Have you felt the pain inflicted by the Lord? — “He said to him the third time, ‘…do you love Me?'” (John 21:17) Have you ever felt the pain, inflicted by the Lord, at the very center of your being, deep down in the most sensitive area of your life? The devil never inflicts pain there, and neither can sin nor human emotions. Nothing can cut through to that part of our being but the Word of God … Oh, the wonder of the patient directness and skill of Jesus Christ with Peter! Our Lord never asks questions until the perfect time. Rarely, but probably once in each of our lives, He will back us into a corner where He will hurt us with His piercing questions. Then we will realize that we do love Him far more deeply than our words can ever say. – Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, March 2
April 16, 2010, I was moving a bookcase, rearranging the house, in preparation of my son’s birthday party. My mind was still reeling with what all had happened. The week prior, we had the initial meeting with the court where everyone got on the phone regarding the Legal Separation I had filed, understanding that to be the only way of protecting my children from their Mom just picking them up someday and running off. I had expected her to get on the call and request that we drop the Legal Separation, get into counseling, or any number of ways to end this situation immediately! Instead, she got on the call, stating her intentions to go forward, and her response included a legally-shrouded request (long-story short) for a divorce.
On April 16, moving the books, I came across my Chambers devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. I thought, “I just wonder what this says for the night she left.” I read the above and fell into a heap of tears. It had never struck me that all I was going through could be an expression of God’s love. And then I wrestled with this strange love that goes against my flesh! Ha ha. Did you catch that? It took me a few months or so to fully catch it. My problem with this being an expression of God’s love was because I was exalting myself above His plan. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Why did I call this post Brokenness? Because that is what such times are all about. Especially for us men, God seems to be catapulting, exploding us out of a deep sleep we have fallen into. I continue to run into men who have lost their marriages; either the wife has taken off, has chosen to end the relationship, has separated from him, or is still in an in-and-out relationship with him. And the common theme I find is brokenness.
When we are broken, we become useful to God. If we have everything put together, we tend to become prideful in some manner and we begin to lose our dependence on God. Yet, the greater reason (I think), which may be the only visible reason in some cases, is to expand the Gospel. First, let me illustrate this through Scripture, and then I will give two examples from my own life.
A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. – Isaiah 42:3
God is faithful not to take us beyond what we can bear, but He is also the Master Potter and must make the pot what He so pleases for it to be (if you are not a believer, then I cannot guarantee how much of this will apply to you). I encourage you to look up the definitions of broken, as they are enlightening given the Scriptures here, but with that, we move on a bit.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise. – Psalm 51:17
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” – Matthew 21:42-44
It is less about God breaking us and more about us realizing how broken we already are! Now, please don’t hear me wrong! I’m not getting into a ooey gooey bunch of tripe about how God is all about self-realization. I would hope the rest of my blog proves that’s not true, but what is true is how fallen and broken we are! Jesus comes to us and says, “Look, you’re broken! You can either accept this (fall on this stone), and we can start working on putting you together rightly or you can fight this and be destroyed in Hell (on whomever it falls…). So, consider the love that God is willing to bring this to light rather than let you rot in your sins and failure.
But even more than that, God is building a beautiful creation out of you.
Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.
Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. – Jeremiah 18:3-10
I highly encourage you, if ever you have the chance, to see Potter’s Field Ministries put on their study. The first time I saw what a Master Potter does, so much of how God works in my life made sense. Nonetheless, I want to draw your attention to verse 4 above, “But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.” It does not matter how bad off your life has become, no matter what caused your spouse to leave or you to leave her, you can still be redeemed by God and He can still work in your life! He is such an amazing God that, like a Master Potter, there is nothing you can do that He cannot work into His masterpiece!
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
Here is the deepest purpose of trials. In the process of trials, we are cracked open, the pot is broken such that the treasure inside can come through! By our trials, our faith is revealed, and God will use that to affect others with the Gospel, spelled out in your walk through a virtual hell. We suffer that others may know Him. Our suffering grants us both an incomprehensible example to the world (how can one stand under such grief?) and ticket by which we may speak into their lives by their questions, their requests for advice when they face trials after watching us survive, and by the compassion we gain through knowing the pain that trial caused in us. While I don’t want to spend all our time fleshing this out, a good friend of mine, Pastor Shawn Reinsel of White Flag Calvary does a great job of it in this video, it’s just over 6 minutes! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beSlPShlM1c)
And to give you a few examples from my own life, in my own situation, I got an incredible opportunity to share the Gospel with my co-workers. God worked mightily, amazing my co-workers at my level of effort and quality of work amidst such pain. They could not understand how I could stand under this trial. In the midst of that, they began to ask me questions, seeking to help me and understand what I was going through; by the time they left, they understood more and had been given the Gospel. It was incredible! While I would love to say that I saw people saved directly through this, I can’t. I did, however, hear accounts of how my example changed lives, strengthened marriages, and encouraged wayward believers to press into Jesus.
Since then, I have had the distinct privilege to counsel some men who have had to endure such trials, of all different walks and outcomes. By God’s grace, He has used me to comfort these men and provide His wisdom to encourage their walk in the tougher times. Honestly, sometimes that means just being a shoulder to cry on. Yeah…it’s ok to cry! =) I know it sounds goofy to some, but I know there’s someone out there who needs to hear it, that it is ok for you to cry about this.
Two final thoughts before I end this already long post. First, don’t just sit back and “let” God have His way, but step up and engage Him on what He wants. Step into the path He wants for you and step up to the sanding block. Engage Him so His work can be accomplished without Him having to move you! Second, I want to repeat that it is ok to cry. It is ok to pound on the chest of God, to question why and to beg for what you want (the widow and the unrighteous judge, Luke 18:1-8). It is ok! He can take it! The only thing I say to you is to remember He doesn’t owe you the “why?” answer, and remember who He is and what He has done for you. Don’t let that be a condemnation, just a caution. I have allowed myself to be deceived into not saying anything, until He broke my walls down and the sorrows gushed forth. So let Him hear, let Him heal, and press into His plan, into Him!
And with that, I will let you simmer and let Him speak further whatever He desires to say.
Questions, comments, corrections, please use the comments and be respectful (as opposed to kind, you can be harsh, just be respectful! =D)
If you have read this post and don’t know Jesus, I cannot stress enough how much you need to know Him and right now! We are never guaranteed tomorrow, so now is the time to commit your life to Him! If you are here, and you have never accepted Him into your life or if you are here, and you desperately need to walk with Him again, then may I have the privilege to give you a little prayer you may say? This prayer, itself, has no power to save you! The words you say must echo in your heart and mind. The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raise Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) So, it is your faith in Jesus payment that truly saves you, but here’s a way to pray and receive Jesus’ payment for you:
God, I know I have sinned. I have failed to live as you asked me to live. I cannot be perfect. I trust Jesus paid my price by His death on the cross and His resurrection three days later. I want You to be in control of my life. Thank You for all You have done for me! Please help me to live for You.
And that’s it, dear reader! Welcome to the Family of God! But I must warn you, the Devil is real too, and he will try to steal this truth and life from you. So, I encourage you to find a church in your area to grow within. I am personally a bit biased toward Calvary Chapels since I’ve always found them to be solid churches. For more on this, I refer you to a previous post: A Heartfelt Mind-Meld: The Truth That Changes Things… At the bottom, you’ll find more information on how to get plugged into a solid congregation.
Vires et Honorem
1 Corinthians 5:10