Broken Toys

brokentoys

That is why you are so great, Lord God! No one can compare to you, no god except you, just as we have always heard with our own ears” (1 Samuel 7:22, Common English Bible).

Sometime back I was reading from A Year with C.S. Lewis. That same day, when I went on BibleGateway.com to see the verse of the day, the verse above, I was intrigued with the way God often works things out together. I hear the same thing at times on Sunday morning when members say how well my sermon went with their Sunday school lesson. Trust me on this, The Sunday school teachers and I, unless we have a special church-wide study going on, NEVER consult each other about lessons or sermons. It is a God thing, not a pastor/Sunday school teacher thing. Anyway, I digress.

When I was reading the C.S. Lewis book he is talking about our trials and tribulations. My eye was drawn to these words, “At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my one true good is in another world and my only real treasure is in Christ. And perhaps, by God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources. But then, when the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys: I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat because it is now associated with the misery of those few days. ” (Lewis, p. 315).

Lewis was writing about himself. That much is obvious when we read the personal pronouns he used in the reading. But, as I was reading this, the thought occurred to me, “Is C.S. Lewis speaking of me?” He wasn’t of course. Lewis died when I was five years old and I feel safe in the assumption we never met. But Lewis was an outstanding writer who could communicate his message across generations, genders, societies and more, doing so while pointing to himself, yet at the same time, allowing anyone who read his words to feel Lewis was talking about him or her. What Lewis is saying here is a truth about the human condition. We all want to be happy and we so often place our happiness in the things we have. We build that happiness up to the point that when we lose the item, be it lost, stolen, broken, etc., we lose our happiness. We are all too often only happy in our stuff.

In his words, Lewis is alluding to an idea that so many of us do have, we turn our stuff into our gods. Our toys are our gods. These things serve us for a time, then we lose them for any variety of reasons. For some, we manage to turn away from our stuff for a period of time, but we also have a tendency to hear our stuff calling us back once we are past the shock of our loss and once again we turn back to it.

For some others, the only way we believe to be happy at all is to replace that god with still other gods. We go out and get more stuff and turn that stuff into our gods. Then, once the new wears off, we find the need to re-feed that happiness and the only way we can seem to do that is to go out and get even more new stuff and turn that stuff into our gods. It becomes a never ending cycle.

David has the right idea in the verse from 2 Samuel. There is no god except the one true God. Only God can make us truly happy. Only God can make us truly fulfilled. When we attempt to fill our lives and our hearts with stuff, we will never find real satisfaction. Ask any kid, the toys in our lives will break. Cars break down, clothes wear out, etc. etc. etc. The luster our stuff had when we first got it loses its shine and if we find our happiness in them, we will lose our happiness as well.

But, when we seek to find our happiness in God, we will find real and true fulfillment. Our hearts will be satisfied. The new will never wear off from what God does in our hearts and lives.

That doesn’t mean bad things will not happen in our lives. Those things will still happen. Difficulties come our way. But when we find our happiness in God, even in difficulty we can still have lives that are filled with joy and hope and peace. What more could we ask for. As David says, “No other god can compare with you.”

Let’s not wait for our toys to break. Let’s be that kid who seems to destroy all his/her toys. I am not speaking of literal destruction but placing the stuff in our lives in the right place and putting our priorities where they should be. May all our stuff be broken toys but useful tools to aid us through our work in life, work we are all called to do in some way, living for and serving Almighty God!

Have a great day in the Lord!

Grace and Peace,

Keith

Source: Lewis, C.S. A Year with C.S. Lewis, San Francisco: Harper-Collins, 2003. p. 315).

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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