he said, "I'll spend the weekend with you." And after 30 minutes or so, I excused myself. I thought he must be done with me. I hardly saw him at all. I saw him like once a year, so I thought 30 minutes, you know, 20 years, that's probably plenty for him.
But as I was going back to my hotel room I ran into his wife and she said, "Elisa, why aren't you with your dad?" I said, "Well, I figured he was done with me." She said, "No, no, no, no, no." And I gulped and I thought "I'm not sure if I have the courage to do this."
And I went back to my room where I had been reading in Scripture and I came to 1 John 4, verse 18. This is the Amplified Version. Let's read it out loud. "There is no fear in love. Dread does not exist. But full-grown love, complete and perfect love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror. For fear brings with it the thought of punishment. And so, he or she who's afraid has not reached the full maturity of love."
And I realized I was afraid. I was afraid of punishment. I was afraid he would go, "Done with you. You're too much. Leaving you" and he was gonna reject me all over again. And sitting with God with this verse, I began to understand that Jesus had already endured the punishment of rejection that I was afraid of going through, when He hung on the cross and His heavenly Father turned His back, allowing Jesus to carry the penalty of our sins. He did that and I don't need to be afraid of it ever again because Jesus has taken that for me. I can be free to risk, because it's actually no risk. Does that make such great sense? There is no fear in love, because I don't need to be afraid of it anymore. I'm broken. I'm different. I'm changed. God loves the broken.
I remember trying this on, trying to understand what this would mean for me in my everyday life. And someone gave me a challenge to spend just a couple of minutes every day thinking about the fact that God loves me. Okay, that was the challenge. God loves you. Sit down and think about it, two or three minutes every day.
I had never heard that before! I had heard "God loves you." "Jesus loves you." I'd never heard that first person, God to me, "I love you, Elisa." Have you ever heard that? I love you, Jenny. I love you, Kristen. I love you, Marge. I love you, Karen. I love you, Amanda. I love you, Debbie. I love you, James. I love you, Thomas. I love you, Brenda. I love you Beth. I love you! That's what God says. That's how He feels about us. I love you. God loves the broken.
He loves broken people and He loves broken families and He loves us too much to leave us the way we are, but He's reshaping and redeeming and reforming us into who we already are in Jesus and that's a process and we get to participate with Him every day because He loves us. "I love you," He says. That's the first sentence.
The second sentence is that God uses the broken. God uses the broken. He uses broken families and the broken people in this. It's hard to understand this at first but when you look at Scripture, this is not a new concept.
In Exodus, Chapter 32 we see two broken stone tablets used to cause the Israelites to repent of their disobedience. In Psalm 51, God uses a broken heart to return King David to Himself after his sin. In Mark, chapter 2, God uses a broken roof for four friends to lower a cripple into the presence of Jesus, that Jesus might heal him.
In Matthew chapter 14, He uses broken loaves to feed 5,000 people, which with women and children is more like 15,000 people. In Luke chapter 5, He uses broken nets to help the disciples understand that they're not called to fish for fish, but they're called to fish for people and that by God's power, they will bring people into the kingdom of God.
In Mark chapter 14, He uses a broken flask when Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus, showing Him that a relationship with Jesus results in a response, that we're changed because of Him. We act out of our faith. He uses a broken ship in Acts 27 to 28 to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people on an island, a remote island of Malta, who would never have heard of Him if Paul had not been shipwrecked there.
God uses the broken until He uses a broken body to carry our sin. He's pierced for our transgressions. By His wounds we are healed.
It's hard at first to understand this, because the truth is, that what we've been told and what we believe is when we're broken, that's actually grounds for disqualification. "I'm sorry; you have messed up and so, you don't get to serve anymore here. You need to sit out there, you know, with your scarlet letter, whichever letter it happens to be. You sit out there. You don't get to be in here. This is for the 'perfect'" and so, we slap on these masquerades of, I'm perfect, I'm perfect, when no one is, right? And we elevate and relegate various sins and human conditions, based on our particular understanding in this century.
