Have you ever been desperate?
I am talking about hitting rock bottom.
The situation was such you didn’t know what do. You were empty and anxious. You were tired and weak. Your resources were spent. You were broken. You needed help.
Brokenness hurts, and most of us would rather live without any seasons of discomfort. Yet I have found during such times God often does His greatest work in my life, reshaping and realigning me for His divine purposes.
Jesus illustrated the principle of brokenness by comparing our lives to a single grain of wheat. “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity” (John 12:24, 25 NLT).
If you hold a seed in your hand, nothing will happen. If you carefully place it in a jar or on a shelf for safekeeping, it will just sit there indefinitely. In its safety, the grain will essentially be useless.
However, if that seed is planted in the soil where its protective layer is stripped away, something amazing happens. Before long, a little sprout will emerge from the earth and start to grow into something different, useful, and beautiful. Soon the new plant will produce more seeds that can be planted, and the stalks they produce will do the same. It’s an amazing cycle of life and transformation.
I have discovered over the years that the Christian life is more about becoming rather than doing. Thus, I have slowly changed my perspective about the heartaches I have experienced in my lifetime. I have begun to see that my difficulties have been the means by which God uses to strip me of things that are obstacles to my spiritual growth and effectiveness in bringing Him glory.
You see God doesn’t want to be Lord of most of our lives; He wants to be Lord of all of our lives! So He zeroes in on areas of self-will and self-sufficiency to eliminate everything that is relying on “self.” He uses my brokenness to remove those predispositions so I can live moment by moment, day by day, in full dependence on Him.
Dependence on God is one of IDES’ core values. I frequently heard our founder, Milton Bates, quote the following verses from John 15. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NLT). Jesus is the vine from which true life is received. Jesus meant to illustrate the wonderful truth that when we are united with him we are one with him, we are identified with him. Wayne Jacobsen in his book, “In My Father’s Vineyard” made this observation, “When you look at a grape vine, you will notice that there is not much difference between the vine and the branches. The same rough, flaky bark that starts just above the ground continues up the twisted trunk to where it separates into rough arms and on top to where the slender, flexible canes emerge. Jesus could not have chosen a better illustration of the intimate bond he seeks with his followers. He wants us to identify so closely with him that others cannot tell where he leaves off and where we begin.”
But, no branch has any life in itself; only the Vine does. A branch depends on the vine for life and productivity. The branch will bear fruit, but it must be connected to the vine in order to do so.
My brokenness and weakness draws me to the source of life. The more I lose my identity in Christ the greater impact is made for Him in drawing others to Him. He must increase and I must decease in order for the Kingdom of God to grow in me and around me.
It doesn’t make sense to the world, but dying to self leads to life. Surrender leads to freedom. Dependence leads to power.
Jesus did not just teach this lesson; He lived it. By sacrificing Himself, He was broken and placed in the ground. New life for all of us came from that brokenness. From that one “grain” countless new believers, each with a new life, have sprung forth.
Are you feeling broken today? God has certainly not abandoned you; instead, “humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you” (I Peter 5:6, 7 NLT). Remember the principle of the life-giving seed. God might be leading you into a new season of growth.
-written by Rick Jett, Executive Director at IDES