Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


For Sale As Is

Last week I did a little “thrift store” shopping. A crock pot for work gave me the excuse, but I happen to love second-hand stores. I am constantly hopeful. A few times I’ve pawed through junk and discovered real treasures. 

Once I found an ancient Victrola completely covered with faded tablecloths and hiding in a back corner of Goodwill. The large phonograph begged to be heard, so I unburied it’s scarred and broken body. Since the sign on it said “Mint Condition,” I thought it was unfortunate that my request to hear it was instantly denied.  

To me, the Victrola was a perfect treasure-- a vintage toy, scratches, gouges, and all. But to the store manager, it was a treasure capable of breaking before it sold. Apparently, “as is” was not a phrase she wanted to add to the price tag.

The label “as is,” conveys an item with the admission of damage or brokenness. It means the clock stopped ticking, or the rocking horse has an irreparable crack in its rocker, or a crock pot is missing the internal ceramic bowl. Because most stores attempt minor restoration work before selling people’s donations, “as is” conveys a certain sense of defeat. Whatever the item, it was a lost cause—a treasure bearing some terminal, unfixable, and irredeemable flaw.

In different ways and in varying degrees throughout our lives, many of us feel something like an “as is” object. We are God’s unique treasures meandering through life until something breaks, stops, or impedes our use. With a sense of defeat, we begin to view our lives through the lens of what is broken inside us, or what with time might still break.

King David’s writing reflects that same sentiment. His failures were many; his sins notorious. But David understood that sometimes all we can give to God is our brokenness.

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)

Such words permeate cultures through all of time. Brokenness isn’t something we are comfortable admitting, let alone presenting. If we are the gift, shouldn’t we at least strive for “mint condition?” Whether in ourselves or in others, we reject the label “as is” because what it really means is, “You aren’t good enough.”

Even as Christians who look boldly at the cross of Jesus, we are often uncomfortable with the people who live broken, defeated, and weakened lives-- especially if the life we cannot perfect is our own. Yet it is precisely because of the cross that we can present our flawed selves for examination. No one understands brokenness better than a Savior who has, himself, been broken.

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows… But he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

It’s perplexing that we who are saved by one who was broken, struggle against our own brokenness and that of the world around us.

We come to God—like David-- shattered by our own mistakes, groaning from an “as is” world. Yet we are never nearer to Him than when we arrive with nothing in our hands. God’s desire is that we would come to Him—weary and overwhelmed, infirm and burdened, defeated by life and crushed by injustice.

He waits for us to arrive “as is.”

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:3)