And the reality is, I just want to suggest that our brokenness, when placed into God's hands, by His wounds we are healed, our brokenness doesn't have to disqualify us. Our brokenness can actually further qualify us for service.
My niece, Laura, who lives in this area, was in a horrible automobile accident 18 months ago. She lost the ability to talk, to walk, to do just about anything that any of us count on. Before this, Laura was a tough "mudder," if you know what I mean? You know, all the "mudding" competitions?
She was a cellist. She was a speech pathologist. She was a marathon runner. Laura has had to learn to walk and to talk. Isn't that ironic? She can walk and she can talk. She looks a little different, but she's there and she's making her way back. And it's hard for her right now to hold onto this, but because Laura has had to learn to talk again as an adult, don't you just know God is gonna be using her rehab to help rehab others? And that's what He does in us. He uses our redemption rehabilitation, reformation to enable us to call others into theirs. And it may be moments you can't even comprehend.
Can God use a teen pregnancy in your home? Yes, He can. Can God use an incarceration in your home? Yes, He can. Can God use a divorce? I know He has.
Can He use where you've fallen and fall down and it's no fault of your own? And when you fall and fall down because you did make a wrong choice? Yes, He can. Because if we say He can't, we say He's not God. "By His wounds, we are healed."
Paul writes that we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God, because He doesn't sweep us up and throw us away. He restores. He redeems. He reforms.
In Japan, there is an art called kintsugi. When the Japanese mend broken objects, the aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold and it's said that in those places where gold has been filled in, those places are actually stronger than before they were broken.
I was in an antique store in London and I came across these plates. They looked so much like the plate that was on the cover of my book. They grabbed my attention. They were a stack of six of them. If you can look at that, you'll see there's a crack running through it. I was mesmerized. I thought how do they hold these together? And I turned them over and this is what I saw. The plates had been stapled on the back. What? I took them up to the proprietor and I said, "What is this?" And she said, "Oh, these are from the Victorian age and this was an ancient technique of how we would repair pottery." I thought to myself and then I said out loud, "Why would you bother? Why would you bother? Why wouldn't you just throw it away?" She said, "Oh, really? In Victorian age if you have a choice to eat off of a board or a repaired china plate, what would you do?"
Isn't that what God does with us? He doesn't throw us away! He doesn't replace us with boards. But He takes the body of His Son and He staples it to a cross to redeem us, because there is beauty in the broken.
I come from a broken family and despite my very best efforts, I still come from a broken family. My husband and I are still in full-time ministry. We still bow our heads over our meals and we say a blessing. We still kinda mess up and judge people and think we've got it all together and tell our kids what they should [do to] close their mouths.
Today I've been married 35 years (Cheer). Yes. (Applause) Dear stable soul has stayed. He's amazing! My grown kids are paving their own paths. They love Jesus. Sometimes they go to church. They pray in text messages. They evidence their beliefs in inked symbols on their bodies. (Laughter) My daughter expresses her love for Jesus still as she listens to people's woes and wonders as she cuts and styles their hair. And she advocates for her son at every step in the way. And her husband stands by her side at this, that and the other health issues. And he's so gentle that he won't even kill an intruding Praying Mantis, but he ushers it out on a broom.
My son turns the pages of his Big Book and he looks my husband and I in the eye and thanks us for yet another choice, another chance, another day.
Elisa: Just a week and a half ago he stood in a place very like this while my husband stood before him and a beautiful woman stood next to him and he was married. (Applause) And my husband preached the beauty (Laughter) of black and white, black and white, as their symbol for their wedding was black and white stripes, black and white stripes, which really in their minds represented two lives coming together, two different lives that made something unique and different together. But as my husband preached to them, black and white also represents all of life and they so value all of life, because they've been so much of it already. And he helped them understand that we long for the white places in our marriages and in our lives, the times of blessing and we don't particularly value the dark ones.
