Have you ever seen a heartbeat?
It is a brutal and severe sight, one that pounds and swirls about, enticing every organ to sway and quiver in an unceasing orchestra of existence.
It is a beautiful sight. Spectacular really. And in that moment, when you glance upon that tiny dancing foetus, you realise that once upon a time we were all perfect. Utterly perfect. We were just tiny beating hearts, untainted by the cruelties of this world. We were once kind, without fault. Selfless, without preconditions. We were once unblemished, without the complexities and guilt and burdens of sin.
We were once just tiny beats and bodies, swirling around in our mothers' wombs, waiting for our lives to begin. And then at once they do. They begin with a burst of light, a dazzling, yet austere glow which announces our long-awaited arrival into a foreign land.
And it is a foreign land.
At that moment we have entered into a world that is frothing and drowning in sin. A world that, whilst beautiful and humbling and splendid, is just as harsh and cruel and unjust.
We enter into a place that is both cold and perilous and imperfect. And so we sin. We break. We cry and we lose our way. As our tiny feet grow we slowly use them to walk away from the truth, from the wise, and even from ourselves.
We forget that we were was once just tiny hearts, beating with utter perfection. We were once the most impeccable, the most beautiful versions of ourselves. We had yet to experience heartache or loss or even failure. We were an unspoiled and beautiful heartbeat.
But at some point we realise that we are no longer as shiny or complete as we once were.
Sometimes this realisation is like a thief in the bleakness of the night. You are utterly shocked. You felt secure in yourself. Self-assured and self-righteous.
And then you fall....
You break into a million pieces; each one sharp and jagged.
Other times our fall from perfection is foreseen...we each step, each decision and we just know that it is only a matter of time before we crumble. We see each seam pucker and watch ourselves tear, until we are completely undone.
Brokenness I have come to see has no bounds. And its depth is vast.
Of course we know that we can be mended again. Aren't we always? But mending is really the wrong term isn't it? We survive. We pick ourselves up, or someone else does that for us, and we put on a brave front to the outside world, despite our pain which screeches and wretches within us.
But survival is a mere state of being. Survival does not always ensure joy and restoration. It merely assures that each breathe will be followed by yet another.
But Jesus promises the broken more than sheer survival.
He promises to save them, to heal their wounds, to heal their scars, and to heal their shame.
He promises to bind up OUR wounds.
Thus as I stood in that medical centre last week, transfixed by that beautiful drum-drum- drum of a miniature heart, I was reminded of God's love...even for the broken. Although this small heart is perfect now, untainted by the sinfulness of this world, her mother is drowning in shame and heartache and regret. And yet despite this, Jesus loves them both... equally.
God's love then is not just for perfect, unspoiled beating hearts. His love is always and forever with the broken.
Jesus died for the broken! He died for you and I.
And he promises more than mere survival. He promises to save us.
Alison Barkley currently lives in the Philippines, whilst working with an aid organisation.
Alison Barkley's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/alison-barkley.html