George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Broken Things of Life
Some on broken pieces of the ship...escaped...safely to land--Act 27:44
Among the broken things of life one would think first of broken time. Time, says Benjamin Franklin, is the stuff of life: it is a stuff which is very easily tattered. When a man is eagerly plying his own work, interruptions are intensely irritating. Sometimes they are inevitable; at other times they spring from thoughtlessness. And one of the lessons everyone must learn who wants to achieve anything in life is how to hold to things through recurring interruption. That is how the worker comes ashore. That is how most of the world's work is done; not by men of an unbroken leisure--is very rarely fruitful. It is done by men who have to seize their hours, rescue and redeem their opportunities, gather up the fragments that remain. I think of Shakespeare with all a player's worries; of Milton burdened with the cares of State; of Spurgeon founding colleges and orphanages yet preaching those magnificent discourses. They seized their hours, rescued their opportunities, toiled on in the teeth of interruptions, and on broken pieces of the ship they came ashore.
Again, the words have comforting suggestion for those who are suffering from broken health. Doubtless there are some of my readers in that category. Once they were strong, vigorous, and tireless; now they are very easily tired. Once it was a great, glad thing to live; now it is rather a burden to be borne. There is so much that they would gladly do if only they had the strength to do it. It is so very bitter to feel useless. My dear friends, health is a priceless blessing. Rubies and diamonds are nothing to it. Without it, castles and carriages are vanity; with it, the tiniest cottage is a kingdom. But never forget that with a little courage and trust in God and patient, quiet endurance, you may get ashore on broken pieces of the ship. Think of Calvin with his sickly body; of Pascal, all his life an invalid; of Richard Baxter tortured by disease; of Mrs. Browning on her couch. Think of the great Apostle to the Gentiles with his ophthalmia and his malaria. They never knew what perfect health was; they did not sail in any golden galleon; they did not waken in the morning singing, feeling as if they were capable of anything. But they did their work, wrote immortal literature, altered Europe, changed the course of history, clinging to the broken pieces of the ship. I knew an invalid in quite a humble home who used to lament to me that she was useless. Her brothers and sisters were in splendid health; she was only a burden to them all. And yet no wages that the sisters earned brought such an enriching to that home as the presence of her who thought that she was useless. Her gentleness was like the rain from heaven--her patience a rebuke--her happy smile for everybody was gladdening as the sunshine in November. She earned no wages, wrote no poems, never made a dress nor cooked a dinner--and yet on broken pieces of the ship she came ashore.
Now I want to go a little deeper, from a shattered body to a shattered faith. There are many in the world today whose early faith is very sorely broken. Trained in Christian homes, there was a time when they accepted things. They prayed; they read their Bibles; they attended Sunday school; they went to church. And now the years have gone, and everything is different, and the old, sweet assurance has departed, and clouds and darkness are around the Throne. Once their faith was like a gallant vessel with the sails set and the flags flying. They thought, once, that they would reach the harbor so--and now that gallant vessel is a wreck. And I want to tell them, quietly and earnestly, for I fervently believe that it is true, that on broken pieces of the ship they can make shore. Much is lost; something yet remains, something they can cling to in the dark something they cannot doubt, divine and unalterably true. And I say that if they only cling to that, like the shipwrecked sailor to a spar, it will buoy them up and bring them to the shore. There are those who make the haven gloriously. They have a prosperous and sunny voyage. Their love is burning, and their faith is bright; they live and die in the fulness of assurance. But I thank God that men can reach the haven clinging to a spar, for the Lord God is merciful and gracious. Trembling on the borders of agnosticism, questioning the fatherhood of God, uncertain of the authority of Scripture, critical of the Church and of its ministry, let them grip Christ, the little bit they know of Him; let them tell Him that they will not let Him go, and He will pluck them out of the deep waters.
Lastly, and in a word or two, I apply the words to broken character, to those whose character is sorely broken and who today are on the margins of despair. I think of the prodigal son in the far country; his conduct had disgraced the name of son. I think of Peter when he denied his Lord, and his whole life seemed toppling to ruin. I think of Rahab in her life of sin that must have crushed all that was fairest in her. I think of the woman who was called the Magdalene. Not perfect characters, very far from that; rent and torn by the fury of their passions; characters that sin had battered as the storm had battered the vessel of St. Paul. And then, thanks to the grace of God that is able to save unto the uttermost, on broken pieces of the ship they came ashore. The prodigal came home again, and there was music and dancing in the house. The Magdalene was drawn out of the mire into the garden of a saintly womanhood Some who read this have been living carelessly, and their character has gone to pieces in the dark. Thank God that there is still a shining hope for them as for the shipwrecked comrades of St. Paul.
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