A senior, severely neglected, disabled dog huddled against my leg as I lay sprawled out across my donated small bed, a senior dog with chronic pain mashed up against the disabled one, a paralyzed dog on his bed right next to mine, 15 more all about my property. And then the phone. It rings. I let the voice mail pick up because I am looking in awe, yes, more awe, at a photo I took earlier today of a senior homeless man who couldn’t stop thanking me for a sleeping bag held tight in his arms, for the warm winter coat that he doesn’t know belonged to me and was given to me by my mother, the coat I didn’t want to part with, so humble the man was, so grateful, he could hardly hear me say I didn’t do this. God did. The voice mail took the message as I stared at the homeless man’s photo. I didn’t play the message until a few minutes later. So surrounded by what God has done. My God.
“Someone gave me your book today,” the man’s voice said on the voice mail. “Your book THE GREATEST LESSON OF ALL.” I can’t put it down. I’m only on the second page, but it’s just grabbed me. I’m homeless for the first time.” He continued with the message. And all I could think was this. My God. And this, too. But I didn’t want to give away copies. I knew the ministry could really use donations. Funds. Yet God told me to give two copies away today. I don’t know whose copy the man on the voice mail got. Maybe the copy from the homeless man who can hardly read. The one with my mother’s coat. The one who now I remember I gave a book to also. Oh, yes. It’s in the picture. The one I was staring at.
And to think all those years I spent staring at my broken life. I couldn’t see past me. Past the childhood sexual abuse, the addictions, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, hospitals, self-mutilation, suicidal thoughts and decisions, doctors, medications, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, self-help groups, recovery programs, 12 steps to this, and 12 steps to that, and only more brokenness, charity care, food stamps, welfare, disability, and the conclusion by professionals I would be broken and on medication for the rest of my life. Then here I am. Surrounded by a mirror of people and animals, of a broken world, that reflects back to me that God took this broken life of mine and made it into something beautiful. A vessel.
Imagine that. The life I didn’t want. God took it and took the hardness off my heart and took the broken pieces and got rid of the junk and taught me how to live. How to give. How to give not just anything. How to give Jesus. The Jesus who climbed a cross and died for me so He could pay the price for my broken life and spare me from hell and show me in God’s Word that the life I didn’t want had to go to its own cross. It had to die and be left behind. Because God had a new life for me. The new one I now live. The one I live for Him.
God took that life I didn’t want, He spared me from ending it all, and He made Himself a vessel. This vessel. This vessel of a new life. The life I don’t want for me. The life I want for Him. So disabled dogs, so homeless men, so broken people, so this lost and dying world, so people needing hope, so those who don’t know Jesus, so the downtrodden and forgotten and abused and abandoned and neglected and rejected and addicted and suicidal and clueless and wicked and anyone else in need wouldn’t fix their eyes on this vessel. They would fix their eyes on the one that took the life I didn’t want and made it into a vessel for Him. That they would fix their eyes on Him. The Creator of life. The fixer of broken lives. The maker of vessels. Vessels that honor Him.
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21)