Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brokenness

Have you ever felt completely broken?  I sure have.  It is a deep, aching sadness that is hard to explain.  It feels like I've hit the bottom - or worse yet, that the bottom I hit drops out and I realize there's more depth and falling to come.  Sometimes it feels dark and lonely and other times it feels desperate and out of control.  No matter how it feels, though, it's real and it's a feeling we all experience at one time or another in our lives.

Maybe it's the death of a loved one that brings it on.  It could also be the death of a dream, a relationship gone sour, a deep hurt from someone you love, a hurting or sick child or a burden for people you want to help but you don't know how.  Maybe it's your pride that's been broken or a broken heart.  You know the feeling of brokenness I'm speaking of today.  You've felt it - we all have.  But what do we do with it and how can we come out of it?

Driving down the road the other day, I heard a preacher on the radio talking about the sower and the seed from Luke chapter 8:5-8.  As he spoke, he was reading the scriptures and I was praying God would help me understand them on a deeper level.  I'd been experiencing some brokenness in my own life due to some relationship issues and I really needed to hear from God.  The preacher read these words that Jesus spoke:

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown."  When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
As I heard this nameless preacher talk about these verses, something really struck me.  We know the seed represents the Word of God - and the first person His Word came to was like a hardened path.  It was referred to as "fallow ground", which means it had been trampled on, stepped on, abused and hardened over time.  It was a path that had been walked on so much that it was hard like concrete.  Does this sound familiar?  Is that how you might feel?  Stepped on, abused or hardened by the world?   Well, if this describes you, please know that things are not hopeless.  And know that you are not alone!

In Jeremiah 4:3, the Lord tells the people to "break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns."  And in Hosea 10:12 the Lord says "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you."

Notice, it is possible for us to break up the "unplowed" or "fallowed" ground that has been trampled on, stepped on and abused by the world.  Once the soil of our hearts is broken up, the seeds of righteousness can be planted deep within us!  They will produce fruit.  But in order to break it, we must be ok with being broken.  This lands me back to the point of my blog.  This may describe where you are right now - and you are fighting it with everything in you.  No one likes to feel broken.  In the world, brokenness represents a fault, something that is returned or discarded.  But to God, brokenness is something altogether different.  Check this out...

Psalm 51:17 "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Psalm 34:17-18 "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Psalm 147:3 "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."

Isaiah 61:1-3 (prophecy concerning Jesus Christ) "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor."

I could go on and show you more about how God feels about the brokenhearted...but I think you get the picture.  He is drawn to those who are low in spirit, brokenhearted and humble.  The crushing of our pride and our self-sufficiency is a terrifying thing unless we realize that we are trading in something weak for something much stronger - sufficiency in Him.

My encouragement to you today is this:  If you are feeling broken, allow God to plant those seeds deep within you.  It can be a painful process (I know this from experience), but the hope I want to remind you of is the hope He gives you in His word by reminding you that you are not alone, you are not going through this despair for no reason and, in the words of the prophet Isaiah..."you will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor."

He will display His splendor in you.  But brokenness always precedes usefulness with God.  There is always purpose that we cannot fathom in our pain. Trust Him.  The seeds are coming and the fruit will follow.

4 comments:

Lisa D Williams said...

Leslie,

Thank you for being so transparent through Facebook. I enjoy your blog, your posts and your encouragement that you give through this wonderful thing called Social Media. I know many have been changed and encouraged by your posts, and many seeds have been planted. I only wish I knew you personally, as I feel you probably have a lot for me to learn from.
May you and your family including the puppies have a very Merry Christmas,

Lisa D. Williams
Fort Mill SC

Leslie Nease said...

Hey Lisa! Thank you so much for your encouragement. :) I think we could all learn so much from each other!

Blessings to you!
Leslie

Anonymous said...

Leslie,
I hit the trifeckta of brokenness today and really can relate to this blog, so thank you. I can only ask that God help me overcome my unbelief. Today is the day I hope I've hit the "real" bottom and that God in His Glory will use me in such a way that there is no doubt of His Power and Majesty.

In this the season of His birth, I wish you peace and joy.

Leslie Nease said...

Praying you will see His power and majesty in your life today! Thank you for your transparency. May God bless you as you strive to honor Him in your brokenness! xo

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