Living in a Broken World

Santa Clarita Signal • Ethically Speaking Column • For June 25th Weekender, 2016

Living in a Broken World

David W. Hegg

No matter how good we may have it, sooner or later things break. For three weeks not long ago we trudged through life with a broken garage door opener. Yes, this is a “first world” problem but having to manually open the door each morning and evening was a real inconvenience. Even worse, I hated realizing something in my house was broken, as it mocked me day after day after day. And since it was under warranty I felt duty bound to wait for the manufacturer to deliver the needed replacement parts. For three weeks we waited, and each day I get a little more perturbed.

But that wasn’t all. During the same time some patio furniture we had ordered showed up, but all the necessary hardware was missing. Once again I entered into a long-distance relationship with a manufacturer who promised to send the packet of screws and other necessities right away. Again, my frustration level was raised each morning as both the furniture cartons and the broken garage door opener seemed to be sneering at me.

To make matters worse, we had a shower that wouldn’t shower, a drain that wouldn’t drain, and I discovered my pool had sunk over the years leaving a one-inch gap between the pool edge and the sidewalk in a few places. Arggh!

It was like having a low-grade fever for three weeks. While having several things needing repair was frustrating in itself, the greater problem was my deep-seated, seething anger that we were living in the midst of broken things that were supposed to work, and keep on working. When you hit the button the garage door is supposed to go up. Hardware is supposed to be in the carton. Plumbing is supposed to keep working. That’s how life is supposed to work!

As of this writing everything is fixed thanks to friends who know plumbing, the helpful hardware man, and a day of frustration installing a new garage door opener by myself because the parts they delivered didn’t fix the problem.

But there is a real lesson here. If we expect everything in our lives to work perfectly we are going to be frustrated too much of the time.

Here’s the deal. Things break. Everything eventually breaks. Life is a constant battle against the forces of decay, and if you add in human error it is a wonder anything works at all.

At the very center of our world there is a principle of deterioration. Just look in the mirror. Everything moves from new to old, from strong to weak, from innovative to obsolete. In a very real sense, it is the nature of things to atrophy, and yet we are surprised and even angered when it happens.

There are steps we can take, maintenance we can maintain, and updates and upgrades we can install. But we would be foolish to believe we can hold back time, erase friction, eliminate decay, or generally keep anything perpetually new.

So here’s my point. Save yourself from a lifetime of frustration by refusing to find your joy, your identity, or your purpose in anything subject to the brokenness of this world. Rather, invest yourself in those things that can actually get better over time. Relationships come to mind, with your spouse, your kids, and your friends. Love can grow stronger and deeper and surer even as our bodies, minds, and world decay.

And one more thing. The reason our world is riddled with decay can be traced to a decision two people made to disobey their Creator in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve decided to live life on their own terms, instead of trusting all God had for them was best and right, their rebellion brought death and decay into our world.

Since that day, the toxin of sin has replicated itself in myriad ways, and if we are honest, we are powerless to escape its touch. But there’s good news. God won’t let sin win. Ultimately, he is the only answer to the brokenness of our lives, and by his grace new life can be given – free of charge! - to all who turn to him in repentance and faith.  Now that’s an upgrade you can’t afford to miss.