Wednesday, February 17, 2021

MR BELL'S FIXIT SHOP - Isaiah 61 Devotional #3

"...The LORD has anointed Me ... to heal the brokenhearted..."
– Isaiah 61:1c (NKJV)
"Mr. Bell could fix almost anything. Broken locks, broken clocks, broken pans, broken fans, broken plates, broken skates -- he could fix them all. People smiled when they walked past his little shop and saw the sign in the window. It said: 'MR. BELL'S FIXIT SHOP. I FIX EVERYTHING BUT BROKEN HEARTS' -- with a picture of a cracked heart."

So begins the story of Mr. Bell's Fixit Shop (Ronne Peltzman, 1981) -- my children's best-loved Little Golden Book thirty years ago, and now my four-year-old granddaughter's favorite as well. Mr. Bell was a darling septuagenarian who could fix anything and everything that the citizens of his tiny town brought to him. But those qualifications alone don't make for a memorable children's tale. 

What elevates the book to a timeless classic -- and Mr. Bell to the level of hero -- is when Jill, a child who loved to spend her afternoons in his fixit shop, burst through the shop door one day with her favorite doll hopelessly mutilated by the family dog. Our protagonist spends most of the night alone in his shop, applying his near-miraculous fixit powers to the doll's remains. When Jill arrives at the shop next morning, the dolly-love of her life is looking as good -- better, even -- than when she was new.
"When you fixed my dolly," says Jill, "you fixed my broken heart too." And, in response to the grateful child's urging, Mr. Bell alters the sign in his window: adding a Band-aid over the cracked heart, and changing the words to: "I FIX EVERYTHING -- *EVEN* BROKEN HEARTS."

A broken heart is, by definition, a state of grief and despair resulting from the loss of something profoundly meaningful -- often a relationship or a person who is deeply loved. And the only way to truly cure a broken heart is either to restore that which was lost (as in the case of Jill), or else to replace it with a new object of profound love, for example, if a child receives a new puppy in place of his beloved dog who died, or a young lady finds true love in place of the weasel who jilted her. 

Continuing our fascinating journey through Isaiah 61, the passage prophetic of Jesus' earthly mission, we see Him as the great Healer of broken hearts. He accomplished this feat, of course, through the cross and resurrection -- restoring what Adam had lost for us in the Fall: relationship with Him Who is deeply loved, our Creator. Through this miracle of reconciliation, He lifted humanity from brokenhearted grief and despair, to the bosom of joy. 

But it doesn't end there! 

In the story of Mr. Bell, Jill tells him, "I want to have a fixit shop of my own when I grow up." So Mr. Bell made her his special helper. 

While on Earth, Jesus had twelve special helpers. And as He prepared to leave them, He said, "I am sending you, just as the Father has sent Me." (John 20:21 CEV) They had grown up, and now they had a fixit shop of their own. A shop that's come down to you and me.

How do we fix broken hearts? Sure, the power of the gospel -- salvation from Sin -- is the greatest healer of all. But there are other wounds of the heart as well. 

Ezra's commission was the rebuilding of the temple. As the foundation was laid, "Many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy." (Ezra 3:12 NIV) Restoration of worship brought healing to their broken hearts.

Nehemiah was sent to the repatriated captives at Jerusalem, who were in a desperate situation of "great distress and reproach" (Neh. 1:3 NKJV) due to their city's wall lying broken and burned. Rebuilding the city wall restored their security, pride, and national identity. The story closes with great joy and celebration (Nehemiah 8) as the people's collective broken heart, now restored, is lifted in praise.

John the Baptist's ministry was to "turn heart of the fathers to the children, and the children to their fathers." (Malachi 4:6) Relationships restored. Broken hearts healed.

What has the great Fixer of Broken Hearts ordained YOU to do? Whether the task be great, small, or in-between, you can -- as the old hymn says -- "be His hand extended / Reaching out to the oppressed."

Why not pray ...  

"Dear Father, I know You have a special place for me in the corps of broken-heart healers. Help me discover what it is and, in Your limitless strength, make a difference in the lives of those You place in my path.

In Jesus' name. Amen"

Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 2/17/2021. 

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