The ART of Finding God in THIS Cloud – Broken
Warning! Not for the faint of heart!
I have heard the wracking sobs – in person and over the phone. I have been accosted by the pleas to “change my mind” and the painful cries to “Love me again. Let me back into your life.” Descriptions of unendurable pain and agony have been painted with words, both spoken and written. Declarations of brokenness have been made. And yet, when there is contact, it feels like rough edges that poke and cut and strive to keep me away. There is a barrier I have difficulty in naming, much less understanding.
There is broken. And then there is broken.
One can be broken by the circumstances and hurts of this world and choose to stay there. That one might rise up in anger and rebel against the system and declare his rights have been violated. He deserves different – better. He fights and he struggles and he insists on viewing his interpretation of the situation as the only valid interpretation there is. Broken – and choosing to keep the sharp edges sharp. After all, doesn’t that provide protection from being harmed again? Or is it possibly, subconsciously, a protection designed to keep the unwanted perception of being misunderstood, the possible perception of a monster, a broken man, locked in and hidden from view – at least for now?
God called Jesus Christ to what seemed unmitigated disaster. Jesus Christ called His disciples to see Him put to death; He led every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. Jesus Christ’s life was an absolute failure from every standpoint but God’s. But what seemed failure from man’s standpoint was a tremendous triumph from God’s, because God’s purpose is never man’s purpose. – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest – http://www.myutmost.org/08/0805.html
And then there is broken. Broken and yet tender. Broken and yielded to the work designed to bring redemption. Broken and still focused on the heart of the Father towards those who threw the stones and wielded the sticks and plunged the dagger and sent life into a tailspin that came crashing down on the rocks. Shattered. Lying in pieces all over the ground. Shattered, and yet there was something about the pieces that still witnessed to the intent of the whole, yes, even the Creator Himself. Beauty. Peace. Love. Forgiveness.
I have been struggling with this idea of brokenness, wondering how I really deal with my own brokenness, not just the story I tell. I am beginning to listen intently, hearing my words, feeling the reactions in my body, paying heed to the thoughts that run through my mind. I am examining my own reactions to the circumstances in my life that have thrown me down on the rocks and shattered me. Finding areas of pride that fight against the brokenness. And finding areas of humility that choose surrender and transformation through the brokenness.
I have a picture that helps me to sort through my reactions. I love the beach, especially out here in the Pacific Northwest. The beaches here are rocky and shell fragments abound. In some spots, there is even sand. While I love the feel of the sand beneath my feet and between my toes (like the warm Florida sugar-sand beaches), I have come to love the rocky beaches here. I see myself in these beaches – and I see the lives of those I love.
Our beaches here are covered with pieces of shells. When the seagulls grab their favorite foods – clams, mussels, oysters, scallops (which all live in hard shells) – they fly over the rocks and drop them to get the shells open so they can get to their food. Sometimes the shell fragments land high up on the beach and sometimes they land close to the water’s edge. The pieces that land close enough to the water to frequently be caught in the rolling tide quickly have their edges softened and rounded and are smooth to the touch. They also develop a soft shine and their colors are enhanced. The pieces that land far from the water’s edge are only caught up during high tides and they remain jagged and rough and dull. I still find the shapes interesting, but they lack the depth and beauty created by the tumbling of the tide and the interaction of other shells, pebbles, and rocks present on the beach.
I imagine that there are fragments of any one particular shell in both places – far from the water’s edge, right down in the constant tumbling, and points in between. I believe that is true for me. There are areas of hurt and brokenness that I have brought to my Father and willing submitted to His tumbling and smoothing and polishing work. There are other areas that I have tried to protect and dragged further up from the rolling waves. There has been some work done in these areas, but they are still rough and lack a deep luster. And then there are the areas that are protected far up on the beach, guarded from the work of the tides, sharp and unattractive. Put out of my consciousness and left there to become dull and bleached by the sun.
I desire for all the parts of my broken condition to be brought to the water’s edge, to be tumbled into a work of beauty that invites others to come to the water’s edge and be remade and polished in order to reflect the beauty and grace of our God and Creator.
I no longer desire to withhold my broken pieces from God’s tumbling. Please do not think that I am somehow impervious to the pain and the confusion that comes with the tumbling action. I am very well aware of what it means to surrender to God’s refinishing processes. But, I am also aware of the benefits – and they far outweigh the difficulties of the process. I want my life to shine and reflect God’s glory, because I desire intimacy with Him. And so, I choose surrender. I choose God’s work in my brokenness. I choose His process and praise Him in my pain, as in my joy. Broken and being transformed!
Faith. Grace. Mercy. God’s provision for each of us! Even in our brokenness.