Brokenness is a term that has gone out of fashion in the church.  To some degree, I understand why.  When we think of something broken, we think in terms of not fixed or not mendable.  For many years, I associated brokenness from the point of view of my unworthiness.  A bit of morbid false humility meeting pious self-righteousness.

Brokenness is probably best linked with the word humility.  Now we are on to Biblical term that we are more familiar with.  Before moving to something of the often lost art of humility in this day and age, I want to stay with this term brokenness.  Why?  Because sometimes it still fits.  It is not simply an outdated word, or descriptive of some religion once lost and gone.

When I think of brokenness, I often think of Jacob in the Old Testament.  The grandson of Abraham, who was the father of faith and the nation of Israel.  Jacob had a divine mission to carry the family line…the promise of a nation.  It was given at his birth through a word from God to his mother, Rebekah.  The complication was that Jacob was the second born, and so, according to tradition and culture, that “calling” would be for his brother, and not for him.  Even more stacked against him was that his brother Esau was daddy’s boy.  He was a hunter, and manly man, and Jacob…well…he hung out with mom.  God would be faithful to his promise, but not without Jacob, helping the process along.

How often do we do that?  How often do I do that?  God seems slow, or I do not understand His ways, and I help him along, in human strength.  That which is flesh can only give birth to flesh and what which is Spirit only gives birth to Spirit.  We cannot bring forth Spirit by works of our flesh.  It simply does not work.  Brokenness is the process we go through where it becomes less of our flesh and more of God’s Spirit.

Jacob and his mother’s scheme’s resulted in him receiving his father’s blessing instead of his older brother, but as a result, his brother sought to kill him, and Jacob fled to his mother’s brother.

The cycle of manipulation and struggle continued in Jacob’s life, as his uncle Laban cheated him by giving him Leah for a wife instead of Rachel as was agreed (he later married Rachel and worked an additional seven years for Laban as a result).  Laban also changed Jacob’s wages more then ten times, but God had favor on Jacob none-the-less, and was faithful to the promise made at Jacob’s birth.  In the midst of turmoil, Jacob began to have encounters with God.

On one of these occasions, Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord all night.  At dawn, the Angel spoke that he must leave.  We see later, that the Angel was God.  Jacob determined that he would not relent unless his opponent blessed him.  The request was granted!  Amazing!  But the Angel also touched the socket of Jacob’s hip, and he limped for the rest of his days.

I believe that God allows us to wrestle with Him.  He desires relationship and intimacy with us.  Face to face encounters.  As we wrestle, His desire is to bless us, but in the process, He allows our lives to be touched in such a way that we limp.  That is brokenness.  It is not about being unhealthy or not healed in our hearts.  It is about walking with a reminder that we cannot do this thing, or anything, without Him.

I once heard it shared by a great Bible Teacher:  “I do not trust a Minister who does not limp.”  It is in brokenness that the presence of God comes.  God loves us unconditionally, but He is very careful about whom He shares His glory with.  The more glory we want to experience, the more brokenness will be required in our lives.

When I was younger, I totally misunderstood humility.  I thought is was to be more quiet, pious, and self-debasing.  My favorite definition for humility is to have a healthy understanding of who I am and of who God is.  When I am humble, I understand that without God I am nothing, but even more so, that with God, I have access to all of His blessings and authority.  I can be totally confident in His love and grace.

We live in a day and age, where even within the church, we perhaps have overindulged in the discovery of our personal “calling” and discovering of spiritual “gifts.”  These are of course worthy pursuits, but if we lack brokenness and humility in our lives, we substitute what the Spirit of God wants to do in and through us for some fleshy attempt at glory that will intimate have no eternal impact or value.

And so, instead of dismissing brokenness and humility as something old-fashion and out-of-date, I want to embrace that process in my life, that I may know God more and see Him work in greater measure in and through me.

How about you?