I felt quiet and sad. I was nine, and my only close friend was moving far away. Because I moved so much as a child, it was hard to make close friends. And by “moved” I mean different hemisphere moves, not different states or cities.
It didn’t help that I was shy, awkward, and mostly lonely. So I was almost pathetically grateful anytime another kid was friendly to me and showed kindness.
This friend had been especially sweet, and I wanted to give her a goodbye present to show her how much I cared about her – one that she could keep to remember me by.
Asking my dad to purchase a gift was out of the question: money was always tight and he would inevitably say the same thing he always did: “Make something yourself!”
I found the idea in a book of creating a little bird in a nest, using a blown egg and a little piece of egg carton. I painstakingly went through each step by myself, poking a tiny hole in the top and bottom of the egg and blowing it out of the shell, then letting it dry. I painted the eggshell a lovely aqua blue, glued on a little paper beak and two soft black paper eyes, and made a little “nest” with a painted brown cup of an egg carton, carefully gluing the egg-chick in place.
I was utterly delighted with my special gift, and very proud of my handiwork – especially since I had done it all by myself. I excitedly envisioned my friend’s joy in receiving her present.
The last day I would see my friend was on Sunday at church. That morning my dad, siblings, and I all rushed out to the car to drive to church, running a few minutes late. I had grabbed the little chick and the card I had made and placed them carefully inside the car next to my seat. Then, as I got in, I unthinkingly put my hand down to fasten the seat belt – and smashed the chick.
I was too stunned to cry and too grief-stricken to speak.
There was no point in crying. There was nothing to say.
We were already late for church, my friend was moving away the very next day, and there was no time to create anything new for her. All my hard work and loving effort were gone, and I had nothing tangible to show for it except crushed fragments of a lovely aqua blue. And it was my fault.
I have felt like that little nine-year-old often throughout my life. (Have you?)
I have an idea or a hope of how something I do will turn out, especially since as a believer I know that what I carry out each day is supposed to be to the glory of God.
But then, often inadvertently, I feel like I clumsily end up ruining it somehow. The gift that I had wanted to give to God of my day or my effort ends up so much less than I had hoped: a broken, shattered version of what I had envisioned. Things sometimes just end up sort of smashed and irreversibly damaged.
This is where it takes sheer stubbornness to hold on to what I know is true: God sees my heart, and He knows my intentions and yearnings. Even in the brokenness, He sees the love that I hold in my heart for Him when I offer what I have as worship to Him. And therefore what I do has value and meaning to Him when I work out of a desire to honor Him with it.
What you do, how you faithfully keep going with your work, and how you live your days – it matters.
When we deliberately choose to see our lives as something we offer up to God, even in its broken imperfection, He takes our love-gift and gauges it with a metric of grace.
As one of my favorite song lyrics say,
“So take my broken offering and make it whole/ And set my feet upon the road that leads me home/ Let me walk as one fixed upon the goal / Even though I’ve got a thousand miles to go.”
(Caedmon’s Call, “Thousand Miles”, Back Home, Essential Records. 2003)
Even in those moments when all we think we hold is a crushed little egg-chick, He sees the time, care, intent, and love that we truly offer.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
Galatians 6:9, NLT
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on East Willow Place