The Shambles



While on holiday, Carl and I visited York, Yorkshire. A charming place comprising of old Tudoresque buildings crammed together with York Minster Cathedral at its heart.

Among the city centre of York is a street named The Shambles. Those of you who watched Harry Potter growing up, I could liken it to Diagon Alley.

The Shambles encompasses a stretched lane of buildings which I can only describe as higgledy-piggledy! It’s a true depiction of a maze of twisting, narrow lanes which make York so charming. The architecture of the overhanging timber-framed fronted buildings which now appears so quaint is clearly what attracts visitors each year.

The street’s cobbled foundations and pathways don’t conform to a straight path. Carl and I noticed that this is not a street for prams! – take note parents! If you look closely you can appreciate the various intricate details of misshapen and sunken roofs, tiny doorways and window frames that barely fit into their exterior brick. Yet out of these extra- ordinary and unique buildings, shop owners have created mini gems! The shops themselves are just strikingly unique and are worth a look whether you buy something or not.

This particular street is rammed with tourists each time I visit York. It’s a struggle at times to get into shops; a combination of the miniature entirety of the shops with more than a handful of people doesn’t mix well. Yet people still visit and embrace the uniqueness of this street and consider it an experience to be walking down the path and purchasing from the shops.

As Carl and I shared a pasty while sat outside in the main square, I spotted yet another building that was sunken and couldn’t quite fathom how it was still standing. Yet out of this building, the owner had a created a beautiful coffee/cake shop, embracing its deceptively useless shell. This shop was now part of the many eclectic and iconic buildings tourists flock to see and visit throughout the year.

Where am I going with this?

I considered how I often view myself and hear my dear friends view themselves as sunken, misshapen, broken, ordinary, useless different and don’t fit in.

Yet when I looked at these buildings which were exactly all of the above, instead of concentrating on their obvious external appearances and exterior, I gazed in awe at these beautiful buildings surrounding me.

They were each beautifully unique, each bringing something different to the table, offering something of their rare gifts and talents. Their outward shell which they’d inherited from the past didn’t hinder their ability to deliver their gifts and only made them more appealing and endearing to others. They were each beautiful, carved out of a shell that would appear seemingly useless and qualified for demolition/ destruction.

I want to encourage you today as I felt Jesus whisper gently in my ear- you are like one of the shops on this street Cheryl, you may feel broken, sunken, indifferent and useless in your shell, but I can reshape you to how I see best. What I placed within you is what’s going to draw people to you where they can come and hear about me.

I feel he’s saying the same to you. God says we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14-16 (MSG)

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!

Body and soul, I am marvelously made!

I worship in adoration—what a creation!

You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

He has made each of us in a unique and beautiful way. You were no accident- he created you, he chose you!

Jeremiah 1:5 (NCV)

“Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.”

 You may not fit in with the crowd; perhaps your fashion sense is a bit out there, your hobbies separate you from those of your friends, your talents and gifts aren’t your typical ones, perhaps you have a disability, your struggling to get past your past or you just generally feel different. Are you always trying to conform to the ways of the world; what your friends are doing, what your family have always done and so you must too? I love what it says in Romans…

Romans 12:2 (NCV)

Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.

I feel Gods saying that he loves you just the way you are! He has given us each different gifts and talents and wants us to embrace them.

God calls the broken, the messed up, the ordinary and freely offers salvation to all those who believe in Him. You don’t need to clean up your act before you accept his love, grace, mercy and His abundant blessings.  He will use your differences and outward shell that’s been misshapen from your past, use you and re-shape you for something beautiful! You are not a shambles, washed up, sunken, broken, indifferent or ordinary. You are unique, extra-ordinary, beautiful, risen up, restored, healed to new life and loved by your heavenly father!

Our Daily Bread ( says…

A broken life can be renewed when it is touched by God’s love and grace. In the Old Testament, we read that when the prophet Jeremiah watched a potter working, he noticed that if an object was marred the potter simply reshaped it.

Jeremiah 18:4 (NIV)

But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.




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