A long time ago in a far away land, there lived a man with a broken heart.
In this land, everyone had hearts. The day a child was born, he was given a red, glass heart. This heart was very precious and very special. The people of this land were only given one heart, and they had to keep it for their whole lives. The purpose of this heart was to save it and treasure it for the rest of their lives, it was their most special possession. It was a precious gift and was meant to be guarded.
Too often, though, people took their hearts for granted. Naughty children would disobey their parents and go play with their hearts. Disobeying too much, they dropped their hearts and scarred them, forced to live the rest of their lives with their scarred heart, all because of their rebellion and disobedience. It was a sad fate.
Othertimes, when the children had grown into young adults, they were not wise on who they gave their hearts and would give their hearts away. Some girls gave their heart to the first boy they liked, only to get it back chipped when that boy found someone else to get a heart from. Not learning the first time, they kept giving their hearts to different boys over and over again, until their heart was so chipped and scarred it wasn’t recognizable. This happened to boys as well, not realizing that the more they passed their heart around, the more it faded and chipped.
Worst of all, there were cases of broken hearts. A young boy or girl would give his heart to a special person and they’d break it, throwing it away like it was garbage. Once broken, there is nowhere you can get a new heart. Some people faked their hearts and made plastic ones, but these were worthless. Others would try to buy a new one, but the minute it passed into their hands, it turned a light pink, showing it wasn’t their original heart. There was no way to get a broken heart fixed.
Because of this, most everyone in the land lived with some sort of chip, scar or broken heart. It was impossible not to get these marks on it. Life had a way of throwing every kind of obstacle that could break the heart. Ask anyone in the land and they could tell you the tale of what chip came from where and how that gash had appeared on their heart. They remembered every instance. They remembered it all. The pain of having to deal with a scarred heart was everyone’s burden. There was simply no way to keep their hearts safe forever, someday it would be flawed.
One such young man had been raised by his parents to save his heart for a special someone. In a unwise moment, he’d given it to a girl he thought he really loved. But the girl threw his heart down and broke it, laughing at his dismay. His heart was broken, and no one would accept a broken heart. No one would ever want him now.
Ashamed of his foolishness, the young man tried to hide his broken heart from everyone. But word spread through his village that he had broken his heart, and he was ridiculed by all.
“You’re worthless,” they’d spit. “You couldn’t keep your heart from breaking. We’re so much better than you.”
“It’s true,” he would cry to himself miserably. “I am no good. I have a broken heart.”
His parents tried to console him. “Everyone has a scar, a chip, or a piece missing from their heart,” they told him. “Someone will take your broken heart. Probably someone else who has one as well.”
But the boy didn’t want a girl to take him who’d broken her own heart. It showed she was irresponsible and unwise. Which meant he was also that kind of person.
“I am worthless. I have a broken heart, and there’s no way to fix it,” he sobbed to himself every night.
One day while he was walking in his village, a shout came from some of the villagers.
“Come see, come see!” they cried, waving everyone to follow. “Peter has returned from his journey, and his broken heart has been fixed!”
The young man joined the other villagers and surrounded Peter, who held up the most beautiful heart he had ever seen.
“It’s true!” Peter exclaimed joyfully. “My broken heart has been fixed! It was a very long, very hard journey, but it was worth it. He fixed my broken heart! And he told me I will never be able to chip it, break it or scar it again. It’s fixed once and for all!”
The young man’s mouth fell open. There was a man who could fix broken hearts? How come he’d never heard of this man before? Why hadn’t anyone gotten their heart fixed before this?
Someone else in the crowd was thinking the same thing. “Where is this man who fixes broken hearts? How can we find him?”
Peter smiled a sad, little smile. “It is a long and hard journey,” he explained. “You must travel for weeks and weeks, through the desert, through the mountains and up towards the Plateau of Brokenness. Once you’ve reached the top, the Heart-Healer will fix your broken heart.”
At once, several in the crowd left, shaking their heads. Everyone knew that the journey to the Plateau of Brokenness was treacherous. Many couldn’t make such a trip and turned back, downtrodden and hard, vowing never to try again. It was a near-death experience.
