Do you ever feel that the Lord is taking a concept or principle and placing it before you repeatedly? I’ve learned that when I sense that… it’s to my benefit (and His glory) that I pay close attention. Often I have no idea WHY He’s chosen to impress upon my heart that particular subject, and yet experience has taught me that it is imperative that I listen. Chances are that I will need to draw on the lessons learned in the not so distant future… and I want to be ready!
With that said, I have no idea why I have been hearing Him speak to the issue of brokenness, but it has been a repeating theme in my life over the past week or so. I don’t currently feel “broken”, but I have been involved in the lives of several close friends who I believe would describe themselves, without hesitation, as being in a place of brokenness.
When I think of brokenness, two different scenarios come to mind. There is, of course, spiritual brokenness. There are times when we have finally come to the end of ourselves, and found that He is there… and He cultivates in us a contrite heart (Psalm 51). Times when the Potter takes the clay pot and decides to do something totally new with it. Sometimes it means breaking the pieces so that He can remake them. It always means experiencing the Refiner’s fire… but in the end, it leads to a place of full surrender for us, and helps us become vessels that He can use… for His glory.
In addition to spiritual brokenness, I think there are times that we feel… well… just plain broken. It may not be some deep sin that has taken hold of us, but just circumstances themselves. I know that when Jasmine was burned, this mother felt completely broken. Life as I knew it was over, and although I knew I had to pick up the pieces and go on… I had no idea how to do that, or what it would look like. Even knowing that God is faithful — that He loved my daughter even more than I did and would do what was best for her — even knowing that, I felt broken. I needed Jesus to do a mighty work in me and put me back together again. And He did.
Webster’s lists a variety of different definitions and examples of being “broken,” but the main definition was so telling to me:
“Violently separated into parts.”
Take a moment to let that sink in. Whether your brokenness is the result of devastating circumstances, or your own sinful choices… doesn’t that describe how it feels?
A child in a tragic accident.
A marriage of 20 years suddenly falling apart.
Cancer stealing away the one we love most in the world.
The phonecall in the middle of the night that comes so suddenly, and changes absolutely everything.
The Hebrew word for broken is “shabar,” and it means:
to break, break in pieces
- break, break in or down, rend violently, wreck, crush, quench
- to break, rupture (fig)
- to be broken, be maimed, be crippled, be wrecked
- to be broken, be crushed (fig)
(Piel) to shatter, break
(Hiphil) to cause to break out, bring to the birth
(Hophal) to be broken, be shattered
I know that there are times in my life when the Lord needs to break me. As long as I remain arrogant and determined to do things my way, I’m not surrendered to what He wants to do in my life. There are times that He has to break me in order to use me… and as painful as it can be (being violently separated into parts is definitely painful), I know that in the brokenness, I find healing.
“The high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in that high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts. (Isaiah 57:15) “
I just finished reading Sandi Patty’s book, “Falling Forward.” Talk about a story of brokenness! In case you’re one of the 2% of people reading this who isn’t already familiar with her story, I’ll give you a few details. Sandi was at the top of her career (Christian recording artist) and while everything looked great from the outside, on the inside… she was falling apart. Amid the scandal of an affair and divorce, Sandi experienced a very public fall from grace… but she would be the first one to tell you that through the process of restoration and experiencing the Lord’s hand in her life, she has learned what it truly means to be broken, and to fall into the arms of God’s redemptive grace. As she so eloquently states in her book:
“Your brokenness puts you right where God wants you — not too proud, not too arrogant, but humble and ready to roll up your sleeves and get dirty… From the moment we say, ‘God, I have really screwed up here,’ or ‘God, I am ready for Your healing,’ He says, ‘Okay, let’s move forward.’ Part of moving forward is to begin extending ourselves beyond our own lives and problems. You’ve had a defining life experience, and it’s time to begin using it to express your love and care for others.'”
Regardless of the cause of our brokenness, God wants to use it! Don’t you know… He works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! How redeeming is that?? God can take the very thing that caused me to feel “violently separated into parts” and use it to help me minister to someone else who is feeling broken! Hallelujah!
I told you I was seeing this theme all over the place. I think it’s very appropriate to end with something precious that Maggie wrote last week. While on a field trip with the school, she had been collecting beautiful fall leaves. One of the children picked up a rather odd shaped, old, dry, crunchy leaf – wanting Maggie to add it to her collection. She put it with the others… but it was definitely not what she had in mind. She viewed it as a dry, sort of broken leaf. Until the boy said, “See, it sort of looks like a butterfly!” Sure enough… it did.
Maggie also coined a new phrase… “Imputed Glory.” I just love that! Let me quote from her post (in case you deny yourself a blessing by not clicking on the link above *smiles*), because I think her illustration with that broken leaf is a beautiful way to conclude our discussion on brokenness.
“God views us this way, you know. Living out our broken-ness, we are of greater value to Him. We leave a creative message of hope to the world those really searching. Live out your life, in all your broken glory!”