Broken Houses, Broken Arms, and Broken Toys

Our Zayd prays more and more often at meal times now. After listening to Elise and I pray for nearly four years, he’s begun his own dialogue with God, his own expressions of faith. We find this so beautiful. And as we listen to him talk with God about the things deep in his heart, things that so often have nothing to do with what he’s heard Mommy or Daddy pray, his words are little soul-mirrors that show us what four years of global living have birthed in him. We’ve learned this about Zayd through his prayers: he sees, really sees – people and things that are broken. And he prays continually for:

People with broken houses. His global missional travels have offered him sights of countless homes ranging from under construction to devastation by the toxic effect of extreme poverty.

People with broken arms. Zayd once saw a man with just one arm in Raxaul, India. The absence of the typical other is an image that arrested his thoughts and remains with him even now. He was deeply bothered.

Children with broken toys. Of all miracles that belong to the little years, perhaps it’s the unalloyed compassion for those without that’s the most riveting. Wherever Zayd goes, he sees children who have few or no toys. This concerns him deeply, even hurts him.

So Zayd’s short and sincere prayers revolve most around asking God’s help for those with broken houses, broken arms and broken toys. His prayers are selfless. But as I’ve listened to the heart behind his words, I’m reminded that while we’re right to offer grateful prayers for how God provides for us, and it’s important to intercede for the poor and marginalized, there’s something else we’re made to inhabit. We’re made by God to be instruments of justice and dispensers of compassion for the least of these on our planet. We’re made to be like Jesus, who went about doing good.

When someone asked Martin Luther what he’d do if Jesus was returning tomorrow, he replied, “I would plant a tree.” It seems to me what Luther was saying is that there’s work to be done with a future hope and beauty in mind. He had a long term perspective and so should we. Waiting for the return of Christ should mean more than believing in a heaven where all things broken will be made whole. For the renown of God, it should compel us to notice the broken houses and arms and toys – and do something about them. We’re made for the shape of being peacekeepers and hope-givers and soul-lovers. We’re made by God to look at the brokenness of this world and then enter into the mystery and the pain of it holding high the good name of Jesus as we make it our business to help heal what’s been shattered and torn and in need of a Savior’s restoration. May He invade our minds, transform our hearts, and guide our feet.

Stay Led! Joel Vestal

October 2, 2006

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