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Broken Pieces Made Beautiful

by | Jan 2, 2012

A molten ball of liquid glass on the end of the iron pipe glowed brilliant yellow-orange.  The instructor skillfully rolled the pipe along a wooden railing as one of the assistants began to blow through the opposite end of the pipe, forming a small bubble.  As the bubble grew larger, it was carefully shaped using a wooden mold and thick heat-resistant pads. Every few minutes the glass had to be re-heated in the “glory hole,” the 2000 degree Fahrenheit furnace, so that it wouldn’t crack as it cooled.

Broken Pieces…

Sitting on the edge of my seat in the observation area, I was enthralled with the intricate process of glass-blowing. The process of manipulating liquid glass into beautiful works of art. The shimmering bubble grew bigger and bigger, until, stretched too thin, the glass suddenly shattered.  There was a collective gasp from the audience as we stared at the once-beautiful object, now a pile of broken shards.  But the instructor just smiled.

“We recycle everything in our glass-blowing lab,” she explained, picking up a paper-thin fragment from the cement floor.  “Nothing is wasted.  These pieces will be melted down in the furnace so they can be used over and over again.”

…Made Beautiful

The glass-blowers then started again, patiently dipping, heating, rolling, shaping, blowing, squeezing and re-heating the liquid glass.  Finally the finished product emerged – a glistening Christmas wreath, complete with delicately-shaped flowers, leaves, and a big bow.

As one year has ended and a new year is beginning, I’ve been thinking a lot about those shattered fragments on the floor of the glass-blowing lab.  There are areas of my life that seem to be broken pieces, destined for the trash.  Things I hoped for in this past year that didn’t come to pass.  Relationships that have drifted apart or aren’t what I wish them to be.  Plans that failed.  Great ideas that came to nothing.

It doesn’t seem fair.  It doesn’t seem right.  And I find myself raging at God sometimes, wondering why He allowed these things.  The verses in Romans 9:20-21 seem to be speaking straight to me today.  “But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God?  Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” (NRSV).

 When all I can see are the broken pieces, I can trust that the Master has a purpose in it all.  He gently picks up the jagged fragments and puts them all in the “glory hole” – the blazing furnace – until it comes out as shimmering, golden molten glass, ready to be re-shaped and molded according to His ultimate design.  He makes “all things beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV).

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