This word weighs heavy on my heart, mind, my very soul.
I have stumbled across it often lately in books, blogs, sermons, in life. Even in nature, it’s everywhere.
It is a word that scares me. Mostly because I am understanding more and more its necessity.
I have been weighed down watching the brokenness of those close to me and those not so close anymore. Their grief, their diagnosis, their loss, their pain, their choosing to keep going, their choosing to give glory to God in the midst.
Right now I am on the outside. Tomorrow I may be in the midst.
A few nights ago I woke up from a strange dream. It was about this very word. Broken. I was struck by it, a bit shaken actually. It’s not something I like to really think about, explore, you know how it is. It scares me.
In my dream I was a woman – well, sometimes you are strange creature-like things – and I think there was actually more than just one of me. And we were all together in a room. And I was watching the others of me. And they were different than me. And I noticed this. They all had a common bond, a unity that I could not share in. They had been broken, cracked open, stripped clean, there had been pain, repentance, restoration and now they were smiling. They had come out on the other side and were giving thanks. I think they shone, something like the glory of God.
I was waiting for that to happen to me. But it never came. I looked down at my hands and they were closed tight. Little white balls that screamed “NO!” and I felt it inside of me the “NO!” of not wanting to be broken. Not wanting to feel pain or repentance or obedience. It was so real and I understood what I felt and why.
And then I heard the other of myself say in a far away voice, “Look, she is turning.” And so I looked and I was. I was becoming mush. Mush? Yes, like in the book Goodnight Moon – “a bowl full of mush…” My hands and feet and then the rest of me turned to a strange kind of mush and I was rendered utterly useless (well, it was a dream after all and stranger things have happened in dreams).
And then I woke up.
I stayed awake for a long time after. My mind wouldn’t stop thinking about what I had just dreamed, the strangeness of it and why I would dream such a thing. Again, it scared me.
A couple days after my dream I was again faced with the ‘need’ of it. This time while teaching science to my children – the process of a seed. It must be broken, die in fact, for new life to come about. And we see this everywhere in the process of new life: a butterfly breaking it’s cocoon, a grasshopper breaking out of it’s locust shell, a snake shedding skin and it goes on and on…
And again I am brought back to the fear… and this tight-fisted clutching of “NO!” And my dream is no longer a dream, but reality. And I feel it all turning to mush, ash, utter-uselessness… all while staring at a science book.
And then tonight. While in the middle of composing this post, we are driving home from a day spent with friends and it’s raining and the thought comes quick and wild, it could easily happen in a flash, and then it almost does. Tires screech, steering wheel sharply swerves, I grasp the door and gasp as I force my eyes to watch the car pull out in front of us, bracing for impact. But it doesn’t come and we somehow escape, this time.
You see, I know it’s necessary, this brokenness before God. To be transformed, renewed, made more like Him. I know we can trust Him with our lives, with our pain. I know this, I have seen it, have experienced it, I believe it. So then, why do I brace myself for the impact, why do I fear it?
I looked up Matthew Henry’s Commentary on that verse in Psalm 51 about a true sacrifice to God being a “broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart”. Here is what it said:
The breaking of Christ’s body…
The breaking of Christ…
It is a necessary work. Not for despair. But to make us pliable… usable… obedient… tender… humble. It is a necessary work, a sharp work, but necessary. And Christ made the ultimate sacrifice, the breaking of His body, the spilling of his blood, Him dying… it was necessary – for no sacrifice but that could take away sin – my sin. If Christ had to be taken there, how much more do we need to be?
I know I am a slow learner. It takes a while for things to sink deep within me. That’s why I often read books at least twice. One Thousand Gifts is no exception. I have read it through once and I am now working my way through it again. God is teaching me so much. In chapter 8 she shares the whispering of God to her heart about this very issue of fearing what God might bring:
I want to get to the place where I not only accept ALL the good God sends me, whether the means be through pain or suffering. But to also relax and not fear it, to not brace myself for the impact or clutch tight, white-knuckled. To trust in the goodness of God and the good that He brings through brokenness. I want to give thanks for it, even in the midst.
I will leave you with a few more words from our God. Words our Pastor has been sharing with us over the last few weeks. Words my mind will not let go of…
And we know that God causes all things to work together for GOOD to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren;
and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO IS AGAINST US?
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
God is not a closed-fisted God. Why then should I be? He freely gives all good and perfect things, should I then not freely and openly accept them? Giving thanks for them, even before receiving them? Trusting and not fearing? For it is necessary, that I should be useful, conformed, glorified…
Take My Life Lyrics
By: Micah Stampley