Broken I May Be

My daughter is going to kill me for this but I just have to comment … Tanisha has a boyfriend.  The boy (notice I said boy, we dads will always consider any suitors “boys” until they prove their manhood … just say’n) is a Christian and seems to have a good character, so, I guess I am good with it.  As a father, I am very protective of my little girl (notice I said little girl, she will never outgrow that place in Danae’ and my life, sorry ;).  May God help any boy who breaks her heart!  You know, I really don’t want my little girl to hurt.  Unfortunately, that is not a practical view to have because with heartache also comes growth.  In fact, we cannot experience true growth without a little adversity in our lives. 

In the Bible we read of many who were “broken” by God.  A prime example is the Apostle Paul.  In Acts 9 we read about Paul’s life changing moment of brokenness and how it forever redirected his life.

Acts 9:1–6
[1] But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest [2] and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. [3] Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. [4] And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  [5] And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. [6] But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."

When Paul recounted this moment in Acts 26:12–18, he added something else Jesus said in between those two phrases: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” (Acts 26:14).
A goad is a sharpened stick that is jabbed into the back of an ox’s leg, and naturally the ox often kicks against it.  What this scripture is trying to say is that there was something going on in Saul’s life, something that Jesus was doing to get his attention, which Saul was fighting against,  and so much so that Paul became overzealous about persecuting people of the “Way.”  What had been prodding against Saul? Perhaps it was the death of Stephen or unanswered questions about Jesus that didn't make sense to him. These “goads” were bothering Saul, wounding him, so he was kicking against them. As we see from the scripture, Jesus did more than just goad him, Jesus “broke” Saul. 

Many times the only way that our Lord can get our attention is to “break” us.  We often have a life so full of “stuff” like our jobs, our social lives, and even our families that we lose sight of God.  Thus, God has to get our attention by stopping us in our tracks and “breaking” us. 
C. S. Lewis was an atheist literature professor at Oxford when he became a Christian. One of the things he wrote about after his conversion was how he could see that God had been pursuing him the whole time. And sometimes those times were really painful.  He called himself “the most dejected, reluctant convert in all of England… drug into the kingdom kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape.”

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, from the Chronicles of Narnia series, Lewis tells a story about Eustace, a young boy who has developed an evil heart and became a dragon. He wanted to escape his life as a dragon, so Aslan, the Lion who represents Jesus, leads him to a fountain of pure water  in which Eustace can bathe. Lewis wrote the scene in the book in Eustace’s voice, but literary scholars say this is Lewis talking about his own experience.

"The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain. But the lion [Aslan] told me I must undress first. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe. But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that (the skin on my feet was) all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as it had been before."

Eustace repeats t the process a second and third time, growing increasingly in despairing.

"Then the lion said, ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly--‐looking than the others had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again.”

In order to strip us of the “things” that are holding us back from doing God’s will, the Lord must “break” us.  In fact, Jesus is ripping away skin from you and prodding you to make changes in your life.  Yes, it’s painful, but it’s not punishment! God doesn't hate you; he loves you. J.D. Greear puts it this way, "It’s not retribution; it’s restoration." Are you feeling these goads? Is God blinding you and breaking you? Are you listening? Don’t lose sight of God’s plan for your life!

​In Him,
Pastor Boyd

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