Thursday, May 20, 2010

From Broken to Redeemed

The topic of brokenness and redemption has been on my heart for quite a while and I have been looking for an opportunity to write about it but not finding any free time to put down my thoughts. As it is with everything else, finding free time never happens so you have to MAKE time to do it. Kinda like looking for free cookies in an empty cookie jar. Someone has to make the cookies. All those good intentions never seem to work themselves out, you have to do the work of creating, for the intentions to become something worthwhile. Of course, that is another topic so I won't go into that right now.

This article is just a whole lot of what I have gone through in my life and some observation of these qualities in the lives of other people I know. I feel qualified to write about it because I have had a lot of personal opportunities for God to break me; caused by a lot of stubbornness and rebellion on my part. It takes qualities of rebellion and stubbornness to bring about the work involved in breaking one who exhibits those traits. I must say without reservation that I certainly fit that bill.

When I think of the word "brokenness", I instinctively think about horses, cowboys and a dusty corral where there is this loud whinnying sound of a crazy wild horse, running and snorting, hoof stomping and the flailing of front legs in the air as a determined cowboy hangs on for dear life, digging his spurs into the tender sides of the horse he is breaking. It may not be the exact same picture of breaking the will of a human being but it's close enough for me to look at. I represents the basic actions that happen.

I guess there is this thing inside of me that just wants it's own way. We will call that the natural, selfish nature. It is the quality that makes us stand up and resist what others want us to do. It is that part of us that insist on doing what we want, when we want. It is the nature of fallen man without the control of God working in his life. It is the imagination of a person believing he can do everything necessary for life by himself and without the interference of help of anyone else. It is the "I" of a person that needs to be fed with things that build up that independent spirit.

The independent and self-willed person that I am lives in unreality since there is no way to exist as that person without having to deal with the inevitability of facing God. God has to be in control of the reality of my life for me to be redeemed and saved. There just is no other way for that to happen. And before I can be redeemed and saved I have to be broken.

I have this coffee cup I got from an underground christian coffee house in South Dakota. It is a special cup as it has my name on it. It is a large black cup with a picture of a flame on it, representing the Holy Spirit and also the name of the coffee house. It represents to me a time in my life when I was first introduced to God and performed music in the old and original place called "The Firehouse". The new place is in the basement of a large downtown office building and they sell these cups as a fund raising venture to help promote and support their operations. So when we were last there I bought 10 of them and gave them to friends back home in the village.

Well, anyway, this cup of mine turned up with a broken handle and of course now it is difficult to drink out of it simply because there is nothing to hang onto. You can hold the cup in your hands and sip from it like a bowl but it just isn't the same. I know that super glue is not going to fix this one because it has a porous material inside and it just comes apart first time pressure is applied. So I grab the gorilla glue and get it done. Now my cup has this distinctive yellow rings in four places on the handle which clearly indicates it has been broken and repaired by a very unprofessional repair person. Oh well. It works.

Then I start looking at the cup and God shows me that I am a lot like this cup of mine. I've been broken like my coffee cup many times until I look all patched together and not like a well refined and carefully crafted coffee cup. The name on the cup is almost worn off. Which makes it hard to identify whose cup it is.

This cup is such a picture of God and us. How we are this picture of a finely crafted, man made person with our fancy logos and shiny perfect surfaces. Lots of oooo's and aaaahhh's. Admiration and warm fuzzy's all over. Something to be talked about, shown off and presented for our own glory. "Look what I have done!" or "Look what I got!"

And then God gets hold of us. All of a sudden the gloss and the logo starts to fade. We are broken and mended many times. And then our name starts to wear off until we have no name, no glory, no presentation or representation of our own. The broken parts are now scared and we don't look as pretty as we used to. There are chips and nick's, scratches and stains. We are broken over and over again until there is nothing left of us there except the patched pieces of who we used to be. Now we have a different identity and are an everyday cup to be used for everyday things. We are useful but not of ourselves. God has redeemed us into vessels for himself. Vessels that serve his use and purpose.

I have other cups much like this one. They have held many things other than coffee.. Not just the liquid they were originally intended to hold but they have given rest to many other things and liquids. They have been used and worn. They have traveled many places and seen lots of sights. They have been used by many other people. They have heard many conversations and been involved in many expressions of the hands, face and lips. They have been washed and dried innumerable times. But they are are useful vessels for my use. God uses us like that, too.

Let's think about ourselves as the broken and redeemed of God. Broken with Christ by sin. Broken by Gods hand from ourselves and the ways of the world. Broken from misuse and rough handling through the purposes of our own. Broken so we can come to the end of ourselves. But not to stay broken. Broken so we can be redeemed for God's use. Purposed to be useful in his hands. Finding rest in being common vessels given unto glorifying God through the use He purposes in us. Yes, we may have many scars but we are beautiful and precious in his sight and by his standards. We are his. We belong to him and him alone.