Brokenness doesn’t sound like a sweet subject to talk about, but it is very powerful. It is one of the greatest lessons you could ever learn if you want to be used by God.
To be “crushed” literally means to be shattered; to crumble and break into pieces. This brings to mind the words of Alan Redpath:
“When God wants to do an impossible task, he takes an impossible man, and crushes him.”
That’s just like God, isn’t it? But why? “That no flesh should glory in His presence.” – 1Cor 1:29.
Unbroken men are like unbroken horses. No one can ride them, and not even God can use such people. If He must ride, then such men must be broken first.
Where does God do this? In His university. Gene Edwards said, “God has a university. It’s a small school. Few enroll; even fewer ever graduate.” And A. W. Tozer said, “It is doubtful that God can use a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”
At this point, allow me to introduce a most unlikely candidate to you. He was born with a proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. For whatever reason, his dad just loved him so much he couldn’t conceal it. He even flaunted his affection for this well behaved young man, to the disgust of his other sons, creating a horrible sibling rivalry in the process.
But that wasn’t all. This young man was so spiritually insensitive, making certain outrageous claims as coming to him from God, that He was going to use him in such an incredible way – further making the hatred for him more severe.
By now you’ve probably guessed who I am talking about: Joseph, whom his brothers hated so severely. One fateful day–the day of his crushing–his father sent him on an errand to go and check how his brothers were doing in the field where they tended their flocks (Gen 37:14). His dad usually kept him by his own side at home while his brothers went to work: a clear sign of how dysfunctional this family was. But when he finally located his brothers, something incredible ensued. As they saw him from the distance approaching them, they began plotting his destruction.
“Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. Then they said to one another, “Look this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, “Some wild beast has devoured him. We shall see what will become of his dreams!” – Gen 37:18-20.
It took the intervention of Reuben to prevent him from being murdered outrightly. Of course, they stripped off his beautiful coat and threw him into the pit, which if you consider carefully, was the moment Joseph essentially died. It was the moment he was crushed savagely. Henceforth, everything else in this young man’s life was a bonus. Life itself, slavery, going to jail, etc. were all bonuses. He was already dead.
Judah, one of the brothers, saw this as a chance to make some money, and came up with the idea that of selling him to the Ishmaelites (Gen 37:25-28) for 20 shekels of silver. This was how Joseph landed in Egypt, a slave in Potiphar’s house and a dead man walking. So when he was tied up and threw him into jail, it was just a bonus. He was already a crushed man. When in the end his dreams came true, and his brothers expected him to exact his revenge, he didn’t need to. He knew something they didn’t know: It was God that used them to crush him and to prepare him for his assignment.
“But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here: for God sent me before you to preserve life.” – Gen 45:5.
Only a crushed man can see God at work even when his foes are at his mercy. Unless the wicked fleshly spirit within is broken, you will always want to get back your own pound of flesh. And until God perceives that that evil quality is dead–the desire for revenge, to argue your way out–you will be unusable to Him. May that old nature be crushed and shattered! John 12:24 puts it eloquently:
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
If God cannot crush you, you remain grossly unusable. This is perhaps one of the profoundest lessons you may ever be forced to discover, bitter as its pill may seem.
Have you had spears hurled at you? Have they said things about you that are not true? A test of your brokenness is in whether you want to defend yourself or fight back, because until you come to the end of yourself, God is not going to step in. Besides, you don’t really know whether perhaps He is using these folks to purify, perfect, crush, crucify you, so that in your resurrected form, you willl be exactly like Him.
This was the exact situation that the young handsome teenage David found himself. He wasn’t looking to do great things for God, but God urgently needed a replacement for the disobedient King Saul and sent Samuel to anoint David as king, with no fanfare. Afterwards, David went back to keep his father’s sheep.
When God has a job for you to do, you won’t need to manipulate your way into it. It will locate you.
Later on, after the Spirit of God left Saul and went into David, Saul became a madman. His men located David in the field, and brought him into the palace to play anointed music to calm Saul’s madness (2 Sam 16:14-23). This was David’s initial introduction to the palace that he would eventually occupy. Nevertheless, he returned to taking care of his sheep.
One day, his father Jesse sent him to give food to his older brothers in Saul’s army. When he got there, he saw Goliath ranting and all of Saul’s army shivering from his terror. David could not stand by and watch God’s name brought to shame. He stepped into the line and defeated Goliath, and suddenly became the war hero Israel’s women had long waited for. They sang songs saying Saul had killed thousands, but David killed tens of thousands, creating envy, hatred and bitterness for David from Saul. Again and again, Saul tried to kill David (1 Sam 18:10; 19:10). How did David respond? He simply dodged and kept escaping. In 1 Sam 19:1, Saul sent Jonathan and a select team of soldiers seek out and kill him, but God gave him favor. Saul even tried to use David’s own wife against him. At one point, David had to escape to Gath of the Philistines for his dear life.
God’s university of pain and fire is the place where He prepares men who will not depend on anything and anyone else but God alone.
God has very few broken men. That is why He has a school, because He has too many unbroken men: men who became ministers before they knew how to be Christian. Indeed, God has many that claim to have His authority, yet most are not broken. Of course, there are a multitude of others that claim to be God’s men but are not.
Why are there so few students in God’s school? Because those that are in this school often must suffer pain. God uses the Sauls of life to teach his children.
Are you still inclined to fight back and always vindicate yourself? You will never learn all the lessons you need to learn if you are busy defending yourself. Besides, it is a gross distraction for your calling from the enemy.
Trust me: I know what it feels like to deal with the perils of ministry, to have spears thrown at you by the very ones you have labored over. What naturally should you do when someone hurls his spear at you? You may hurl it back, try to prove that you won’t take nonsense, show your smarts, defend your ground, and just like Saul, you’ll eventually end up in shame.
Never forget what God is looking for: “a broken spirit and a contrite heart”. (Psa 51:17).
May you be broken, so that the fragrance of glory locked within you will come out. May you be crushed, that you may learn to stop leaning on anything and anyone else but God. May you be shattered, and avoid an end of disgrace like King Saul’s. May you be humbled and refined by the pains of this life, that you may stand the tests of life, and be dependable and fit for the use of the King.
God is looking for frail men into whom He can pour Himself, but crushing process is so unpleasant that there are few candidates who want it. Do you?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5