18“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
20A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he leads justice to victory.
21In his name the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12)
I want my stuff to be perfect. If I’m forced to buy dented, scratched, bent, or dinged up merchandise I expect a stiff discount. In the store you’ll often find me looking over my purchases for signs that the boxes have been opened and returned. If I find one, I prefer to switch it out for something ‘brand-newer’ looking. For me there’s nothing better than the feel, look, and smell of something perfectly new, no matter how fleeting the moment lasts. A couple of months ago I bought a brand new motorcycle. Before I had 20 miles on the beauty I tipped it over and scratched the tailpipe. So it goes.
Apparently my quirks are not unique in history. I’m no expert in Judean first century life but I’ve read a thing or two about it. I’m told reeds were like the duct tape of ancient life. Folks used reeds like the Chinese used bamboo – a million and one uses and counting! I can imagine the feeling of going out on a quest to find just the reed I need. I can see myself looking one over, scanning every spot for an imperfection that would move it far below my standards. If I find one… SNAP! Rejection!
Same thing was true with the oil lamps, I’m told. Oil was expensive, but the wicks… any old piece of linen or flax would do. So what about a wick that got a little wet or was a little too thick or was less than perfect in some other way? It began to smoulder and smoke and the effect was more than a little annoying. If I want a house full of smoke I can just light up a green tree branch for heaven sake — I spent hard-earned money on that fancy oil!
I thank God every day that He is not like me. You see I am a bruised reed. I am a smouldering wick. I grew up feeling damaged, disposable, and more often than not invisible. But when Jesus saw me standing there smoking up his house he didn’t give up on me. He cupped his hands around me and blew tenderly to keep me alive. He cared about me when no one else did. He revealed love to me again and again and I will be forever in His debt.
There are no disposable people with God.