Personal Growth
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Are You a Bruised Reed or Smoldering Candle?

The Apostle Paul reveled in the length and width and height and depth of Christ’s love—a love that embraced his highs and lows, his past and his future. That is the beauty of the Gospel—its ability to deal with all of life, from the cradle to the grave. Is it any wonder that Paul tagged it a “love that surpasses knowledge”? (Ephesians 3:18-19)

That’s a beautiful thought, but I have a hard time accepting it. Maybe you do, too. I’m growing, but I still have relapses of loading up the truck with if only’s, what ifs, and now whats—regrets. The fruit of stupid decisions. The fruit of repeated mistakes. Truckloads of regrets that I wish I could unload and then just drive away. But, that just doesn’t seem right.

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And then I was shown a description written by the prophet Isaiah over twenty-seven hundred years ago. It is a portrait of the Messiah. Seven hundred years later Matthew found that portrait, brushed it off, and gave it to the world.

He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. – Matthew 12:20

River reeds were a common toy for Judean children. I’m sure the boys made swords of them and the girls held “wands” as they imagined themselves to be princesses. But reeds are weak; they get bruised. No warrior wants to fight with a bruised reed. No princess wants to reign over her kingdom with a “floppy wand.” So they break them and toss them on the garbage pile. 

Some of us are bruised reeds. Useless. Who wants a broken reed when you can easily get a new one?

Jesus says, “I do. I don’t break bruised reeds.”

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Neither does He snuff out smoldering wicks. A Palestinian housewife lit her house with wicks made of flax in a bowl of oil. Sometimes the oil ran dry, the wick began to smolder, and the house was filled with an awful stench. So she picked up the bowl, ran to the window, and threw out the wick.

Some of us have made some awful mistakes in the past. Our friends have written us off. Sometimes, the church shuns us like we stink. The light of our testimony is barely flickering—there’s no future for us. And then we feel it. The sweet “wind of the Spirit” as Jesus blows across our stinking lives. Oh, so gently so as not to blow us out, but to cause the flame to rise again. And we realize there is a future for us—in spite of us.

Simply because His love covers it all—past, future, highs and lows. Every bit of it.

Now here is what I have to do. Maybe you, too. I have to make sure that I don’t pull away from Him. When He comes toward me, He is not coming to punish my brokenness; He is not coming to blow out my life. He is coming to put new life—His life—into me. What is my part? Just fall into His arms; He will do the rest.

That, my friend, is the beauty of the gospel. The Good News.

And it’s for me! I am going to take it—and cling to it for dear life.

This entry was posted in: Personal Growth

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I am a Carrollton native and graduate of Carrollton High and Atlanta Christian College. After 46 years, Linda, the love of my life, and I moved back to Carrollton to join the Southern Hills Christian Church team where my son Shannon is lead pastor. I have two sons, Shannon and Brandon, one daughter, Kristen Ebensberger, and 11 grandchildren.

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