Broken

July 9, 2012 — Leave a comment

broken

We are broken. Both as individuals and as a species. We see the result of our brokenness played out on the evening news, by the side of the road, in alleys. We see it in our churches and in our homes as well. There is brokenness everywhere we look.

Part of being broken is denial. We know there’s something wrong, we might even know exactly what it is, but we don’t know how to be unbroken, and it seems hard anyway. It’s easier to stay the way we are. Maybe we even think we are happy, and why change it? Why fix what ain’t (too) broken?

We are deluded by how broken we actually are, and by the way, we will never know just how bad it is until the brokenness is repaired. We can’t see that far or that high. But when we’re away from the things that are holding us in bondage, when we actually get a taste of freedom, it’s easy to look back and see just how bad it really was.

Myself, the journey began about two years ago. I was miserable but I hid it pretty well. My wife knew, I’m sure my kids knew, and if you looked at me long and hard and deep you could have seen it. But I really did put on the happy church face for everyone. I couldn’t let anyone know just how dead I was inside, how alone.

When I saw it though, when it was pointed out to me – well, my first reaction was shame, then acceptance, then repentance, then healing. And probably some steps I’m not even thinking about right now in between all those. It took time, it took self examination, it took prayer and counseling. But more than anything it took getting to know God.

What was actually wrong with me? What is wrong with us? With people? I think our hearts are broken.

There was a time and a place when all of creation was in perfect fellowship with God. People – people like you and me – walked with God himself, talked to him just like we talk to the person in the cubicle next to us at work. Maybe with less cursing though. Adam and Eve walked with God and gave names to all of creation. They walked in the garden together, in perfect fellowship.

And then, when faced with a choice, they chose to distrust the source of all that they were. They were tempted, which in itself is not a bad thing, but instead of taking it to God, instead of saying, “You know what that crazy snake said?” they took the fruit from the wrong tree, they ate it – they made it a part of themselves – and then they hid from God.

What’s so bad about knowledge? Isn’t it a good thing to know good and evil? If you know one from the other, you should be able to make the right choice – do good and you’re a good person, do bad and, well, you’re bad. Right?

Not so fast. The choice was between knowledge and life, not between good and evil. There were two trees in question, not three. The Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Two trees. Adam and Eve chose knowledge over life.

Their choice has doomed us to brokenness ever since.

Oh, we try. We try so hard to do the right thing, to be good people. We know right from wrong, and we struggle to do the right thing. We give to the poor, go on mission trips, work for churches. There’s always going to be someone in need, some soup kitchen where you can serve to try and make your guilt take a back seat for a day, but when the day is done, when you’re alone in the dark, it always comes creeping back in and you know this one thing – you can’t save yourself. No matter how much good you do, no matter how much you give, you will always be broken.

There is an easy answer to your brokenness, if you’re interested. Choose life!

You may want to ask, just like I did, “But can it really be that easy?” Yes. Yes it can.

The problem with me is how strong I am, how willful. Bob Hamp says in his book Think Differently, Live Differently that “The stronger the person, the more they struggle, and the quicker they become entrenched.”

I had a great job, good friends, beautiful wife, beautiful kids – they all supported me, loved me, thought the world of me, and still I was stuck. I was miserable, and even though I was a Christian man seeking to know God, I was lost. The more I tried to do the right thing, the worse I got – further from God, more depressed, more stuck.

I was trying to know God on my terms. He can’t just be known! He reveals himself to those who seek him! I was seeking – I was reading some pretty deep stuff by some great Christian writers, and the more I read the more lost I felt. I was trying to get to God through knowledge and through doing good. Which is the same path everyone is on, until they aren’t.

Why did Jesus come to the earth? Why leave his glory in heaven and come here? What is sin? What is it that keeps us from knowing God the right way? Well, Jesus came to set us free – free from being who we are. And sin is being disconnected from God. The result of sin, of being disconnected from God is death, even while we are still physically alive. That’s why we act and feel the way we do. Because we are not connected to the source of life.

We all start out broken, many people stay that way. Some people, however, find a source beyond themselves and are renewed – we become who we were intended to be. Not by our own strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

So the question is, how do we find this renewal? How are we connected again to our source of life? How can we not be broken anymore?

Remember when Jesus was speaking with the Samaritan woman? Read John 4 – Jesus told her, “If you knew who I was you would ask and I would give you living water.”

Jesus is the living water! He was sent by the Father to restore us – he paid the price for all people and what we need to do is repent! We don’t need to make up our minds, we don’t need to think different kinds of thoughts or do different kinds of actions. Our actions won’t save us, save one – repent! Be transformed by the renewing of you mind! Matthew 4 says, “From then on, Jesus began to preach ‘Repent! For the Kingdom of God is near!’”

Yes this is on my mind a lot lately – because it’s happening to me! The more I seek Him, the clearer it all becomes. I was lost and broken and like everyone else I was trying to do the right thing, say the right thing, think the right thing, act the right way. I can’t! I failed constantly and couldn’t understand why! Because I was depending on me to change me and I couldn’t change me and I thought God hated me and I was a failure. I was right in one thing – I can’t change me. That level of change comes from outside ourselves and like a new broom, it sweeps clean.

Repentance is not trading one way of doing things for another. That’s the same mistake we always make. Repentance is not changing bad behavior for good – repentance is death. Putting those thoughts and actions to death and having a completely new way of thinking implanted into you. Only then can you be who you were meant to be, who you were born to be, who God designed you to be.

Crazy right? It’s either that or stay broken. I couldn’t do it that way anymore. I’m strong and willful, but even the strongest, most stubborn people get tired and come to the end of what they can do.

Where are you? At the end? Still hanging on? Barely making it? Jesus came to make you new, to give you a new beginning, to give you life. To read this and know it and to go on the way you always have is crazier than following Jesus and allowing Him to heal you. He will do it right now. Ask and you shall receive!

Rich Nifong

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I love Jesus, my wife Cheryl, my girls Trinity and Zoey, Gateway Church, long walks in the rain and anything on Discovery.

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