Apparently, I break bowls. And other things that are, I guess, breakable. I’m not entirely sure when this breaking of the things began. Maybe it started all the way back about nine when I threw a football through my uncle’s glass window. From inside the living room. It seemed like a good idea at the time to play football inside their house. My angered parents and relatives helped me understand extremely quickly that it was in fact actually a very bad idea. Or perhaps it began with the glass, apple-shaped candy dish that didn’t survive the horsing around at age eleven. Come to think of it, the raised baseball bat taking out the glass light fixture in my room at twelve could have been the starting point.
Anyways. The breakage all started (again) when out of the goodness of my heart, I was putting away a glass bowl with leftovers into the refrigerator. Instead of cooperating appropriately as I carried it to the shelf, that cold, shiny enemy decided to slip out of my hand and land with a loud shatter on the kitchen floor. Out with the leftovers and out with the bowl.
We all know glass breaks. So sometimes, it’s bound to happen. But for me, bowl one turned out to be only the beginning. That first bowl started a domino effect of breakage that has carried us through an entire bowl set and into another. In the course of the next few weeks, it seemed every other day a bowl would jump from my hands to quickly scatter in pieces all over the floor. Big serving dishes. Blue decorative salad bowls. Smallish ones. White cereal bowls. It didn’t matter.
But it wasn’t just bowls. My breaking ways carried us right into the Christmas season when I inadvertently took down an entire ceramic nativity set. The decorative display of wise men, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, animals and of course baby Jesus sat in peaceful serenity on our back shelf until I happened. Hovering above, a display case of tea cups looked down. This shelf had atop old, heavy medicine bottles for decoration. As I closed our back door one evening, these bottles, at the shake of the door closing, became glass missiles aimed at the nativity set below. Little survived.
You’d think I would learn my lesson and deal only with plastic. You’d think I would leave all the glass work to my wife. Not hardly. Stubborn me kept plowing through. And I was sensing a respite. It had been quiet for a few weeks. Too quiet.
As I put one of our new glass bowls into the refrigerator, it fell. This time though, it didn’t break. I picked it up, escaping the inevitable only for a brief moment. I placed it back on the shelf, and when I took my hand away, it followed me right back out and onto the floor with a crack.
My wife and son? Laughing uncontrollably in the living room at my latest broken bowl.
Me? I’m done. Glass is no more. I revoke my privileges from here on out to deal with any glass. Of any kind. At any time. That is, until my manly pride leads me back to prove victory over these fragile enemies of my sanity.
At least the bowls aren’t too valuable. Like the light globe, candy bowl, or window of my childhood days, glass can be replaced. Some other stuff doesn’t replace nearly as easily. Break a bowl? Clean it up with a broom and dustpan. Break your child’s heart with a forgotten promise? That wound may take months or even years to heal. Destroy a window? A repairman, replacement window, and some extra cash fixes it quickly. Break trust with your wife? You may never recover all the scattered pieces. Shatter a nativity set? See the broom and dustpan again. Shatter your relationship with God’s people with missiles of bitterness, hatred, or dishonesty? You may never put back together those invaluable confidences.
When we break the trust of people, we have only one place to turn. Jesus. For mercy. In the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector, Jesus teaches us that God will forgive the thieving, destructive path of tax collectors and other such trust breakers, if they will honestly and decidedly plead for mercy.
13 “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
How? He owned his breakage. He confessed it. He pleaded mercy from the only one who could fix it. Interestingly enough, one chapter over in Luke’s gospel, Jesus introduces us to another tax collector much like the one from the parable (see Luke 19:1-10). Zacchaeus, the thieving defrauder and breaker of trust confessed his destructiveness, and by the power of Jesus’ life-changing salvation, promised to make right his wrongs.
8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Don’t be like me. Avoid the bowls!
Don’t be like Zacchaeus. Guard the trust of others. But if you do find yourself breaking others’ trust in you, find Jesus. He forgives (and fixes) trust breakers. And thankfully, bowl breakers too.