The Humpty Dumpty paradox

June 22, 2018


My daughter recently reached the wise old age of five. She now asks the great philosophical questions of life. Questions like, “Dad, why does Humpty Dumpty sit on the wall?”

I can see her point. Humpty doesn’t have the best balance in the world and so he takes a tumble. He ends up so ‘shell-shocked’ that no one is able to put him together again. If only he kept off that wall, he would not be so, well…broken.

To a child’s way of thinking, being broken is a negative. This perception does not change much into adulthood. Broken things are, by default, impaired and/or devalued. Broken things need throwing away. Broken is bad.

However, there are exceptions. My dad was a Mr Fixit and I was fascinated by the wizardry his hands could bring about. Bowls or vases in pieces became whole again and dead appliances came back to life. There is a special place for an item that was redeemed from its broken state. 

And then there are the stories I have read about malformed bones in children that doctors have to purposefully and precisely fracture in order to restructure them in a more appropriate shape. Stories where being broken is the key to full and proper healing.

I believe it is in these analogies that we find clues to understanding the upside-down nature of God’s kingdom. In this kingdom it is only the broken applicants who are admitted. 

It is a condition of entry. 

“And whomever falls on this stone will be broken…” (Matthew 21:44).

“A broken…heart…O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

It is not normal for us to want to be broken. We like to think we have it all together. Vulnerability comes with difficulty to us sons and daughters of Adam. We don’t like our outer shell broken.

But we need healing, and healing requires some drastic changes. We need our outer shell to be broken and our lives reshaped. However, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot help us. Who do we turn to?

“He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because…he has sent me to heal the broken hearted…” (Luke 4:18).

We need a master surgeon. Never the king’s horses and men, or self-help books and motivational speakers, it is only the king himself who knows our condition well enough to operate. He knows the blueprint, how we were supposed to move and fit together. He is the Mr Fixit who can bring together the shattered pieces of our lives and craft them once again into something beautiful and good.

Herein lies the Humpty Dumpty paradox. Entry into God’s king­dom requires us to fall off our walls of indecision and independence. We must be broken. Maintaining our claim of wholeness and completeness prevents us from experiencing the fullness of life that comes from the surgery and healing that God offers. 

Holding on to our place on the wall keeps us from being one of his treasured vessels, one of his redeemed from the Earth.

“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68).

There are lots of Humpty Dumpty in the world today who would do all they can to stay put. However, the key is not sitting there. It is in falling off onto the rock, being broken, and putting yourself into the hands of the one who can make you whole.


Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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