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"Bring Christ Your Broken Life"

Jim Davis

There is an old saying that I have always liked, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Many times we have set out to make something that is working, work a little better, only to end up breaking it where it won't work at all. This is where the saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" originated. We may spend our lives trying to fix what is not broken. We must remember "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Yet, when our lives are broken, they need fixing. Too often, when something is broken, we spend all our time trying to figure out why it is broken. We have a natural curiosity to know the "Why?" behind what is happening to us. We ask questions like, "If God is an all good God, why is our world broken?" The most difficult thing to understand in life is why pain, problems and suffering are a part of it. If we are not careful, contemplating "Why?", will leave us bitter and cynical. Spending all our time philosophizing about why our world is broken does little to mend our broken lives. Job's friends came to him and began contemplating the reason for Job's suffering, but that only made his difficulties more agonizing. Job's wife was agonizing as she exclaimed, "Curse God and die!" When God finally spoke to Job, he revealed that Job didn't need to know the "Why." Even if God were to explain the "Why", Job couldn't have understood it.

There is a song titled "Bring Christ Your Broken Life."
"Bring Christ your broken life, So marred by sin,
He will create anew, Make whole again;
Your empty, wasted years, He will restore,
And your iniquities Remember no more."
Bring Christ Your Broken Life"

The beauty of the Bible is seen in God's overwhelming joy in salvaging our broken lives. Ultimately sin is to blame for all life's brokenness. The beauty of the Bible is that God teaches us how to get on with a broken life. God teaches us how to turn our defeat into victory through divine healing. The greatest demonstration of God's power throughout the Scriptures is how God salvages broken helpless lives. God's power for healing is unbelievable and this is the reoccurring story throughout redemption history.

Psalms 51:16-17
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (NIV)

Psalms 34:18-22
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;

he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him. (NIV)

Psalms 147:3-4
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. (NIV)

Our greatest need is to realize our need of God's healing. Jesus came to heal our broken lives.

Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19 NIV)

When life isn't working, we try to fix it, we try to "fake it till we make it", or we dwell on why it is broken. In John chapter 9, we find a man born blind. The religious folks were contemplating why he was born blind. Was it his sins or his parents sins that caused him to be born blind? Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (John 9:3-5 NIV)

It is never too late to find God's healing for our brokenness. God desperately wants to work his work in each of our lives even if we believe it is too late. Samson found healing at the end of a wasted life. Manasseh found healing after filling Jerusalem with innocent blood in rebellion to God's ordinances. (2 Chronicles 33:9-16) A thief found healing as he was dying on a cross with Jesus Christ.

What Causes A Broken Life?

Brokenness occurs when we try to live life on our terms and come up empty. The Bible is full of examples of broken lives. They are broken because they tried to follow God while they lived their lives according to their own plans.

Abraham was called by God, yet, he tried to live life on his own terms for the next forty years. He had his own survival plan all worked out. Notice what Abraham told Abimelech after lying about Sarah being his sister.

Genesis 20:10-13
And Abimelech asked Abraham, "What was your reason for doing this?" Abraham replied, "I said to myself, 'There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.' Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. And when God had me wander from my father's household, I said to her, 'This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, "He is my brother." '" (NIV)

Abraham came up short numerous times. He tried to fix life's problems without God's help. During all his wandering, he was trusting in his own plan for safety. He lied about Sarah being his wife on at least two occasions. He had a child by his wife's servant. God finally gave Abraham a son and then asked him to sacrifice. It was at this point in Abraham's journey with God that Abraham finally said, "The Lord will provide." But Abraham didn't learn to trust God until he was completely broken by his self-willed life. After God substituted the lamb for the sacrifice of Abraham's son, Abraham called God "Jehovah-jireh", in Hebrew this means God will provide. But Abraham couldn't see this until all of his own plans were shattered.

Shattered dreams and broken lives empower us to see what is wrong with our lives as we gain new insight into ourselves. It is when our plans fail and our dreams are shattered that we begin to see what is not right with our lives. It is then, we are convicted of our own sinful stubborn self-willed lives. It is then, we realize our insensitivity to God.

Jacob knew God's plan to fulfill God's promise to Abraham's descendants through his descendants. He knew he was the one God had chosen to keep the dream alive. He was constantly reminded of this by his mother. So Jacob set out to make it happen. To make it happen, he cheated his twin brother Esau out of his birthright . He ended up fleeing for his life with nothing but the clothes on his back and a stone for a pillow.

It was in his brokenness that God appeared to him and reaffirmed the promise to Abraham to him.

Gen 28:10-22
Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth." (NIV)

Even though the covenant is made, Jacob spent over twenty years living life according to his own plans. He spent over twenty years of his life cheating and being cheated. Again he was forced to flee for his life, only to find himself coming face to face with the problems he had fled over twenty years prior. Finally, he had to face his brother whom he had cheated out of his birthright.

It was there at Peniel that Jacob had his last wrestling match with God and won. It was there at the end of the road that Jacob realized that all his plans were hopeless without the blessings of God. He refused to relinquish his grip on God until God blessed him. It was there that he finally understood his need of God's help and blessing.

