Things break. Sometimes they break because of normal wear and tear. I recently had to replace my front break lines with some help (ok my friend did most of it) because of this. Other times things break because they have been over-used and abused. When my kids were little they would bring me a toy that had become broken and they would say, “Here, Daddy, fix it.” (Sometimes they still come to me for this but it’s usually when the internet is down.) When we have to go to someone else to fix something that is broken, we have to humble ourselves. When I take the car to the mechanic, or ask a friend to help, I’m admitting that I can’t do this, and that someone else has the means or knowledge. When my kids come to me they are looking to their Daddy, whom they love and who loves them, and asking him to fix their prized possession. There is an intimacy, there is a brokenness in the very act of asking for help to fix the broken thing.
Have you ever had something break, but you just let it stay broken and learned to live with it? Currently there is something in my car that is making an annoying rattling sound. Some of the reasons we might not deal with getting the thing fixed are we don’t’ want to spend the time, or maybe the money, or we don’t want to ask for help, or we think that when it really breaks we will just toss it and get a new one.
I think too many of us, myself included at times, think of our own selves in this way. We all, disciples of Jesus or not, know that we are broken, malfunctioning people. We all need to be repaired, rebuilt, refurbished. But for some reason, even we disciples don’t go to Jesus to be repaired. We live with things that are broken because we’ve gotten used to it, we’ve become comfortable with it, we don’t want to bother with the effort to deal with it, and on it goes.
Basically, we don’t want to be broken in our hearts in order to go to Jesus and deal with our broken lives and attitudes. In other words, there is being broken, and their is brokenness. Without living in brokenness we will continue to live broken lives. This is not that for which Jesus died and rose again. To continually do so is to not be what Jesus made you to be. It’s ripping yourself off, as well as those around you.
In the Old Testament over a dozen different Hebrew words are translated into some form of the English word “broken.” Broken commandments, broken walls, broken promises, the ground being broken up, etc. In the New Testament there are close to 10 Greek words translated as “broken.” A house being broken into, bones broken, commandments broken, etc. There are two places in particular where the concept of brokenness are addressed.
Psalm 51 was written by David after God busted him concerning his affair with Bathsheba, their illegitimate child, and the murder of her husband. David is broken. He recognizes that his live has become broken and he, himself now comes before the Lord as a broken man. Psalm 51:16-17 get at the heart of what needs to happen in order for this broken man to be healed. David recognizes that God doesn’t really want sacrifices of bulls and goats. In other words, God’s doesn’t want to be bought off. God isn’t an accountant or a banker that is keeping track of what we owe Him. He is a Father who wants His children to come to Him and say, “Here, Daddy, I’m broken. Fix me.”
In verse 17 Davis says that “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart–These, O God, You will not despise.” The word for broken means something that is broken apart into pieces. He starts off by pointing out that God wants a broken spirit; a spirit that is in pieces. He then says that God wants a broken (same word) and contrite heart. The word for contrite means something that has been crushed together. This is no longer pieces, it’s more like dust, or perhaps like crushing grapes to get juice, or olives to get oil. David, in his brokenness about his broken life, comes to the Lord with the pieces of his life and asks his Daddy to fix him to restore him (see Psalm 51:12).
What is God’s attitude toward this?
Luke 4:18 by way of Isaiah 61:1
Jesus says that the words in Isaiah 61 are about Him, and among the tasks listed is that He has been sent to heal the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18). These are the same words (Hebrew/Greek equivalents) as in Psalm 51, specifically the idea of being crushed. What is God’s answer for the crushed heart? To heal it!
God’s Spinning Wheel
Do you see the significance of brokenness? There is one significant difference in terms of how I, as a father deal with my kids broken toys, and how the Lord deals with our brokenness and broken lives. All that I can do, at best, is get the toy working in such a way as it was before it broke. If I had to I’d buy a new one to replace the broken on. God doesn’t do this with us. When we come to Him as broken people, in a state of brokenness, if we hold ourselves up to Him and say, “Daddy, I’m broken, please fix me,” He doesn’t just patch us up and send us on our way. He wants to remake us into something new.
Picture yourself as a clay pot that is cracked (crack pot, ha!) or broken into shards. What God wants to do is turn us back into clay so that He can reshape us into something new. This involves being crushed and mixed with water (a picture of the Holy Spirit) so that we are flexible, malleable, shapeable. Only then can He do the work he wants to do and shape us into the thing He wants us to be.
As I said earlier, either a thing breaks on it’s own or external forces cause it to break. What is breaking you? Finances? Others people or circumstances not living up to your expectations? Your spouse or kids? Your job? Your church? Is Jesus breaking you? When David did all that stuff with Bathsheba, God gave David time to bring himself to God in order to fix the damage that had been done. David didn’t do it on his own, so God broke David Himself.
What is keeping you from living in brokenness, from taking the broken pieces of your heart, spirit, and life to the Father, the Master Potter? Have you just learned to live with it like I do with the noise in my car? Do you not want to go through the time, effort, or personal expense that might be involved to deal with it? Are you afraid that the final result that God has in mind isn’t what you have in mind?
Let me ask this; do you have intimacy with the Lord? If you don’t I’m going to suggest that it’s because you don’t life in a state of brokenness before Him. Without brokenness there is no intimacy. You Daddy is waiting to take your pieces, fix you up, and use you for what He has in mind. He’s also waiting for that “thank you” hug, that intimacy that is the result of openness, honesty, and humility. Then, do the same thing with those whom you feel are causing your life to be broken. Be broken before them. See what happens.
If you aren’t sure where to begin with all of this, let me make a suggestion. Open your Bible to Psalm 51 and pray it as though it was your own prayer. Don’t pray it with your head, don’t do it as a mental exercise, do it from your heart. The spinning wheel is ready. The Lord has a bucket of the Spirit ready to mix into the dust of your heart and spirit in order to make you into something new. The only thing you have to lose is stuff that’s already broken anyway.