Are you broken? Is that cause for laughter or sorrow? How does that connect to a parable? We understand a parable to be an earthly story with a spiritual meaning. Bringing those things together, I would say:
- We are all broken – but a few of us will admit it!
- Being broken is a reason to be happy.
- I saw this sermon when I sat down in front of it!
The Parable in the Picture
Several weeks ago, I attended worship with my friends in Barahona, Dominican Republic. It wasn’t long before I saw this ‘composite’ item in front of me. There was an object lesson I just couldn’t escape. It was truly the sermon I saw, not the one I heard. I intended to take a picture and write this post that week. The picture never got taken. But I have been back in Barahona and now you can see what I saw on that previous visit. But do you see the lesson in the picture?
Seeing this modern day parable obviously made an impression on me. It shaped some of my later blog posts (another example here). It took me a few seconds to realize I was seeing a puzzle of sorts. And my mind just can’t let go of a puzzle, a riddle, or an enigma (Yes, I do crosswords, Sudoku and other brain-twisting exercises!). My friends were using a projector stand for worship. But its components were intended for very different uses.
The bottom half of the ‘projector stand’ is the base of an office chair. The top portion is part of a table, another stand, or a lectern. I don’t really know and it doesn’t really matter. The remains of two broken things were combined to form a useful thing. And that’s the parable in the picture. It’s a picture of earthly stuff, but it holds a great spiritual meaning – if we take the time to see it.
Applying the Parable
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are like the ‘projector stand’ my resourceful friends made. When you and I came to Christ, we were broken. How do I know? We were not what He intended us to be at Creation. So by definition, that makes us broken. That presents a problem and an opportunity.
The problem is in admitting I am broken. The person who refuses to admit their condition thinks they are fine just like they are. That would be what Scripture calls trying to save one’s own life. Notice:
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
The opportunity we have is to admit our condition. We give our broken life to Jesus and He can make something wonderful from the mess we give Him. What would we have heard if the parts of that ‘projector stand’ could talk?
The chair came to Jesus and said, Lord, I am broken. I have nothing useful to give You, but I give You all that I am. Use me however You will.
The little table could well have had trouble. Like us, it could have compared itself to others. Maybe it aspired to be like the beautiful wooden lectern in the church. They are used in close proximity to one another. Ultimately, the little table stand also gave up its broken existence and hopeless ambitions.
Who Would Have Thought?
It seems a parable almost always has an element of surprise. I would not have thought to top a broken chair with a broken table. But God does it every day! Peter calls believers living stones. And the Master Builder is building a wall with us by placing us in just the right spot. That means we are next to the other broken people in combinations that amaze the world around us.
And that’s why I said there’s an opportunity in being broken. Once we admit it, we can lose our lives for Him. And He will make more from our lives than we could ever have imagined.
Soli Deo Gloria!
This slightly updated post was originally published in May of 2016. I’ve seen this projector stand several times since I penned the original post. And I think of this ‘parable’ every time I see it.