I recently visited Hearst Castle on the northern coast of California. What an example of man’s extravagance! High up on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it was beautiful!
On the tour we were in the library when our guide pointed to a table not far from us with a beautiful round alabaster vase sitting on it. She then told us that she was in that very room standing where she was at that moment when the 2003 San Simeon earthquake hit. Unable to do anything she watched that very expensive vase roll onto the floor and shatter into thousands of tiny pieces.
Broken. Shattered. Ugly. Useless.
I doubt many of us like broken things. Our society today tosses that which is broken. It’s easy to go buy something new again. I know I’ve tossed my share of broken toasters and blenders! It would have cost more to fix them than buy a new one.
However, God uses broken things and broken people! In fact He is “near” to those who have a broken heart.
First I want to look at nature … broken soil produces crops. The farmer or the person planting a garden has to first dig (break) a hole to put in the seed. Broken clouds produce rain. Broken grain produces bread. Broken bread produces strength as it is eaten.
Secondly, look at how the Spirit of God uses broken things. Mark 14:3-9 Jesus tells us that the woman who came to anoint Jesus “broke the alabaster box, and poured it on His head”. Jesus called it a “good work” and said that it would be a memorial! Without the breaking of the box the ointment would have remained in the box and we would not have the story today.
In Exodus 17:6 the Lord told Moses to take his rod with which he smote the river and to strike the rock and water would come forth. Water to quench the thirst of the Israelites in the desert.
Exodus 15:23-25 the broken tree which was cast into the bitter water made the water sweet to drink.
Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart” that means He cares, He’s holding us! He’s near! The verse continues that “He saves such as be of a contrite spirit” … brokenness produces humility in us.
Before Jesus gave of the fish and bread to the multitudes who were hungry He gave thanks, broke it and blessed it. It could not have been passed out to the crowd had it not been broken! (Matthew 14)
I Corinthians 11:24, “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me”
The broken body of Jesus produced an avenue for us to be made whole. His body was broken so that our brokenness could be made whole.
To become open we MUST be broken. We are useful to Him after we are broken. He does not discard broken people … He came to make us whole and useful for His purposes.
Remember the story of the potter in Jeremiah 18? The vessel was marred, scratched, unusable, ugly. “So he made it again another vessel …” To do that it had to be broken and squashed down and reshaped … but it became another vessel “as seemed good to the potter to make it.”
None of us like to be broken. It hurts. It’s humiliating! We want to believe that we can live the Christian life without going through the crisis that will break us. It happens in many forms … through choices that we make, with our spouses, our children, employment, disappointments … even other family members. How do we respond to these times?
Allow the brokenness to mellow our spirits, to conform us to His image, to seek Him to let Him make us whole again.
I’ve been there and He WAS there. Didn’t feel Him for a while but He was close. And He held me and made my vessel whole again.
In George O. Wood’s book, “A Psalm in Your Heart”, (Volume 1, Psalms 1-75) tells a story to illustrate Psalm 51:17, “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise”. Quoting from page 205, “In the marble yard of Florence, Italy, Michelangelo discovered the Duccio block: 17 feet long, with a serious gouge at its center. Other artists passed by it since any attempt to move the stone could split the block in two.
Michelangelo, however, moved the stone to his studio. He knew David lay within the Duccio block. Only a master artist could release that David from the unformed stone.
The human David also had a serious flaw which could have doomed him had anyone other than the Master worked on him. Psalm 51 tells us about the sin which almost wrecked him and instructs us by example how to repent for our own wrongs … (page 208) The flaw of sin will prove fatal unless I give permission for the Lord to create His life within me. The block of marble in the Florence quarry had no ability to choose a Michelangelo to work his genius upon it, but I do have a choice to ask the Lord to make a masterpiece of my life — to chisel and perfect His own image into the flawed raw material of my own being.”
Everyone is B-R-O-K-E-N … but Jesus can put you back together again and make you useful!
One sat alone beside the highway begging
His eyes were blind the light he could not see
He clutched his rags and shivered in the shadows
Then Jesus came and bid the darkness flee.
When Jesus comes, the tempters power is broken
When Jesus comes, all tears are wipes away
He takes the gloom and fills he life with glory
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.
Oh, and the alabaster vase at the Hearst Castle? The Getty Museum was able to put it back together (!) and you can hardly tell it was broken!