But on the color wheel, white is the absence of color and black is the presence of color—magenta and yellow and blue. And really when both come together, we have a rich and deep and meaningful life. And it's nothing to be afraid of, but rather something to be embraced. We continue our family. We're gooey in the middle. If you put a toothpick in us and pulled it out, it'd be kind of Ew! Ew! (Laugher) Not done yet. Push it back in. Turn a little longer. I come from a broken family and I'm pretty sure that this is my story, but it's yours, too.
John: And with that, we'll conclude this two-day inspirational message from Elisa Morgan, as she talks about some of the content in her book, The Beauty of Broken. You're listening to "Focus on the Family" with our president, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.
Jim: John, I so appreciated Elisa's vulnerability. It's what we connect with as human beings. We struggle connecting with perfect, but when we hear brokenness, we tend to recognize that in our own heart and we open up to it in our hearts, as well. It takes a lot of courage to admit our mistakes and flaws. I don't know, I struggle with that.
John: All the time.
Jim: I'm definitely flawed, but you don't want to talk about that stuff. I think one of the biggest mistakes we make in the Christian community is when we try so hard to portray that perfection. It's the image we want to uphold and we tend to send off that signal that we're better than you and that's what the Pharisees were doing, wasn't it, and that judgmental kinda arrogant attitude.
How much better when we're willing to share the broken places and how imperfect we are, like Elisa did and reveal how God, the perfect One, is working to repair and restore those cracks in our lives. That's the Gospel. It's the Good News. None of us are perfect. We're all broken. We all fall short of God's glory, but Jesus Christ came to redeem all of that and reconnect us with God and with each other.
John: And Focus on the Family is here to help you understand ultimately that redemptive message of Jesus Christ and as Elisa said, brokenness is part of everyone's story and that's why we've been talking about storms of life here at Focus this past month in particular, looking for peace in those storms.
Jim: And it may be that you're living in the midst of a storm right now. That's where you're at. All you can see are your mistakes and your flaws and your shortcomings, that shame that you have about your imperfect life and maybe your imperfect family. We want to help you.
It's not about being perfect. It's about trying to get healthier and better and closer to God each and every day. We want to restore that hope in you and encourage you as you seek God's answers for those difficult situations. Can we pray with you? Can we offer you some resources to address whatever struggles you may be experiencing. Contact us today. Don't wait. If you say I'm gonna do it tomorrow, guess what? You're not gonna do it. Call us today. Don't wait.
John: And our number is 800-232-6459.
Jim: And as a reminder, we're listener supported and that's you. If you're listening, you're a listener. And I hope that you would support the ministry. We have some generous friends that do faithfully support us month in and month out. I hope if you have not given to Focus on the Family ever or maybe in a long time, you will step back into the gap and help deliver these timely truths from the Bible that repair broken relationships. Be there for somebody by helping Focus stand in the gap. Together we can change a life.
John: Our number again is 800-A-FAMILY or donate online at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio . And let me remind you about our matching grant opportunities this month. Some special friends have agreed to match your donation dollar for dollar to benefit this family ministry, which means your gift will have twice the impact in strengthening marriages and encouraging parents and ultimately, giving people hope for the future in Christ.
Now if you're able to help us out with a gift today of any amount, we'll say thanks by sending a complimentary copy of Elisa's book, The Beauty of Broken. It may be that you know of a friend who would benefit from her encouragement and if so, call now. Double that gift and we'll send the book to you, as well.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow for some reflection about the culture and how we can respond to a society that seems increasingly hostile to our Christian faith. That's next time, as we once again, help your family thrive.
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Elisa MorganView Bio
Elisa Morgan is a popular speaker and author who's written more than 15 books including She Did What She Could, The Beauty of Broken and Hello, Beauty Full. She is co-host of the nationally-syndicated radio program Discover the Word and President Emerita of MOPS International, a ministry dedicated to meeting the needs of moms. Elisa is also the co-founder of the online women's magazine FullFill. She and her husband, Evan, reside in Colorado and have two grown children and two grandchildren. Learn more about Elisa by visiting her website: www.elisamorgan.com.