Eagle Devotional: Brokenness For Usefulness
Tip-Off: For almost 40 years there was an epic sports show on Saturday afternoons called ABC’s Wide World of Sports. For those familiar with the show, you can almost still hear announcer-host, Jim McKay, in the intro:
“Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport…the thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat…the human drama of athletic competition…this is ABC’s Wide World of Sports!”
Sports, and life itself, is full of both: the thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat. We will always have to deal with both, but how we respond is everything. In the context of the Christian faith, victory is only attainable through the agony of defeat or “death”. A biblical “death to self” causes us to be less consumed with self and more alive to God.
Halftime: God is actually in the business of causing people to walk with a limp. Consider Jacob in Genesis 32. Jacob was very prideful and deceitful, and he was also a bit of a wrestler. He engaged in one of greatest “sporting events” when he wrestled God, but the result was that he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. But Jacob’s wrestling, and eventual response to God through brokenness, resulted in him actually becoming useful to God, able to carry on the covenant God had made with Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham. Anyone who desires to follow God has to walk a similar path of brokenness for usefulness. But many don’t want to pay this price. Often times when we face deep pain or hardship in life, we can tend to blame the devil or blame others. God makes it clear that He can take anything in life and turn it for His glory and our good Rom. 8:28). Just like going to the gym and working out, it’s only through resistance and painful fitness that we grow stronger. We understand this when it comes to our physical bodies, but sometimes this is lost on us when it comes to our spiritual growth.
Fourth Quarter: Ex. 30:22-30 describes the importance of brokenness for usefulness…
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Collect choice spices—of pure myrrh, fragrant cinnamon, fragrant calamus, and of cassia. Also get olive oil. Like a skilled incense maker, blend these ingredients to make a holy anointing oil. Use this sacred oil to anoint the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the table and all its utensils, the lampstand, etc. Consecrate them to make them absolutely holy. After this, whatever touches them will also become holy. Anoint Aaron and his sons also, consecrating them to serve Me as priests.
You might be thinking, “What’s the point of these spices and oils?” When we see that God uses these to help paint a picture for us of what it takes to have relationship with Him, it helps us understand why it matters. It can help change our perspective on disappointments and difficulties in life. Looking at these spices or oils more closely, none of them in their raw, natural form are useful or desirable. All must be crushed, beaten, cut, or dried before they become valuable and useful.
Myrrh oil is obtained by taking the plant and grinding it into a fine powder. Life can feel like a grinding process at times. Myrrh is actually an embalming fluid.
Cinnamon is a spice with a sweet odor, but not when it’s green. Only after it is cut and dried does it become something we find desirable.
Calamus is creates a sweet aroma only after the plant is beaten, and the more it’s beaten, the sweeter the smell. If you put calamus on your skin, it will increase your appetite. Of course, the implication is that the more difficult things we face in life, the deeper the fellowship we often have with God as we turn to Him.
Cassia, like cinnamon, is a plant that must be stripped, split, and grounded into powdered form. [Jesus] was willing to empty Himself out and to be stripped of His deity. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death (Phil. 2).
Olives are beaten and smashed until oil runs out. The only time an olive tree produces olives if they experience harsh winds of east and refreshing winds from the west. The fruit isn’t the value of the olive tree, but the oil that comes from the olives being crushed.
How did all these plants and oils become useful? By going through a “painful crucible”. It was these “broken” spices and oils that was used to anoint (consecrate, empower, enable) the priests to serve God.
At The Buzzer: This was true for Christ on the cross, and it’s true for us. We don’t go searching for difficulty or hardship, but we can’t go through life without it, whether on the basketball court or in the classroom; in our marriages or in our parenting. When we do face life’s challenges and the agony of defeat, we then have the opportunity to experience the victory and life of Christ. We actually become something He can use. Life’s challenges allow God to deal with our pride and self-centeredness, our deceit and independence. Like a horse that is broken, we actually become useful to God and others.
Overtime: “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4
What makes us useful to God? Isaiah 66:2 This is the one to whom I will look: the one who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My Word.