But the young man wasn’t one of those doubters. As everyone began to disperse, he came towards Peter. “Peter, how can I reach the Plateau of Brokenness?” he asked, his eyes filling with tears. “My heart is broken. I want it to be fixed. Take me there.”
Peter smiled at him and put a hand on his shoulder. “I cannot take you there, my friend,” he said. “You must make this journey alone to find the Heart-Healer. But believe me, once you make it to the Plateau of Brokenness, you will never experience such joy again when the Heart-Healer fixes your heart. I cannot go with you, but I can point you in the right way. It’s a journey you’ll have to decide to make on your own, though. I can’t force you to make the journey.”
“I want to do it,” the young man replied. “I want to get my heart fixed by the Heart-Healer.”
“Then go in the grace of the Heart-Healer, my friend. You will never regret it once you finish the journey.”
The young man went home and packed up right away, putting his broken heart into a little sack to bring to the Heart-Healer. He bade his parents good bye and kissed them on the cheeks. They cried that he was so desperate he’d make the journey to the Plateau of Brokenness, but they could not stop him.
“If you can’t make it, son, don’t be ashamed to come home!” his father called out to him. “Not very many people reach the Plateau of Brokenness.”
The young man didn’t want to return home with his mission incomplete. He wanted to get his broken heart healed. He wanted to have it shine like Peter’s. He wanted a heart that would never ever break again.
Like Peter had described, the young man discovered the journey was a very long and treacherous trip. Over huge mountains covered with snow, through deserts where he went for almost three days without water, across rivers that threatened to drown him. Throughout his journey he met many people who returned from their attempts to reach the Plateau of Brokenness.
“Turn back,” they called to him. “It’s too hard and far too long. It’s not worth trying to get your heart fixed, it’s too hard.”
Their indifference and scoffing depressed the young man. “What am I doing?” he said to himself. “Why am I making this journey? Everyone has something wrong with their heart. I’m no different than a lot of people. Why does it matter?”
But it did matter! He wanted his heart to be fixed, he didn’t want a broken heart anymore. It hurt too much to carry the shame of having a broken heart.
So he pressed on. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. The journey grew harder and harder. The young man began to grow sick and tired. With only a week left until he reached the top of the Plateau of Brokenness, he wasn’t sure he could make it. It was hard. It was difficult. Was it worth it?
It will be worth it in the end, he decided, remembering how Peter’s heart had shined. I must make it.
The climb up the Plateau of Brokenness was the hardest part of all. As the young man made his ascent, voices screamed at him from all directions, some in his head, others from travelers who sat on the path, defeated and wanting everyone else to be defeated as well.
“Who do you think you are, that you can have a healed heart? What makes you so special?”
“You’re so worthless. You broke your only heart. Why should you have it fixed? You’re nothing!”
“Everyone has something wrong with their heart. It’s fine. Turn back now before you die from this journey.”
The voices he heard tore at him from every direction. How he wanted to turn around and go home! How he wished he could have this over with! Maybe they were right, maybe this was all for naught.
But one voice, quieter and softer than the others, stood out to him. “You’re almost here. You’ve almost made it. Come to me and I’ll heal your heart.”
“No!” the young man shouted. “I will not give up! I will make it to the top!”
On and on he pressed. Higher and higher he went. The path became so steep that he had to crawl with his hands and feet. When at last he thought he could not make it, he grabbed hold of a ledge and stopped. A hand reached down. The young man looked up at a smiling, kind-faced man.
“You’ve almost made it, my friend,” the man said gently. “Can you take the last step to grab my hand to reach the top?”
How his body groaned at the idea of taking the last step. How his mind fought it, resisted it. With the very last bit of his strength, the young man took one tiny step closer and grabbed the hand of the kind man.
With a strong pull, the kind man hoisted him up to the top. It took a minute for the young man to realize where he was.
“Is-- is this the Plateau of Brokenness?” he stammered.
The kind man smiled at him. “It is.”
