Note: I’ve made a discovery since the last (so I thought) blog post. Joe Price may have left a limited number of sermons in that black leather notebook, but he left many more lessons written on my heart. Even now, as evidenced in this entry, Joe finds a way to bring me comfort and understanding through simple things I stumble across every now and then, like his old clothes and a worn out watch. It looks a little bit different, but there’s a lesson here. Joe and Jesus touched my heart this week. I hope they touch yours, too. ❤️
Noun: A Person, Place or Thing
October 19, 2021
Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.“
This week, Joe and Jesus teamed up to lay a grammar lesson on my English teaching, part of speech loving heart. It centers around nouns. Remember learning about them? I’ll give you a couple of examples.
A Person: Joe
A Place: Joe’s home
A Thing(actually two things):Joe’s sweater and Joe’s watch.
Let’s begin with Joe’s sweater. This past Sunday night, I helped my youngest son, Cameron, pick out several outfits for his senior portrait session. As we put shirts and pants together, he mentioned wearing a sweater that belonged to Joe, and I immediately knew which one was the perfect choice. However, when I went to the stack of sweaters in the closet, the one I wanted was not there. This led me on a frenzied search through the house. I looked in drawers, closets, bags, etc. but the sweater was nowhere to be found. I rummaged through the house for the better part of an hour!
Finally, Cameron said, “ Mom, which sweater are you trying to find?”
I replied, “The GREEN one, son!”
And that’s when it hit me.
There’s a very good reason why I could not locate that particular sweater.
Y’all, it is because Joe is still wearing it.
I went on a scavenger hunt for the very sweater in which Joe is BURIED. 😂
Cam got so tickled when I told him why he couldn’t wear that particular sweater, which then got ME tickled, and I laughed so hard that the tears rolled down my face and I nearly peed in my pants.
And THAT, folks, is just how crazy I am. Bless my own dang heart. Bless Joe’s heart, too. He had a lot to put up with being married to me. 🤷♀️
Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Our house has endured Covid for almost a month now. First my oldest son, Caegan, and then Cameron, and finally me. While I am so very thankful to say that we are all mostly healed and back to normal, I will tell you that I was not prepared for the length of time in which I simply felt so bad. My fever dissipated within a few days, but I was nowhere near well for many more. I was worried about my children (and trying to care for Cameron while I kept myself isolated), couldn’t taste, couldn’t smell, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t walk more than about ten steps before I was worn completely out, and was also trying to keep lessons posted daily for my students. It was near the end of the second week when I had myself a full blown come apart.
In the late afternoon, I loaded my bawling, squalling self up in the truck and headed for the cemetery. Yes, I know I should have stayed my behind at home, but I was just a teensy bit irrational by that point. I promise you I wore my mask (even though I was quite literally the only living, breathing soul at that cemetery), and I sanitized Joe’s stone before I left (it needed to be wiped…pretty sure I left tears and possibly little snot on it…but I digress). I am not sure if I was talking to Joe or to Jesus or to both of them, but I do know I cried, shook my fist, talked a little bit ugly, apologized for it, and in the end I laid my cheek against the cool granite of the stone and closed my eyes. The only thing I remember saying at that point was, “I am just so tired of being broken.”
And I am, sweet friends. I am just so tired of being broken.
I am not sure how long I laid there, but by the time I got myself gathered up and back on the path, it was nearly dark. I thought that perhaps I had gotten it all out of my system. I thought perhaps God would see fit to bring things into better perspective for me. I thought surely I would feel better. And I would…but there was yet another come apart between feeling broken and feeling better.
I went back to work the following week, and pretty much fell in a pile as soon as I got home every evening. It was at the end of that week that Joe’s old watch quit working. This watch is neither new nor expensive, but something about knowing it is still ticking just brings me comfort. Thankfully, it simply needed a new battery. However, once the battery was replaced, the back of the watch would not snap back into place. My brother worked on it for hours to no avail. My mama took it to a jeweler who also worked on it for a long while. She said she had NEVER had this happen to a watch. I sure did hate to be the one. But, in the end, the watch was broken. The battery worked, the watch was ticking, but nevertheless, with the entire back piece unattached, it seemed pretty useless to me.
