walk in the word
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart.
We are taught as kids to hate broken things. I can remember lots of stuff that broke when I was a kid. I can remember broken toys and the first time I broke my arm; I fell out of a tree. It swelled up and I had to have a cast on it. It was an awful thing. Then as we got older, it wasn’t so much something physically broken that hurt so much as it was emotional. It became “You broke your promise.” Or, “She broke my heart.”
We’ve learned to hate broken things. But hear this: that’s not the way God looks at it. God delights in brokenness because it is in our brokenness that He can begin to do in our lives all the things that He longs to do.
We see brokenness all through Scripture. From the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve broke fellowship with God yet God reached out in love and restored them. Job 16:12 said, “I was at ease, but He has broken me.” Even in the favorite Psalm 23 there is brokenness.
Many years ago, Philip Keller wrote a book called A Shepherd Looks at the Twenty-Third Psalm that talks about the real meaning of the verse, ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures.’ Keller says, “Every shepherd knows what that verse is talking about. You get one little lamb that is so stubborn and rebellious and you want to protect it and you want to care for it, but it won’t stay in the fold. It won’t stay in the green pastures. So the lamb runs away and the shepherd goes and gets the little lamb and brings it back again. And again the little lamb runs away. Again the loving shepherd goes and gets it and says, ‘You’re in danger out here. Come on back into the fold.’ Again the little lamb runs away and the shepherd goes and gets it and brings it back and puts it back in the fold.
“Every shepherd knows what has to be done,” Keller continues. “The shepherd pulls the little lamb up into its lap and takes its little tender leg and cracks it over his knee.” He says, “That’s the meaning of the verse that says, ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures.’” Sometimes God has to break us and allow things to be broken in our lives because it is then that we begin to see how desperately we need Him.”
Think about brokenness in the New Testament. Remember in Luke 7:27 when the lady came to Jesus with the alabaster flask and broke it and poured out the ointment on His head? Then there was the time when our Lord Himself gathered His followers around Him. Do you remember some of His final words? After He had blessed the bread and broke it, He said, “This is My body—broken for you.”
Have you ever been broken? Have you ever been at a place in your life where you had an ongoing attitude of genuine humility before God? If you have, then you’ve been broken. Brokenness says not just, “God, I need You,” but “God, You are all I need.” Brokenness is a desperation for Him.
Brokenness is empty-handedness before God. It has no-demands, and makes no-requests. Brokenness is falling into the embrace of your loving Father and finding Him to be enough. Brokenness is saying “no” to the clamoring voice of your flesh, “no” to the pride and self-confidence that has made you so restless and unhappy for so long and “yes” to the longing for God that is deep within every person’s soul. Almighty God has placed a longing for Himself deep down inside us. We try to fill it with so many things or we think that because we’ve received Christ as our Savior that that longing is filled. But Hebrews 10:22 says, “In light of the fact that we have come to know Him, let us now draw near.” It is the intimacy with Him that fills that void, not just a mere relationship.
A lot of times we come to Christ with a stubborn, rebellious, “I-can-do-it” attitude. God has to break us of that. You ask, “What exactly has to be broken?” I’ll tell you—
My stubbornness. “I am going to do this my way.” You can fight with Him for a long time if you want to but if you are one of God’s children, that stubbornness is on its way out.
My pride. God hates pride in my heart and He hates it in yours. People who have been greatly used by God have come to grips with the need to dispense with all pride. How are you doing in this area?
My willfulness. “You can’t make me. You can’t tell me.” If those words have ever come from your lips, that’s willfulness and its gotta go. He is going to use whatever He must to get that out of our hearts and our lives. He hates it.
My independence. “I can make it without You, God.”
All of these attitudes keep God from showing up in our lives so these are the things He goes after. What specific tools does He use? Things like: Broken health, broken careers, broken dreams, broken relationships, broken promises, our broken hearts.
The purpose of brokenness is to bring me to the place once and for all where I see and embrace the sufficiency of God in all things. Brokenness is trying to get us to these attitudes:
“I can’t, Lord, but You can.”
“I am nothing, but You are everything.”
“I won’t, but You will.”
“I can’t, but You can.”
These are wonderful freeing words, but they do not come easily. They only come when we are broken—broken of our pride, our willfulness, our independence and stubbornness. The purpose of brokenness is to bring us to the point where we can say to God, “You are all I need.”
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