I was cleaning out the flower beds in the front of the house a few weeks ago. It's that time of year when everything needs pruning and the leaves need to be picked up. There is always something to be done and, I find that if I can do just a bit at a time much can be accomplished. I used to be able to do it all in one fell swoop but that isn't the case anymore. Most things now are done in bits and pieces ~ piece-meal if you will. But it gets done and accomplished nevertheless. On this particular day I had put one foot into a higher flower bed only to have my knee lock in a painful position. As I was yelling in pain I was also laughing at the ridiculousness of my situation. Here I was, straddled from one point to another, not being able to move because the knee had locked up. Thinking to myself, "For crying out loud! The body is just plain falling apart!". My mind tells me that I can still work like I was in my twenties or thirties but my body is telling me, "Ah, not so much".
What does God do with a broken down worker? From the outside it is the strong and beautiful looking ones who seem to take on the world, those whom we want to follow. It does seem strange to look to the one who is crippled but calls you to "come and storm the castle with me". This doesn't seem to exude confidence in us no matter how inviting his words are. The images that we see everyday remind us that we don't measure up. So we try harder and harder to fit that measure, thinking if only. . . . .
Truth be told, though, everyone is broken in one way or another. Outward appearances are deceiving because for some the brokeness that they experience can be masked by a good outward appearance. For most of us there is at least one thing that keeps us from feeling ahead of the power curve. We live in a broken world with fractured bodies, minds or emotions. Loneliness might be the thing that brings you to the edge while for someone else it is the rejection of a broken relationship. Depression, abuse, mental anxiety can cause a host of broken pieces that, seemingly, can't be put back together again. We don't have to have a great fall like Humpty Dumpty to realize that it's going to take a lot more than bandages and positive thinking to put us back to the place where we feel whole and able to accomplish all that we think we need to accomplish. If we can be honest with ourselves and admit to the brokeness in our lives this can be the beginning of seeing the surpassing power of God.
Ken Sande once said that, "Christ breaks us to free us . . . to ultimately use us". Again, I ask the question ~ "What does God do with a broken down worker?". He finally has something pliable to mold and shape into a vessel that brings Him glory. No longer are we able to depend upon our own strength to accomplish anything for the Kingdom. We are now jars of clay, being fashioned into something beautiful and fit for the Master's use (2 Corinthians 4:7). What is really true is that which is unseen and eternal. This gives us hope as we view the broken down pieces of our lives.
Pastor Andrew told the story today in his sermon about Itzhak Perlman, the brilliant violinist who has been crippled by childhood polio. In this particular story Mr. Perlman was playing a most difficult piece in front of an audience when one of his violin strings broke. The symphony stopped, realizing that it was close to impossible to go on but Mr. Perlman instructed the symphony to continue and he finished the difficult piece of music with three strings. The crowd was silenced by the accomplishment of Itzhak Perlman and then erupted in spontaneous applause. His response when asked was this, "All my life I have attempted to make music with that which remains."
We might not have all the strings of our life finely tuned but we can use that which remains for the glory of God. His power is made perfect in our weakness. Our temptation is to see our weakness more than His power. May He give us true vision to view the eternal as we live out in the temporal.