Saturday, October 15, 2016

StreamsInTheDesert : October 15

When it rises up, the mighty are terrified, as its thrashing about they withdraw. (Job 41:25)

God uses most for His glory those people and things which are most perfectly broken. The sacrifices He accepts are broken and contrite hearts. It was the breaking down of Jacob’s natural strength at Peniel that got him where God could clothe him with spiritual power. It was breaking the surface of the rock at Horeb, by the stroke of Moses’ rod that let out the cool waters to thirsty people.

It was when the 300 elect soldiers under Gideon broke their pitchers, a type of breaking themselves, that the hidden lights shone forth to the consternation of their adversaries. It was when the poor widow broke the seal of the little pot of oil, and poured it forth, that God multiplied it to pay her debts and supply means of support.

It was when Esther risked her life and broke through the rigid etiquette of a heathen court, that she obtained favor to rescue her people from death. It was when Jesus took the five loaves and broke them, that the bread was multiplied in the very act of breaking, sufficient to feed five thousand. It was when Mary broke her beautiful alabaster box, rendering it henceforth useless, that the pent-up perfume filled the house. It was when Jesus allowed His precious body to be broken to pieces by thorns and nails and spear, that His inner life was poured out, like a crystal ocean, for thirsty sinners to drink and live.

It is when a beautiful grain of corn is broken up in the earth by DEATH, that its inner heart sprouts forth and bears hundreds of other grains. And thus, on and on, through all history, and all biography, and all vegetation, and all spiritual life, God must have BROKEN THINGS.

Those who are broken in wealth, and broken in self-will, and broken in their ambitions, and broken in their beautiful ideals, and broken in worldly reputation, and broken in their affections, and broken ofttimes in health; those who are despised and seem utterly forlorn and helpless, the Holy Ghost is seizing upon, and using for God’s glory. “The lame take the prey,” Isaiah tells us.

O break my heart; but break it as a field
Is by the plough up-broken for the corn;
O break it as the buds, by green leaf seated,
Are, to unloose the golden blossom, torn;
Love would I offer unto Love’s great Master,
Set free the odor, break the alabaster.

O break my heart; break it victorious God,
That life’s eternal well may flash abroad;
O let it break as when the captive trees,
Breaking cold bonds, regain their liberties;
And as thought’s sacred grove to life is springing,
Be joys, like birds, their hope, Thy victory singing.

—Thomas Toke Bunch*

* http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/desert/


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Did you notice how many times the word 'broken' appears in the text? You can't miss it - especially that appearance at the end, '...God must have BROKEN THINGS'. What does this mean? How are we to reflect, honestly, on this concept without being discouraged? 

I phrase these questions this way because, to be quite honest, it is far too easy to be discouraged when I read this text. I have been living a very broken, messed up life these last few weeks. I haven't even opened by Bible. But sitting down to breakfast this morning, with my Bible and Streams within reach, open and ready for the reading, I read these words:  '...When it rises up, the mighty are terrified, as its thrashing about they withdraw. (Job 41:25)

Now, context is everything. So, please, take the time to read through the entire 41st chapter found in the book of Job (and, if you dare, read the entire Book of Job). What is the 'it'? It's this mysterious leviathan. No one actually knows what this is. Some have likened it to the Loch Ness monster, others, a mythical dragon. Whatever it is, I think we all have our 'leviathan'. You know it. I know it. It's that thing that we can't quite describe, but it's there. And when it glares its eyes at us, and rises up to take its place in our lives, we, the so-called 'mighty', are terrified, as this leviathan thrashes about. We seek a hiding place, but not in the LORD. When this supposed deadly monster rears its head, we withdraw and are terrified. 

NASB translates this verse, '...because of the crashing they are bewildered'. ESV, '...they are beside themselves'. Are you bewildered? Am I beside myself when I witness this deadly dragon in my life? To put it bluntly, when I see the dragon, I am broken - but not broken like the LORD desires me to be. 

As I've already mentioned, you can't get away from the 'broken passages' of this text. We can't get away from these passages in our lives either. But here's the problem: we have a wrong definition of broken. When something is broken, we either hope to fix it or throw it away. When we break the handle of our favourite coffee mug, we throw it away. We don't inspect the break, or run to the hardware store for some china glue. We throw it away. It's useless to us. Broken, in our world, is useless. Not in God's world. Please note all the broken and useful examples the author sites above in Scripture. All taken from this simple text, describing the leviathan, brokenness can be re-defined. 

The author, Thomas Toke Bunch, writes, 'Those who are broken in wealth, and broken in self-will, and broken in their ambitions, and broken in their beautiful ideals, and broken in worldly reputation, and broken in their affections, and broken ofttimes in health; those who are despised and seem utterly forlorn and helpless, the Holy Ghost is seizing upon, and using for God’s glory.' Do you believe this? Do you believe, in your brokenness, you can be used for the LORD's glory? Do I?

What if, right smack dab in the centre of your broken circumstances today, the LORD wants to reveal Himself to you? My temptation (even as I write this) is to write something like (what I've seen so many times written in response to brokenness), '...the LORD wants to use you, in your brokenness, to minister to peoples' needs'. I am not suggesting this is false, but may I suggest to you, that in the midst of our broken situations, if we are centred entirely on what the LORD can do in and through us in our brokenness, we'll continue to remain broken, but in a worldly sense, until we are broken and resting in Him. 

You see, I've come to have a greater understanding of brokenness in a way like no other. Brokenness, in the LORD's presence, is beauty. Not primarily because He can use us (please allow your mind and heart to grasp this). Being broken is beauty because the LORD can (and does) reveal Himself to us. It is only in brokenness that we really catch glimpses of His majesty and glory and the ever-true expressions of His love toward us. 

Do you believe this? Do I? Ministry to people comes later. Get in your closet. Close the door. Be willing to open up your broken places to the LORD and experience the leviathans disappear, in the light of His Glory. It may seem a bit odd that this passage of this mysterious dragon-like creature appears in the Story of Job, but follow along. After this chapter, and you'll see Job's reaction to all of his circumstances, and how, in His majesty, the LORD puts Job in his place (not a place of condemnation, but right and true worship lifestyle).  

Job had to be broken in order for him to experience the LORD in ways he never would have, if he had no where else to go. His circumstances were worth it, in light of the sweet fellowship he found in the LORD. His brokenness was blessing.

Are we willing to be broken today?

For a great reflection on the terms of brokenness, please go to this YouTube clip:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWHKclekF60&feature=player_embedded

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