All We Really Have is Our Brokenness
As parents of preteens or teens, there rarely is enough personal experience, wisdom or knowledge to arm ourselves, if you're like most parents... you're struggling with the confidence to raise them up “right”... in the process it's common for some of us to loose what's left of our reserves of strength and we simply find ourselves at a dead end, out of options, answers or advice for our kids. It’s kinda scary.
Our kids after all are not living in the world we grew up in. They are walking directly into uncharted cultural territory... a value system that is sliding into a vast pit of moral relativism, global green movements, same-sex politics, right to choose, instant communication and entertainment addictions, more than 50 percent of kids live in a single parent family, confusing sexual and basic identity isssues and to top it all off a skeptical and atheistic educational model... it’s enough to make a Christian parent's head explode.
Add to that the pressures of providing for our families, economic turbulence, evaporating 401(k)s, 10 percent-plus unemployment, record home foreclosures, shrinking budgets and a migraine of other problems are constantly showing up in our proverbial “in-boxes” every day.
Parents today are scrambling to find enough time just for themselves, let alone their kids or all the other really important people in their lives. Spouses are weary, so tired they have little or no time to invest with each other, not to mention help their kids eat, bathe and get their homework done and in bed at a decent hour. Life is piling up on us, little by little, one pound at a time until we find ourselves suddenly lost, “BURIED” by all of its relentless demands for our time, our energy and our attention. We feel like something inside is broken, and we can’t fix it.
Despite the lack of evidence some days, God is very much alive and active in our world. It’s all in how we perceive Him and ourselves in the story of our lives. If we forget that God is the author of all life and the source of love and our ultimate hope, we will be tempted to believe that it’s all up to us. After all, isn’t that what it means to survive ?
We tell ourselves... since God hasn’t answered my prayer for relief, then I guess... If I’m going to make it through this divorce, this cancer, this job loss, this broken relationship... “I’ll have to just make it work on my own.” We grab ahold of the reins once again to steer our own path forward, and we keep a glimmer of faith alive inside, hopeful to someday see how God made it all “work out to our good”, but deep down we’re not buying it. We’re convinced we are truly and really ALL ALONE in this unjust and unfamiliar world we’re trying to raise our families in.
Stop. Seriously... STOP!
Remember what Jesus said to His disciples... “To find your life you must lose it“... “I came not to be served, but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many“... “take up your cross and follow me“... Paul said, “in my weakness, His strength is made perfect“.
Moses wasn’t the leader of God’s nation until he completed a 40-year PhD of insignificance in the wilderness school of life. Paul the Apostle was beaten over and over, half drowned, stoned, ridiculed, rejected and spit on more times than we can imagine, for even suggesting that Jesus could be the Messiah, that He might still actually be alive.
Why would anyone endure such a life and ask others to do the same? I believe its due in part because they admitted they were broken, that they couldn’t figure it all out, so they gave up on their lives. They surrendered it all to God and let Him lead. Not out of guilt or desperation or fear, but out of Love and complete confidence that their faith was not misplaced, or foolish, but safe in the truth of Jesus.
My dear comrade Brian repeated something his Bishop shared in a leadership retreat... “Pastors, Remember all we really have going for us is our brokenness”. I was at first puzzled by its meaning, but as this year has progressed... I’ve discovered some rich and encouraging purpose from that phrase. It’s really a beautiful thing to keep with you each day.
“God, forgive us for thinking we are supposed to sort this all out, forgive us for our presumptions, assumptions and assertions that we know what to do with our homes, our marriages, our kids and our work. Help us to walk in a spirit of humility and confidence that you will never leave us or forsake us. Remind us of your love, your faith and your hope that’s available for us to live from and out of as followers of Jesus. We accept that we’re weak and empty apart from you, so please Lord fill us anew this DAY”.
When I stop and pray a prayer like this before my day gets out of control, in the shower, in the car on the way to work, on my way home to lead a weekly home group, or sunday mornings before preaching a sermon... and Especially when I need to give my teen daughters or son some wise advice or counsel... it's AMAZING how much GOD shows up, and how things change around me... for the better.
Admit your helplessness, admit your weakness, admit your brokenness and simply ask for God’s spirit to lead you in every aspect of your life. Turn off your brain for a sec and let your heart hear the voice of God whispering to you which steps to take today. Trust me, it will change your life. Burdens do get lighter, loads do get easier to bear and hope starts to bloom around you. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest..." (Matthew 11:28, NLT).
“Be of good cheer”, “fear not”, “take courage”, “stand firm”, “watch and wait and see the salvation of the Lord”. These are famous phrases of repeated encouragement from dozens of men and women across the landscape of a hundred cultures and races and circumstances detailed in the sacred scriptures. Words of faith that span more than two thousand years of history.
Its my firm conviction that if you take time to be in the word of God regularly, you will find it rebuilds strength and ignites renewed faith and offers wisdom to guide all of us and our families through a lifetime of struggles and triumphs.
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