“He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
Years ago I went through some of the darkest days of my life. What I thought was going to be the greatest and happiest time turned into days and weeks of deep hurt and disappointment.
During the middle of this situation I was an emotional wreck. Matter of fact, my wife was concerned that I might be having a nervous breakdown. Like Jacob in the scripture, I was wrestling with God. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. I had done nothing wrong to merit such treatment.
As I continued my argument with God, as to why He was letting this happen, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a sincere prayer that I had prayed months earlier. Leading up to this moment, I had been reading a book where the author asked the question “What means more to you than Christ?”. The Holy Spirit captured my attention with this question. It so occupied my thoughts that a few weeks later I preached a sermon around that question. After the sermon I gave an invitation for the congregation to exam their lives. Nearly the whole church responded to the invitation with tears and sincerity.
In the closing prayer I prayed a prayer similar to this; “Dear Lord, show me the things in my life that mean more to me than Christ, and then help me to have the strength and courage to surrender those things so that you may become my life in that area.”
As the Lord brought that prayer to my mind, I continued my argument with God, “Lord what means more to me than Jesus? I had surrendered my life to preach and teach the gospel. I was a faithful witness for Christ and I was doing the best I could serving as a pastor. What could possibly mean more to me than you?”
Then the Holy Spirit pressed my heart with this question? “Why are you such a basket case about your situation?” I responded, “Because I could lose my ministry.” Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. my ministry was my life, and I was about to lose the thing that was life to me.
Surprised by Brokenness
Beginning that day I had a new appreciation for crisis and trouble. I now knew what it meant to come to the end of myself and be broken. I discovered a new fullness of Christ’s life. Jesus desired to be more than my Savior, He wanted to be my very life. In my zeal for ministry I had let the work of the ministry replace Jesus as my life.
In hindsight, even if someone whom I highly respected had pointed out that ministry was my life, I would have denied it. It took being surprised by brokenness to bring me to the end of myself so that the Holy Spirit could reveal how I had slowly, but intentionally, allowed ministry to replace the Lordship of Christ, and the fullness of the Spirit.
Brokenness is your best friend
What I had considered my biggest hurt, had become my greatest blessing. God loved me so much that He allowed me to be deeply hurt. He knew what it would take to bring me to the end of myself. I was in a situation that I couldn’t fix or make better. God opened my eyes to the real need, and that was total surrender and abandonment.
Are you in a struggle with something you can’t change, fix or pray your way out of? Then take note, it could be the Lord attempting to get control of something you are not willing to surrender. The more you worry, the deeper your despair and the greater your self-induced unhappiness.
Can a person make Jesus their life without experiencing brokenness? Yes, it’s possible, but not very probable. Most of the time God uses our circumstances to bring us to the end of ourselves, so that we have no place to go but Him. Have you heard anyone say, “Well things have gotten so bad, all I have left to do is pray.” That’s pretty sad isn’t it? Prayer should be the first thing we do. If you are like me, I haven’t said those words but the way I lived reflected that attitude.
The flesh is a very strong component of our life. It fights every attempt of surrender and utter abandonment. So God in His mercy, and His long-suffering, allows us to get to the point where we can’t change or fix our situation. The only place for us to turn is to Him. We must lay down our rights and our expectations and give God permission to take control. Then acknowledge that whatever He allows to come our way as OK. That’s the work of brokenness, and it’s your best friend.
I often tell people that brokenness is both an event and a process. It becomes an event the first time your realize that brokenness has come to your life in order for Christ to take control. Secondly, brokenness becomes a process when your realize that you will have “little brokennesses” all along the way in your walk with God. These events will be reminders that there is an area of your life where God is not in control. This becomes your cue to identify and surrender, in order that Christ might become life in that area of your life.
At the turn of the last century, missionary statesman Watchman Nee wrote a book entitled
The Normal Christian Life. In the book he teaches the principle that brokenness and surrender is the normal Christian life. In other words, brokenness and surrender are to be a normal part of our walk with God.
God’s intention for us is to live in complete surrender of every aspect of our life. Do you have the courage to ask the Lord if there is something in your life that you haven’t been willing to give up control to Him?
Remember this principle: God seldom takes anything away from us that He does not replace with something better. That’s because when you are in God’s will you are in God’s hand.