If you want to talk about people who have been empowered by God, I know plenty of them.
If you want to talk about people who are broken, I know plenty of those too.
And if you want to talk about people who are beautiful, I'd say that's every one of us because each of us holds our own unique beauty as the manifestations of God's creative and loving presence that we are.
It looks like I've just laid out at least two separate categories: broken, and empowered.
One of the first things any pastor who is even moderately attentive to the people in her or his care comes to discover is just how broken most people are. Broken by addiction, depression, loss, fear...
There are also a handful of people in most social circles who are clearly empowered so much so that you'd have to be blind not to see it; I'm talking about people who are so confident in who God made them to be that it seems nothing is impossible for them.
Now I want to tell you that the separation between broken and empowered is nothing but an illusion.
It is an illusion that I used to believe; that is, before I became a
pastor 5 1/2 years ago. I entered my vocation as pastor with plenty of big visions that God had placed upon me; visions so big that I knew I couldn't do it alone.
Very quickly I came to an awareness that all of the people in the community who had opened up to me were broken in some way. I started to wonder, where are the people who are whole? Where are the people who are empowered by God and ready to invest themselves in love and service? It's amazing how thick headed I can be. I eventually came to discover that these broken people were the same people God had empowered. I was one of them too.
It was not too long ago that a friend named Troy reminded me that when we look at the story of Jesus in the Gospel according to John; when you get to the part about his resurrection from the dead in chapter 20; when Jesus is supposedly totally whole and complete, he still carries on his body the scars of his suffering as he instructs his disciple Thomas to examine his wounds and to believe that it really is him.
Somehow the scars of Jesus' suffering are made to be part of his wholeness, his beauty, and his empowerment by God.
While I write this I am thanking God for so many individuals I get to work with, pray with, and do life with who are broken yet empowered by God at the same time; people who so generously give of themselves day in and day out in love and service to others, but also people who live with the wounds and scars of anxiety, depression, loss, addiction, abuse, and fear.
Somehow their scars and deep seeded wounds have become a significant element in their story of empowerment. I do not believe that God caused their suffering; but here is truth, that God is able to work through even our most deep seeded fears, brokenness, suffering, and pain to bring about healing and something good.
Let us once more commit to living the best life possible not because the struggles, hardships and pain have dissipated but because the Spirit of God living in us has empowered us to live lives that are rooted in relationship with God and given in love and service to others.
There are so many beautiful people out there who are broken yet empowered, scarred and wounded yet whole and complete in the power of God's love.
Are you one of them? If so, we are in good company.