Attitude is Important

As we deal with our brokenness, attitude is all important. Self-esteem is an attitude toward self. Love is our attitude toward others. Faith is your attitude toward God. Hope is your attitude toward the future. Forgiveness is your attitude toward the past. Everything revolves around attitude.

Attitude is our most valuable asset when our dreams are shattered and lives are broken. Attitude determines whether we become bitter or better. If we rebel against life's problems we end up cynically bitter and brittle. If we fail to respond properly in times of brokenness our emotional wounds will fester and the hurt will multiply. If we repress the pain it will resurface through anger, guilt or misbehavior.

The wonderful thing about all this is that attitude is a choice made by each of us. We have the God-given ability to choose our response. We have the ability to make a choice for the greatest outcome. It is the attitude we choose toward life and in times of shattered dreams that create our greatest possibilities.

James 1:2-5
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (NIV)

Adversity test our attitudes toward life and God. If we choose anger and avoid personal responsibility our wounds will not heal. We may lick our wounds and hide them from others, but our wounds will not heal until we make the proper spiritual response to God.

The most difficult thing to understand is why pain, problems and suffering are a part of life. If we are not careful, life's pain and suffering will make us bitter. Whatever the reason for pain and suffering, remember that God can use it for our greatest good. This is the major way God demonstrates his ultimate power over sin. He can use it to our good and his glory. But our attitudes must remain flexible enough to receive God's will.

Most personal growth takes place in times of affliction. Some lessons can only be learned by loss. During adverse times our difficulties introduce us to ourselves. Adversity provides the pop quizzes of life to show what we are made of. A proper attitude will allow God to enter our shattered world to begin the process rebuilding and restoring our lives.

Recognizing Our Brokenness

Confession is an important part of recognizing our brokenness. On Pentecost the Jews "were cut to the heart" as they recognized their brokenness. They cried out, "what shall we do." They recognized their brokenness and claimed responsibility.

Failing to claim responsibility for our broken lives only brings misery. We may want to excuse our responsibility by saying, "I haven't done any worse than anyone else." We tend to excuse ourselves because everyone else is doing it; we rationalize about our sin. But until we recognize our sin as part of the dilemma, our misery will continue.

Sometimes we make apologies sound like justification rather than confession. We may say, "That person brings out the worst in me!" But if the worst wasn't in me, no one could bring it out.

As long as we blame others we remain the same. Adam said, "The woman you put here with me-- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." (Genesis 3:12 NIV) Blame focuses my problem on someone else and refuses to look at myself. We say, "After all that is the way God made me."

Confession halts denial. Until we claim responsibility for our broken world, we will never gain the insight needed for beginning a new life. When we claim responsibility through confession we gain insight to what we have done wrong and are able to make proper adjustment for a better life according to God's direction. "No broken world ever begins to be rebuilt until this moment of insight is initiated. And the longer it takes to reach that moment, the more difficult it will be to rebuild a broken world and minimize the consequences." 1

Isaiah discovered a new life through his brokenness as he cried out "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:5-8 NIV)

Confession is of little value without repentance. In our modern world we can confess our sin, recognize our responsibility and still not repent. Confession brings us to admitting the sin and calling it what it is, but it is repentance that determines that I am not going to continue to make the same mistakes. Repentance is the distinctive quality that determines I don't want to be a repeat offender. Repentance is where we turn our lives around. "The freest person in the world is one with an open heart, a broken spirit, and a new direction in which to travel." 2 It is repentance that gives us a new direction to travel.

Rather than repent, we often just fill our lives with hectic activity as we leave our lives empty of God. We deceive ourselves into believing that busyness is the same thing as repentance. But our busyness prevents us from slowing down and reflecting properly on what is wrong. Instead of spinning our wheels faster, we must stop and see if something else needs to be done.

Often when life is broken, we just work harder on our own to try to fix it. You may see the difficulty, feel the pain and sense the need to reevaluate things, but instead you choose to just try harder the next time around. The difficulty with this type of thinking is that we will just keep going around, around and around because we are unwilling to face our difficulties and respond to them correctly. Until we respond correctly we cannot confess or repent.

We want to fix life own our own terms. We are like Abraham and Jacob, we try working longer, harder, better and try to be more ingenious so we can fix our problems ourselves. We want to maintain control of our own lives. We want to be god of our own lives.

Psalms 127:1-2
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it, . . .
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For as He gives His beloved sleep.

Conclusion:

When troubles come and go, and then come full circle to slap us in the face again and again, it is usually because we have failed to learn what we needed to learn to take life to the next level. We have tried to manhandle our lives.

There is a particular monkey that is trapped by drilling a hole in a gourd. The hole is made just big enough for the monkey to get his hand through. Then fruits and goodies are placed inside the gourd. The monkey reaches her hand inside and grabs a handful of goodies, but she cannot withdraw her hand with a handful of goodies. Rather than releasing her grip on the goodies, she chooses to be caught.

Many of us react to life in the same manner. We hold onto our old lifestyles and find it impossible to have a new lease on life.
 

1. Gordon McDonald, Rebuilding Your Broken World, (Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 64.)

2. Ibid. pg 153

3. Allan Nelson book, Broken In The Right Place, is an excellent book on brokeness. The concepts in this sermon were gleaned from his book.

4. Allan Nelson, Broken In The Right Place, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1994.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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