At last, the young man could take it no longer. He collapsed to his knees and sobbed. “Oh, kind sir, I have come to see the Heart-Healer,” he sobbed. “But I am a wretched man, a man who couldn’t keep his heart from breaking. I have ruined the most precious gift I’ve been given, I have messed up my life and blemished my soul. I am not worthy of getting my heart fixed. What a wretched, awful person I am.”
The kind man reached down and helped him up. He looked into the eyes of the young man, his own eyes brimming with tears. “Young man,” said he in a broken voice, “I am the Heart-Healer. You are right, you have messed up your heart. You have not been able to keep it from breaking. But you have repented of your faithlessness and admitted your wretchedness. I don’t care if you broke your heart, for I am here to fix everyone’s heart. All he has to do is come to me. I fix hearts for free and make them new, never to be broken again. Would you let me see your heart and fix it for you?”
The young man sobbed once more. Ashamed, he clutched the sack that held his broken heart and shook his head. “I cannot let you see it. It is too awful to look at.”
“I love you the same, even if your broken heart is the worst heart I’ve ever seen in my life. It does not matter to me, for I can fix it. But I cannot fix your heart if you do not let me have it,” the Heart-Healer said soberly. “Will you let me fix your heart?”
The young man finally broke down. He opened his sack and gave the Heart-Healer his bad, broken heart. “How can you fix a heart like mine?” he wailed.
The Heart-Healer’s face become joyful. His smile grew as wide as the sun, and he laughed with joy. “My friend, I can only fix the hearts of those who give them to me to fix. And you have given me yours, so now I can fix it! You will have a new heart and it will never break again! Today marks the first day of the rest of your life with your new heart!”
Putting his hand on the broken heart, the young man watched in awe as the Heart-Healer wrote in his own red blood a name on the broken pieces. J-e-s-u-s C-h-r-i-s-t.
The heart began to glow. It rose up into the air and started to spin. Faster and faster it went, so fast that it became a blur. With a burst of light, the heart descended into the young man’s hands, shining so bright that at first he couldn’t look at it. As his eyes adjusted, the young man saw that his heart had indeed been fixed, and it was whole once more!
“Thank you, oh, thank you!” The young man threw his arms around the Heart-Healer, Jesus Christ. “Thank you for fixing my broken heart! How can I ever repay you?”
“It is a gift from me to fix your heart,” the Heart-Healer explained after returning the young man’s hug. “You will never be able to repay me for healing your heart. But go back to your home and village and show everyone what I have done for you. Don’t go home and put your heart away, show it to everyone! Show them that your heart has been healed, and tell them that they must simply come to me if they want their heart fixed as well.”
The young man couldn’t thank the Heart Healer enough. What had taken him months to travel seemed like a few mere days as he returned home to his village, so happy was he. When he arrived back home, he called all his fellow villagers to come and see his new heart.
“How did you get your heart fixed?” the villagers asked him. “How can we get our hearts fixed?”
The young man paused and recalled his journey. How could he explain to them that, though the journey would be the hardest one they’d ever gone on in their lives, it was well worth the pain?
The young man smiled a sad little smile. “It is a long and hard journey,” he explained. “You must travel for weeks and weeks, through the desert, through the mountains and up towards the Plateau of Brokenness. Once you’ve reached the top, the Heart-Healer will fix your broken heart.”
Several of the villagers shook their heads and walked away. But one young boy stepped forward.
“Paul, how can I reach the Plateau of Brokenness?” he asked, his eyes filling with tears. “My heart is broken. I want it to be fixed. Take me there.”
The young man smiled at him and put a hand on his shoulder. “I cannot take you there, my friend,” he said, remembering how Peter had said those same words to him. “You must make this journey alone to find the Heart-Healer. But believe me, once you make it to the Plateau of Brokenness, you will never experience such joy again when the Heart-Healer fixes your heart. I cannot go with you, but I can point you in the right way. It’s a journey you’ll have to decide to make on your own, though. I can’t force you to make the journey.”
“I want to do it,” the boy replied. “I want to get my heart fixed by the Heart-Healer.”
“Then go in the grace of the Heart-Healer, my friend. You will never regret it once you finish the journey.” Paul smiled and reached down to hug the boy. “The Heart-Healer loves you, and He will be glad to fix your broken heart.”