While heading out the door of a friend's house, I felt it slip out from under my arm. Then came the sickening sound. Splat as it landed flat, but underneath the splat sound was a definite clink. I didn't have to look. I knew when it hit that the screen on my iPhone was shattered.

"Oh no!" my friend cried out, "maybe it's okay?"

"Nope," I said, "I bet it's cracked in a jillion pieces."

Jillion was a slight overestimation, but it was definitely shattered. However, I didn't have time to speculate, mourn, or strategize about my phone and it's nearly unreadable screen. I had a seminar to give the next two days so I would think about what to do with the phone on the long trip home. Thankfully the phone still worked and I found some clear packing tape to hold it together and protect my fingers.

So what do you do when your phone looks like a mess of fractured glass?

Well, there are several options:

  • Buy a new one no matter the cost, even if I am not in my upgrade window.
    But, have you really priced that option? Ouch! Ridiculously high, besides two newer versions of the iPhone are rumored to be coming out between June and September.
    Maybe I should wait!
  • Wait till the upgrade window, then get a new one.
    For me, that's just a little over two weeks away. But then there are those new phones coming out and it seems ridiculous to pay such a high price for something that is going to be more than two versions behind in a few months.
    Maybe I should wait!
  • Use another phone, maybe with not as many features, but that can still make calls and send text messages.
    But, I use my phone for so many other daily things — address book, email, flight schedules, weather, Accordance Advanced Bible software, Facebook, Skype, notes, camera, copying receipts, CaringBridge updates, Calendaring, hearing aid adjustments, Twitter, Evernote and alarm clock. (And yes, I use every single one of those almost every single day.
    Maybe I should wait!
  • Go see another carrier, start a new contract with them, get the latest Android phone that appears to be better with more features, and then cancel my old service in two weeks.
    Great idea, but... I would have to learn a new phone ecosystem that I don't like as well, I would have to transfer tons of data, and not have some key apps.
    Maybe I should wait!

Our Father now calls us to be agents of redemptive healing and reconciliation.
I made it less than a week. My eyes were watering from trying to read the screen. My text messages had all sorts of missed typos and the attendant weird autocorrect guesses for my typos automatically "fixed." I couldn't wait! Yet I didn't choose to do any of those four things listed above.

I looked up a repair company. Turns out it was only two blocks from my office. I gave them 90 minutes and I had my iPhone 4s looking as good as new — and working flawlessly. I was out about $100 — ouch! — but after a week of eye strain and embarrassing typos, I was happy to have my old familiar digital brain in tow. Instead of rushing to get a newer model because the old one's screen was fractured, I chose a novel idea in today's world: I paid the price to repair it!

So what does this have to do with anything spiritual?

Simple. The problem of fractures happens in almost every kind of relationship. Our choices are very similar to the four listed a few paragraphs ago. Bottom line, we are tempted in relationship fractures to get a newer version of a friend, a spouse, a church, a club, a business partner... you name the relationship; you know what I mean. But wow! The cost is high and the ethics are questionable. Trading in the old version for a newer model is frequently practiced in relationships. What follows, however, is the floating debris of broken relationships we've left behind. The problem is, this flotsam washes back up on the shore of our daily lives, pulls at our hearts, and impinges on our future relationships. And none of this even deals with the spiritual issues involved in abandoning relationships in ways that displease and dishonor Jesus.

So whether the fracture is with a spouse, a sibling, a parent, a business partner, a close friend, or church leaders, the choices are similar. While I can simply get a new _____ (Fill in the blank with the appropriate term!), will this really heal the fractures in my heart and help me (or the other person) get on with a new life? Or will I simply add another layer of debris that washes up on the shore of my life, limits my future, and dishonors my relationship with Jesus as one of his followers.

This is not to minimize the hurt caused by these fractures in relationship. I can still hear the deep, rich voice of Linda Ronstadt capturing the emotional agony behind the words of the Jimmy Webb song, "Shattered":

Like a windowpane
Broken by a stone
Each tiny piece of me lies aloneAnd scattered
Far beyond repair
All my shiny dreams
Just lying thereI'm broken, but I'm laughing
It's the sound of falling glass
I hope that you won't mind if I should cry,
In public, while I wait for this to pass'Cause sweet darling I'm shattered
Into fragments cold and gray
Sweep the pieces all away
Then no one will ever know how much it mattered
Something deep inside of me

When relationships are shattered, deep wounds are left behind. Repair is not easy. Relationships are never exactly the same and there is wound that must heal. But, isn't this what God calls us to do? And, will our wound ever really heal if all we do is try to forget the pain and leave the person we believe has caused it?

God paid the price to reconcile us back to himself (Colossians 1:15-23) at his cost! Now, our Father calls us to be agents of redemptive healing and reconciliation in our individual worlds. Whether it is in our relationship with brothers and sisters who have sinned against us (Matthew 18:15-20), marriages caught in conflict or apathy (Malachi 2:10-16), disagreements caused by prejudice and bigotry (Ephesians 2:11-22), or even with our enemies (Romans 12:9-21). For Jesus' healing to be globally redemptive, we have to make the personally our mission.

We don't know when the ultimate time we get our relationship upgrade and all our relationships are perfected in the fully realized Kingdom of God at the Lord's coming. However, we do know that we are called to fix what is shattered rather than simply trading in what is broken for a newer model until the same fractures occur and we leave behind more relational debris in the water that we know will wash back up on the shore of our own lives.