Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beaten, Bitter or Broken?

We all have a past. We all have hurts and pains and struggles from our pasts that reach out and attempt to cast their strangling shadow over us at every opportunity. Things that threaten to steal from us our joy and our confidence and our hope. While I know, all to well, these feelings, I am also a firm believer in choices. I fully believe that WE have a choice to remain in that place that our past brings us to; OR WE have a choice to press on. Although it's so hard at times to do that, the weight of our sins and our failures seem to be so strong while our bodies and our strength seem so weak. We want to move, but the constant reminders of the things that got us to that place seem to be continually pushing us back down. We feel defeated and BEATEN. Webster's defines beaten like this;

                                                    Beaten:    1. formed or shaped by blows; hammered:
                                                                    2. defeated; vanquished
                                                                   3. overcome by exhaustion

Formed by the blows, Defeated and wonder it's so hard to drag oneself through all of that mess! The things that we go through (life's 'blows') form us, they shape us into who we are. Some things, if deep enough, can change our very nature. Whether it be people or circumstances or even our own sin and failures, once we feel defeat by them, the door is wide open for the host of all the other feelings that the enemy wants us to feel;  Hopeless, lost, abandoned, confused, hurt, OVERCOME. The thing about beaten is that it seems so final. And it can be. If we choose to stay on the path of the beaten, we are saying that we are are finished! That we don't believe we will ever make it back in the fight. We are down for the count. We can't do it. We give up. We don't believe what God says to be faithful and true (ouch).

So, we decide not to be defeated and beaten, we decide to get up and continue the fight. We decide that we CAN do it. That we do believe what God says to be faithful and true. So we take all our junk and trudge forward. On the outside, we are strong and ready. We have doctored up and dressed our outward wounds and press on. But on the inside, the place where no one can see, we aren't doing as well.....We decided to move forward but we just took all the stuff that was piled on our shoulders and stuffed it in our hearts and our spirit. What a dangerous hiding place! Inside, we are still just as bloody and hurt as we have ever been.
That seed that we plant on the inside grows because we nourish it, with our thoughts, with our hidden feelings and eventually it grows into a huge tree of BITTERNESS. Going back to Webster's for the definition of bitter;

                                               Bitter: 1. hard to bear; grievous; distressful
                                                           2. causing pain; piercing; stinging
                                                           3. characterized by intense antagonism or hostility
                                                           4. resentful or cynical

Hard to bear, piercing pain, intense hostility, cynical.....all of these things are fruits from that tree of bitterness. Bitterness can and WILL devour your very life...if you stay on the path of the bitter. It's so easy to find reasons to stay there. You can even justify your reason for staying there. Maybe you have no reason to trust anyone because people have betrayed you. Maybe you have no reason to feel like you should love because you were never shown love. Maybe you feel like you have no right to restoration from bitterness because you've committed acts that you deem unworthy of you plant that seed of bitterness. You don't feel beaten anymore because you have pulled it all together on the outside, but on the inside you are still suffering. When we realize that we CAN choose to uproot that tree, not chop it down because the root would still remain. When we are ready to uproot, all those fruits from that tree are still there, but they aren't growing anymore more because their source of life has been removed, what remains is a gaping hole that can be filled with only one thing. This is when we are ready to choose the path we should have been traveling all along....the path of the BROKEN...

                                            Broken:  1. weakened in strength, spirit
                                                           2. tamed, trained, or reduced to submission
                                                           3. not functioning properly; out of working order

When we are broken we are weakened, in strength and in spirit....not functioning properly and my favorite; reduced to submission. When we are broken, we are at a place where all we have left is to submit. We've tried everything we know to do in and of ourselves and have come up with pieces that are just falling apart. Brokenness may be the 'right' place to be, but that doesn't make it any less painful. In Scripture we hear the Lord say to Jeremiah;

2 "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message."3 So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel.4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.5 Then the word of the Lord came to me.6 He said, "Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?" declares the Lord. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.
Jer. 18:2-6

Are you 'marred clay' in His hands?
I am reading a book by Jim Daly called 'Stronger: Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength' and his book is what inspired me to write this. He has a chapter in it entitled the same as this blog title. In his book, he says it like this;

"I see a great distinction between beaten, bitter and broken. When we're beaten, we are in a sense limp and useless. We're like clay that dissolves at a touch. The potter can't do anything with us because we don't hold our shape.
But when we are bitter , we're like a single piece of clay that's grown hard and inflexible. We're equally useless to the potter because we aren't malleable. The shape we're in doesn't do any good to anyone and the potter can't mold us into a new and better form.
Being broken, however, is a different story. We may be shattered into pieces, but there is strength in those pieces. When we invite the potter to combine his skills with our strength, little though it may be, He molds us into a new, more useful, and more lasting form - one even stronger than before." 
-Jim Daly 'Stronger'

Brokenness isn't a comfortable place. Getting there takes a lot of courage and strength. Staying there takes even more. But I believe that is exactly where God wants us. He wants us in a place where all we have is Him. A place where we are willing to give it all to Him. All the broken pieces. All the bandaging. All the weights of guilt. All of our emotions. All of our plans. A place where we lay it all out and truly say, "Here. This is all I have, and it's broken. I've messed it up. I feel like I've ruined it. But I'm giving it to You. I will trust You to do what You will. I know that I can't. I've tried. I don't feel like I'm worthy, but You tell me different. I know I can't do it by myself.  But I believe that You can. I'm giving it ALL to You." He is there, behind that potter's wheel just waiting on us to become that piece of clay that He can work with. I see Him with His foot on the pedal, just waiting....anxious to get to work on His masterpiece. Excited to show the world what He's been waiting to create. Isn't He amazing? 

In the hands of the Potter, 

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