Over the past few years, my brother started a Holiday Tradition in our family. See, my parents have 22 grandchildren ranging in age between 25 and 5. During big get-togethers, there is a lot of food, a lot of craziness, a lot of fun…and more food. The kids, though, if not entertained, will find something to do to entertain themselves and that can ruin a good party any day.
Well, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the game of gifts called “rob your neighbor” but it is a game in which there is a pile of gifts and everyone gets to choose one and the next in line has a choice to either take the gift that was recently opened (it’s wrapped mystery revealed) or choose a gift from the pile that is still a secret treasure, so, all wrapped up, it’s still a mystery—could be better, could be worse.
Well, my brother likes to go to my parents’ house a few weeks before our family gets together for Christmas and gather a few items they will not notice that are of no value to anyone else but those of us who know my parents: trinkets and junk they’ve collected over the years from garage sales and such that have played a significant (and oftentimes funny) role in our family’s history.
This past year, was a menagerie of crazy gifts, from an old Viewmaster, to some Barbies circa the 1980s, to some banged-up hot-wheels from the movie Cars. If you have ever seen the movie Toy Story, though, you are familiar with the character Woody. This doll my parents had was loved by many and for many years. He was so loved, in fact, that he was missing an entire arm, had bite marks on the brim of his cowboy hat, and had a below-the-knee amputation that my mother had sewn in an attempt to keep him in the toy circulation. He was a mess, I tell you.
This mess, this doll that was literally half a doll had been thrown around, had been chewed on, had been given a voice at times by amateur ventriloquist children, had been forgotten under couches, had been stolen by nameless grandkids and then returned to its loving home for all to enjoy. Woody had been through a lot and he was, needless to say, pretty rough for the wear.
After eating and carrying on adult conversations around the kitchen, I snuck up to the room where the raucous was coming from and all 22 grandkids were deeply invested in this cut-throat game of Rob Your Neighbor. Duplo Lego bricks were flying, there was a play cash register with a hodge podge of Monopoly money included, there were Barbies half-dressed with hair more matted than Tina Turner’s…but the hottest commodity was, you guessed it: Woody. Banged-up and beaten, forgotten and remembered Woody.
There was howling of laughter all around. Bottom lips so protruded you could park a car on them by the one’s who lost him. Victorious fists in the air by those lucky enough to have stolen him away.
In the midst of remembering this story, I have a revelation to share with you: In God’s eyes, we are this Woody. We are the prize He fights for. We are the reason He would throw a victorious fist in the air. We are the banged-up, the broken, the sewn back together, treasure that He pines for and wants as His own. It doesn’t matter if we feel like Woody looks…half a person, unable to bring joy to anyone anymore. That’s just not who we are to Him. We are valuable beyond measure and He wants to take us in His hands so badly that He sent Jesus to gain us heaven so that we could be with Him forever! And while we’re here on earth, He has a purpose for us…we are of special use to Him. He uses us to reflect His love to others no matter how banged-up our story might be!
With your eyes closed for a moment. See if you can remember something that you treasured…maybe as a child or something from your life that, if you stumbled upon it, you would be overjoyed to have it back in your possession. Think about its particular value to you no matter what it looks like, where you finally found it, how long you pined after it or wished you had it again. Take a moment to recognize your own value to the Father. As you move in this class, imagine that you are of immeasurable value to Him no matter what you may feel you can give, what you look like, what yoga stunts you can or cannot perform. Imagine your deep and inherent value and move with that knowledge in mind.
Our God treasures and uses broken things. Look at His beloved disciples…they weren’t great or powerful men. They were a tax collector, fishermen, a foreigner, a political zealot, some with stormy personalities, a skeptic, a doubter.
He didn’t just seek those who were able, or pretty, or the picture of perfection. He sought the willing. He sought the imperfect…those who, like the beloved Christmas gift of my family’s Toy Story Woody, were a bit worse for the wear. But He used these people. He used them and trusted them with a message He continues to trust us with today….if we are willing.
We can be battered and broken…but our value is a shining beacon for Him when we are willing.