And, so, I had my second come apart over an old, broken, still ticking, watch.
The next morning, still feeling a little bit sorry for myself, I opened a devotional book I hadn’t read in a while. The following words jumped out at me in all caps:
GOD USES BROKEN THINGS.
I continued to read about the many examples in the Bible of brokenness used for the glory of the Lord. Jacob’s physical strength was broken before God would clothe him with spiritual power. Moses “broke” a rock to produce drinking water. Esther broke the laws of the king to rescue her people. Jesus took five loaves of bread and broke them to feed five thousand. In this devotion, Streams in the Dessert, LB Cowman wrote, “through the very process of the loaves being broken, the miracle occurred.” Mary broke her alabaster jar, full of expensive perfume, and it was then that the fragrance filled the home. Even the sweet , precious body of Jesus was physically broken so that you and I might live forever.
“It is not until a beautiful kernel of corn is buried and broken in the earth by DEATH that its inner heart sprouts, producing hundreds of other seeds or kernels. And so it has always been, down through the history of plants, people and all of spiritual life–GOD USES BROKEN THINGS.”
Does that speak to your heart like it speaks to mine?
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
I spent a lot of time looking for a sweater I was never going to find. That sweater is just one thing in a long list of nouns that I have sought out in the name of happiness at some point in my life or another, trying to fill those empty spaces in my heart.
I think sometimes we see this verse as a formula to obtain all the nouns we believe will bring us joy. We have it backwards. We miss the point. It’s not a formula for wish granting. It is the promise of God’s presence. Every single noun on this earth is temporary. Possessions break. People die. We love them and we lose them. But we cannot and we will not lose God’s love for us.
Sometimes, it is difficult to see that while we are so caught up in looking around, when we place our hope and our trust in the gifts rather than the Giver.
God loves us, even when we get caught up in earthly treasures. God loves us when we forget that things are not the delight…HE is the delight. God loves us when, as those things slip away, we become broken.
And then God does something that only God can do–something that only God loves us enough to do–He uses the broken things.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
I know Jesus heard me when I cried out that I am so tired of being broken. Initially, Joe’s watch breaking seemed to be a little bit like rubbing salt in a wound. But that’s not how my Jesus works. Ironically, it’s not how Joe worked, either. That man loved a broken gadget. He’d spend more money on a fixer upper than he would have spent on something brand spanking new. He saw the value that many did not. My Joe and my Jesus…my Joe and my Jesus.
Speaking of my Jesus…well, I believe he might be an English teacher. He does love a good lesson. He specializes in nouns.
So, he used a person–my sweet, sweet Joe.
And then he used a thing: a broken watch, that even though half of it had been pulled away and could not be reattached, somehow kept on ticking….
To remind me of a place: Home. Not the home I spent an hour rummaging through looking for a sweater. Not the home that still seems so empty without Joe in it. But the Home that awaits every one of us, where there are no more sorrows, no pain, no sickness, no broken hearts (or watches).
GOD USES BROKEN THINGS.
Sweet friend…are you broken like me? Are you just so tired of being tired? Have you cried and fussed and apologized and maybe ended up falling in a pile and having yourself a complete come apart? Precious one, you go right ahead and have it. But then, I need you to do this:
Wipe away your tears and snot (sanitize as you see fit), and KNOW…Trust and believe with all of your heart that it is in the very act of being broken that the miracle occurs. Put your hand to your heart. Feel it? Still ticking…even if it’s broken. Even if half of it is missing…YOUR WATCH IS STILL TICKING.
And that means there is still time on the clock and there is work left to do. Let God use you. It will be in your brokenness, in your weakness, that others find strength. The very thing that brought you to your knees will be the reflection through which others see a person: Jesus. It will be through the cracked places that the Light shines in…and that Light will lead them, lead you and lead me to the very same place–Home.
Joseph Morgan Price had better be standing there waiting for me, and he had BETTER be wearing that green sweater!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
There’s no place like Home, sweet friend.
There’s no place like Home. ❤️
-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe