The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalms 51:17
When my husband and I married, we also started our lives together in the ministry. We were youthfully passionate about our call to serve God. There was one particular song, which we sang ardently throughout those early years and it epitomized our hearts cry. We would sing this first verse:
WILL YOU BE POURED OUT LIKE WINE UPON THE ALTAR FOR ME?
WILL YOU BE BROKEN LIKE BREAD TO FEED THE HUNGRY?
WILL YOU BE SO ONE WITH ME, THAT YOU WOULD DO JUST AS I WILL?
WILL YOU BE LIGHT AND LIFE AND LOVE, MY WORD FULFILLED?
(And then we would cry out our response to this call to sacrifice!)
YES, I’LL BE POURED OUT LIKE WINE UPON THE ALTAR FOR YOU!
YES, I’LL BE BROKEN LIKE BREAD TO FEED THE HUNGRY!
YES, I’LL BE SO ONE WITH YOU, THAT I WOULD DO JUST AS YOU WILL!
YES, I’LL BE LIGHT AND LIFE AND LOVE, YOUR WORD FULFILLED!
It was a beautiful thing– until we were poured out like wine and broken like bread! I somehow forgot that the grapes had to be crushed before there was wine to pour out on the altar and the dough had to be kneaded and baked before there was bread to be broken and dispensed to the hungry. Funny thing was, when I realized what the song really meant, for a while, I didn’t want to sing the song so much.
God was using circumstances and people in my life to bring me to a place of brokenness. A place where I could recognize all that I have and all that I am and all that I do in and of myself is greatly and miserably insufficient. Before that, I am ashamed to admit, I thought God was fortunate to have me on His team. I actually thought I had done Him a favor by switching my major and transferring to a different college to prepare for the ministry. I was so proud, self-righteous and full of myself.
I did not know that humility was a prerequisite for being poured out like wine and broken like bread.
I learned, in fact, its only when we come to that place of brokenness that we are actually able to truly magnify the Lord. And apart from brokenness we are incapable of authentic worship and service. Without brokenness, we think we are owed something for our service to God. We come in looking to be satisfied, appeased, recognized, congratulated, rewarded and prospered. Well, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since I first began to learn these lessons of brokenness and I am still learning them.
I believe God uses three types of brokenness. He uses the Brokenness Of Sin to help us see there is nothing good in us apart from His grace, mercy and forgiveness. We must cry out like David in Psalms 51, “Have mercy on me, blot out my transgressions, wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin for I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me.” There are some who would say that brokenness over sin is not necessary or even scriptural because of the advent of God’s grace through Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. But I would have to agree with Randy Alcorn, who said, “Any concept of grace that makes us feel more comfortable sinning is not biblical grace.” I believe we, as a society have embarked upon a major cultural shift. As Leonard Ravenhill so eloquently put it, “The world has lost the power to blush over its vice; the Church has lost her power to weep over it.” Thomas á Kempis in The Imitation of Christ writes this of the brokenness of sin:
It is there you showed me to myself, what I am, what I have been, and what I am coming to for I am nothing and I did not know it. Left to myself I am nothing but total weakness. But if you’ll look upon me for an instant, I am at once made strong and filled with new joy. Great wonder it is that I who of my own weight always sink to the depths am so suddenly lifted up and so graciously embraced by you.
God also uses the Brokenness of Circumstances. Most of us are trying to be godly without understanding the ways of God in suffering. The character of Christ is worked out in us by God through the seasons of tribulation we encounter in life, not by any virtue, effort or good intentions of our own. Hebrews 5: 7 and 8 says, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” Even Jesus was willing to be “broken” through sufferings. He became personally “acquainted with grief” and showed through His sinless life that obedience may be manifested in the deepest sorrows. In prosperity we forget it. We become self-confident and rebellious. Oswald Chambers said, “God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us with.” I have to admit, there have been times when God has used a certain person or circumstance to “crush” me and it took all the trust and faith I could muster and I still came up short on being obedient. But when I finally submitted myself and embraced what God was doing, I received a deeper revelation of God and one more reason to give Him all of my praise and adoration! Oh, and the flavor of the wine and bread got better!
The last brokenness God uses is the Brokenness Of Intercession. There have been times in my life when I was praying and I was overcome with brokenness for a particular person or situation. I could feel their pain or despair with such intensity and this caused me to pray more fervently. This brokenness removed my personal ambitions and agendas from my prayer and helped me pray with the compassion of the Lord. We see this same brokenness in Nehemiah, Ezra and Jeremiah, which you can read more about by clicking on the “Just Say Know” Bible Study link on Brokenness below. I like the way Don Nori describes it in his book, Tales of Brokenness. He says of the power of brokenness in intercession, “You see through the eyes of the Lord instead of eyes of a selfish human being. You are moved by the things your Father is moved by. For the first time you see humanity as God sees it—struggling to prosper, struggling for happiness, struggling for fulfillment, struggling for love. You also feel His heartache for the men and women He so carefully created, and hear the groan from much deeper in His heart than you can comprehend. It is as though His heart is broken and so it is. You see His love for us, a yearning for our well-being so great, so intense that He gave his son for our redemption. ” This brokenness, as the others, again makes us see how insufficient we are on our own. It makes us understand that our capacity to love, care and forgive is virtually nonexistant when compared to God’s capacity. If left on our own to minister and love in our own strength, the wine would be bitter and His children severly malnourished by the only bread we would have to offer.
Dear Lord, Do whatever you like in my life. Produce in me the kind of bread and wine that will benefit your children that you love so much. Yes, I’ll be poured out like wine upon the altar for you. Yes, I’ll be broken like bread to feed the hungry. Yes, I’ll be so one with you, that you can do just as you will. Yes, I’ll be light and life and love, your word fulfilled. LH
“JUST SAY KNOW” Bible Study
Click on the link below for this week’s Bible Study.