By Emily Sealy
In 2013, my husband, kids, and I had just moved across the country to a new town and were settling in to our rental home. A few months after moving, we had a major rainstorm with very strong winds. So strong, that the next day, one of the already sickly trees in the front yard had cracked and part of it had fallen down. The fallen part was laying on the edge of the roof of our house, right above the front door. The next big gust of wind would have brought it crashing to the ground. We texted the landlord and sent them pictures asking what they wanted us to do. The answer? “I don’t have any money, so just leave it.”
My husband got written permission from the landlord to not hold us liable for any possible damages to the house, then proceeded to take care of it. A few men from our church came with ropes and chainsaws. In no time they had the whole tree cut up into manageable pieces and had cleaned up the mess. The danger was gone and the tree sent off to someone’s farm to be used as firewood.
Later the next week, we were given a gift by one of the men who helped with the tree removal. It was a bowl. But not just any bowl. It was a beautiful wooden bowl – made from part of the tree that was taken down from our house. He loved to work with wood, so he, without telling us, had taken a part of the trunk home and turned it into a gorgeous polished bowl that we now had sitting on our kitchen counter.
And wouldn’t you know the Lord used that bowl to teach me a lesson?
Sometimes we have “windstorm-like” circumstances come into our lives. Those circumstances can be upsetting, frustrating, or just plain unfair. They can make absolutely no sense to us. They can be painful and even be devastating. But in all that – in all the trial and turmoil, the tears, fears, and frustrations – God can take that “bad” thing, that broken thing, and turn it into something beautiful and useful.
Just like my bowl.
The bowl started as a dying old tree that wasn’t much use for anything besides firewood and maybe a little shade. It was too weak for a swing or climbing. In all honesty it was somewhat ugly and very sickly looking. But now – after it had been through a really rough storm – after it had been broken, trimmed and cut, it was the perfect size and shape to turn into a beautiful bowl that was useful. I’m sure if trees had feeling, it would have been a very painful process - being hit by the wind, cracking, breaking, then cut apart and hauled away. It would not have been a pleasant time for the tree.
Those times in our lives when we go through storms - they are a painful process.
It hurts as we experience our lives being pushed by the winds, cracked, broken and cut apart. During and after the storm ends, may feel like it has broken us beyond repair, no longer useful for anything. We may not be able to look past all the pain we have experienced to see that beautiful things can and are being made from us.
We have multiple examples of people being “broken” in the Bible. Esther who was taken from her home and her people and Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers are just two of those examples. But God took their storms, their brokenness and turned it into beautiful outcomes. Esther was able to save her people - the Jewish people. Joseph became one of the highest ranking officers in the land, being used to save his family and many others in time of famine. They remained faithful to God, even through their trials, and God used them in amazing ways.
Could it be possible that it is at the point of your brokenness after a storm that God says, “Yes, now you are exactly to the point where I can mold and shape you into a beautiful useful vessel, to be used in my perfect plan for you.” Is it possible that those things in our lives that we feel may be “broken” might just be the area that Christ will use to show His power and grace.
It may be because of that breaking that He will have us ready for His beautiful purpose.
It was a frustrating situation - having to deal with a fallen tree that came down in the storm. But God used it to show me that nothing is too broken or damaged for Him to not be able to turn into something useful and beautiful. In fact, it seems to me that more often the most beautiful things come from the most broken situations.