Sunday, July 27, 2008

More on Brokenness

I have said it many times before and written about it specifically more than once: I am a big fan of brokenness. That's really odd isn't it? Who wants to be broken? There is a verse in a song that says,

Brokenness, brokenness is what I long for

Brokenness is what I need
Brokenness, brokenness is what you want from me

I like that song a lot. Jesus won our freedom on the Cross. It was in His brokenness that He found the victory. Now most of us spend the majority of our prayer lives pleading with God not to allow brokenness in our lives. Well, it isn't fun is it? But is 'fun' what we are about? If it is then we have definitely picked the wrong God. Fun in the sense of life is like a trip to Disneyland is not what is going to happen if you are faithful to the true Lord of All Creation. But before you panic let me show you what you will find if you follow the in the Way of the Cross.

Our missionary career began like few ever have. We moved to Middle Earth in 1996 and began trying to figure out how to get to Gondor. We had no workers in Gondor and our organization was intent on reaching 'All Peoples, Nothing Less'. The year after we moved there all the workers in Mordor were forced to leave. So, we moved into Gondor from Rohan and in the next year registered a disaster relief organization. In 1998 we went south into Mordor, responded to a huge earthquake crisis there and reestablished work in that country. In 1999 we saw a small church start and in the Spring of that year before I went on my first home-leave we baptized 14 people. All this in a Muslim country that had just come out of a brutal civil war and was still a very dangerous and violent place. It was awesome and we expected that in year 2000 we would return to more and more victories.

In year 2000 I came back to some irritating news. Other families joined us but they would not be on MY team. My boss decided that Mordor was not MY responsibility and he gave supervision of the new office and personnel there to someone else. There were no disasters in early 2000 and we all sat around wondering what God was up to. Why were we not making a difference in other peoples lives. One of the families decided to move to another city and set up another team. The other family on our team became increasingly contentious and decided that they would not support our disaster work anymore. They went out and did there own projects. I was reeling. MY self esteem was in the toilet. Everything I had built up had fallen apart. I went to a conference in 2002 and I learned that most of my problems were due to my lack of organizational skills. I was a terrible administrator and no one on the team felt called to step in and help. I got some books, cleared off my desk and got to work making sense out of my life and work. At the same time I thought I would now be able to pull my wandering team mates back in. I went to them several times and talked about new vision and new organization. They were unmoved. I kept hearing that they were talking bad about me and that they were unhappy with me. I went to them to confront them over their unbiblical behavior. I sat down and confronted them in one of the most painful meetings I have ever had. I laid out for them all the ways they were wronging me and they looked sheepish and would not reply. Then I pressed forward and demanded an answer and they gave one. It was me. I had betrayed their trust on more than one occasion. I had let confidences slip too often and I had not protected their reputations. It was me. I wept openly. I went away and prayed about it. I came back and talked to them again confessing my sin and weeping tears of bitter repentance. I wish I could say that our relationship was restored. They said they forgave me but our relationship was never the same. They left six months later and went to work in some new opportunities in Mordor.

I went on home-leave again in 2002. Arwen and I wondered what we would share in the churches we spoke in! Where were all the great stories of what God had done. We had not seen anything. Well, God is good and there were a couple of neat things that happened and we made the most of it telling others about what God had done in some friends lives. But we were empty. I stayed on my face before God all winter. I was like a zombie walking around with nothing inside. All the I's, MY's, and ME's had built up until the scales tipped and the story of my life collapsed like a house of cards. But in the early Spring of 2003 God began to speak to me in a still and very quiet voice. He was not through with me. There was more to do and I was going to go back and do it. He called me to put together a national team of guys who would work with me in Disaster Management. That team has seen villages changed, men and women come to faith, and faithful churches begun. There is no I, ME, or MY in any of it. Just God working in us and through us to make a difference in others lives. I never could be a witness to 2003 if I had not gone through 2002.

Brokenness, brokenness is what I long for. Brokenness is what I need. Brokenness is what He wants from me. And in return I get to witness the Kingdom of God being established in places you can not imagine. That beats the snot out of Disneyland any day.

7 comments:

GuyMuse said...

Another great post. How I wish we could have sat down together sometime this summer and swapped stories like the ones you share above. Brokenness is indeed what He wants from us.

Tim Patterson said...

Strider,

Thanks for sharing this part of your story. I can identify with you. I have experienced repeated seasons of brokeness... ugh! Not fun... but necessary if we want to abide in Him.
The Lord tells us in Is. 57:
"I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite (broken) and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite (broken)."

debbiekaufman said...

Strider: I am so glad you wrote this and with such honesty. I too am a fan of brokenness in my life. It brings me that much closer to sanctification and it's usually things that I think I have a handle on. It also let's me know that God hasn't given up on me. The Bible tells us this, but to actually experience it, even though it hurts like crazy, is wonderful

From a woman's point of view it's the same as the pain from childbirth, it's excruciating, yet knowing what will come at the end of it makes it the most wonderful pain in the world.

Strider said...

Thanks all for good comments. I am hopeful to put up an encouraging post soon.
But I think I have more broken posts than victorious posts.

BKC said...

Maybe you're just defining "victorious" incorrectly :)

Anonymous said...

Strider,

You have got to be kidding me??? I read something you wrote on a blogger and you compared us (the US) to Stalin and Hitler. GIVE ME A BREAK! Are you nuts? I cannot believe that you would write such crap. I pray that your comments are based out of ignorance because you have't read of the attrocities committed by those demons. At least it might be excuseable. But it is stuppid comments like that that get in the way of true helpful dialogue.

A brother in Christ

Strider said...

Anon, I don't know if you will come back and read this but I thought I would respond.
I am not sure what you are referring to since you are obviously not referring to anything in this post. But I do have a very strong view of of our nation's use of torture. It is a betrayal of our American values. It is in opposition to Christ's commands. America and our leaders are not like Stalin and Hitler. This is clear. I am just saying that it is the height of hypocrisy to condemn Cuba for human rights violations and then take our own prisoners there so we can torture them illegally.
By the way, those men are not demons but they are very likely demonically oppressed. This is a very good reason not to behave like them.