Deflated Dodgeballs and Deflated Hearts

There is nothing sadder than a deflated dodgeball.

BallUseless. Worthless. Good-for-nothing.

We–the church–got broken into yesterday. A window was shattered beneath the gym and people were able to come in through the opening.

I didn’t realize that we had been vandalized until, well, I almost saw it happen again.

The gym is in a renovated school. The building is three stories high, with the gym composing the higher two. Beneath the gym is a dining room and kitchen only used by YouthWorks, and part of the church clothes closet that we are in the beginning processes of cleaning out. I was sorting through clothes in the clothes closet when two kids, high schoolers, reached through the shattered window to release the latch and climb through. I saw them before they saw me, but once our eyes met they fled.

It was at that point I saw the broken window and concernedly ran upstairs to assess any other damage. What I saw in the gym broke my heart.

The scoreboard, as sparsely used and old as it may be, was recklessly beaten. Two softballs laid in the center of the court with which the vandals senselessly pelted the scoreboard. Lights were broken and plastic casing was shattered.

Surveying for more damage, I saw a deflated dodgeball across the gym.

Useless. Worthless. Good-for-nothing.

And my heart was broken. For those kids.

The little damage was saddening, but my heart broke because it was easy to think poorly of those kids.

Useless. Worthless. Good-for-nothing.

Part of me wanted them to pay for what they had done.

Part of me wanted to invite them over for lunch.

My heart breaks for teenagers who pursue senseless destruction. My heart breaks for the kids who would skip school and take up vandalism in its place. My heart breaks for how their lives may have led up to something like this, and could continue to more senselessness.

But the gospel changes everything. Jesus doesn’t see a bunch of degenerates. He sees teenagers who are desirable.

Jesus sees the brokenness of people much more clearly than the brokenness of a scoreboard.

And while I have to balance responsibility and compassion, I know that Jesus wants a relationship with these teenagers a whole lot more than he wants a window fixed.

Be careful when you pray “break my heart for what breaks yours.” You just might get a broken window too.

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