Friday, June 10, 2016

Cracked mirrors & original sin, or, When things go wrong no matter what

Sometimes, in spite of our golden intentions, things just go awry. Frankly, it’s really annoying when this happens. Take for instance yesterday.

The replacement glass piece for our car’s broken passenger side mirror came. It cost about $45. A seriously absurd amount for what it is.

The repair should have been a cinch. The old, broken piece came off easily enough and would snap back easily enough. But then I tried doing the same with the new, unbroken replacement part.

Krraackkk! Or at least I think that’s how they’d spell the sound effect in a comic strip. But there was really nothing comical, to me, about what happened.

The part didn’t reattach as easily as expected. I pressed on it. Then pressed a little harder. And then pressed what was apparently a little too hard. The glass shattered. $45, as they say, down the tubes, up in smoke. Poof!

So, here we are. (And I’m wondering how Romans 8:28 comes into play here. Or even Philippians 4:13.)

The original mirror is broken. The replacement part is broken. And we’re out $45. It’s all wrong even though no one did anything wrong. Not really.

Some will say, “Yes you did! You were wrong to press so hard!” But how was I to know what was too hard? And I really wasn’t pressing all that hard, but was just trying to get the bottom part to snap in as it was supposed to.

Some will say, “Maybe that really wasn’t the right replacement part.” That’s a possibility, except that all of the available information clearly pointed to it being the right part. If it wasn’t, then someone lied, misrepresented the facts,  I misread, or some combination thereof.

Some will say, “You just didn’t do it right.” Possibly. But, there were no clear instructions included with the part. All I had to go on were a couple of YouTube videos related to similar parts, looking at how the mirror on the other side seemed to be attached, and my own experience of taking the old mirror off and putting it back on. It seemed simple. It should have been simple.

We could go on and on trying to discern fault and assigning blame. Like we do in life.

Someone screws up and we are fast to name names and point fingers. If it’s us who screws up, we try to dodge fault while stewing in our shame. All in all it’s a zero sum game. Especially when all the available rules were followed and all the known information was acted upon.

Such is life on this broken planet.

We mess up this and that because Adam and Eve did. After The Fall, we’re all klutzes, prone to sin. We’re born that way.

When it comes to the flaw of The Fall, intellect, wisdom, skill, personality, wit, beauty, or any other positive trait is meaningless. Even detailed instructions miss the mark.

Sooner or later, figuratively speaking, we will break the glass. (If you’re unsure, this is a euphemism for “sin.”)

Even Paul in his well known lament acknowledges this frustrating reality: “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:14-15, ESV).

Our best efforts to do good fail us because, well, we’re naturally born screw-ups. Or, as Paul put it, we are plagued with weakness as he was.

In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul characterizes his struggle as it applied to a specific issue, his “thorn in the flesh.” Frankly, the persistent impact of original sin (aka The Fall) seems a pretty big thorn we all deal with daily.

But why did Paul claim to struggle with his specific issue? In his own words, to keep from becoming conceited in his faith. (Okay, there’s the Romans 8:28 application.)

Still, just as all creation groans under the weight of our fallenness [aka screwed-upness], Paul wanted release from this thorn. Instead, he was pointed to a better solution: “But [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”

Finally, after all the accusing voices are silenced, including our own, we are left standing amidst the metaphorical shattered glass with only one recourse.


With Paul, we can declare, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my [screwed-upness], so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with [being screwed up and suffering] insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am [screwed up], then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10, ESV [changes mine]).

As for the broken car mirror? I guess we’ll be calling the dealership. (Ah, there’s the Philippians 4:13 application. Not what I expected, but it works. So we may as well toss Romans 5:2-5 into the mix for good measure.)

It’s all grace.

How do you apply the verse, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) to your life? How do you experience and struggle against the reality of original sin? Are you quick to turn to grace or not? If not, why not? Does this blog post resonate with your experience? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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