Today, God used a simple broken chair to teach me a few lessons about helping others.

Addy is a mid-50’s, single, disabled lady that my wife and I have been helping off and on for the last year or so.  About a week ago, my wife came home from Addy’s and told me that she had asked her to take a broken kitchen chair home to see if I could possibly fix it. I’m not the most skilled handyman, but agreed to take a look at it. A few hours later, I found it sitting in a pile in the middle of our living room.  To say it mildly, I stood in amazement looking at this ‘chair’ that Addy wanted repaired. It was one of those olive green patterned kitchen chairs from the 1970’s! And it lay in pieces waiting to be thrown away… I mean, repaired! As I inspected the broken rivets that had held the metal legs together, I told my wife, ‘why don’t we throw this in the dumpster and just go buy her another chair. This chair is old, ugly, broken and it’s spilling its guts (the foam is coming out of the seat and back). We could probably pick one up at Goodwill for $5.’ But my wife reminded me that all of her chairs were thrashed like this one. Ugh! Alright, I’ll try and fix it.

The next day as I ‘inspected’ the chair to see what it would take to put back together, the Lord reminded me of something I had heard in church a couple weeks back – God’s heart is to care about what others care about. It then dawned on me that how this chair looked (even broken) mattered very little in comparison to the importance of what the chair meant to Addy… she had a full set and obviously liked them. I was able to fixed her chair rather easily, but learned some very important lessons in the process:

  1. Value vs. Valuable – If I were to have thrown the broken chair away and purchase a ‘replacement’, I probably would have offended her (even if I asked). Regardless of how I viewed the chair, it was still hers. Taking matters into my own hands would have displayed pride instead of humility. A proud heart is more concerned with what it thinks is important, while a humble heart is more focused on what’s important to others.  Sometimes in my eagerness to help others, I can forget the heart of the ‘others’ and what really matters to them. I may not have viewed the chair as having much value, but because it was valuable to Addy, it should be valuable to me.
  1. Cost vs. Investment – In the process of fixing her chair, I had to purchase some additional hardware and accessories in order to make it safe to sit on.  I can tell you that the amount of this purchase was probably more that the cost of an entire used replacement chair.  But, my ‘investment’ was not actually in the chair, but rather in Addy. And she is worth it.
  1. Sometimes it’s Painful – During my chair fixing adventure, I inadvertently discovered the sharp edge of a drilled metal shaving… ouch and I broke a drill bit… Grrr! Again though, I was reminded that doing the right things for the right reasons can sometimes be painful.

As I think about my ‘green chair’ lessons, I can’t help but be reminded of James 1:27 – Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. There is great joy that comes from the Father when he sees his children properly and genuinely helping those in need. After all, it is His heart to care about what others care about. I was reminded that investing into something tangible and investing into people’s lives, may on the surface look the same. However a right & humble heart will look at the investment not so much in terms of the tangible, which will eventually deteriorate and fade away, but rather the intangible – loving, supporting, encouraging and building people’s lives; which is what God is the most concerned about.

Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them.  Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them.  Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

 

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