He has shown you, o man what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
There is a Christian song that says, “Brokenness is what I long for. Brokenness is what I need. Brokenness is what you want from me.” When I first heard that song, I really didn’t like it. I thought of brokenness as weakness and pain and failure and I couldn’t see why God would want that for my life.
But over time, I discovered the beautiful side of brokenness. So now, when I sing that song, it feels like a sweet surrender. The kind of submission that brings a real sense of peace because I trust the one I’m surrendering to.
Every broken place in our lives makes a place for God to change us. When we recognize the broken places, we are reminded again of how very much we need a God of grace. So we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to be honest, to be teachable. The good side of Brokenness is that it gives God the opportunity to make something new and eternal out of our messes.
So I thought I would share with you a time that God shined a spotlight on my brokenness. It was almost 20 years ago. We had just become aware that there are in fact many homeless people who live on the streets near downtown Ft Worth. This was before Feed By Grace Ministry was in that area, so we were just showing up every once in a while with food or hot chocolate and distributing it to people who lined up on the street. On this particular day, we had a bunch of leftover hamburgers from a church picnic so we set up a couple of tables next to our truck and began handing out hamburgers to people as they came through.
Most of the people in the line were men, but at one point, I looked up to see the face of a woman. And I remember her very clearly. She was blonde. She had an infection in her eyes. They were both bright red and filled with pus. And she had an infection in her skin, with white blisters all over her face. As she took the cold hamburger I was offering, she looked so directly into my eyes that I remember feeling like I was looking at a drowning person who was begging for someone to throw her a rope. It felt like a private message between two women, one who was desperately needing help and hoping the other could save her…. And I let the moment pass. I handed her a meaningless hamburger and ignored the feeling in the pit of my stomach. And she walked through the line and disappeared into the street.
As I drove back to the church, I felt a growing sense of shame. I had been the church lady, feeding homeless people, just like church ladies are supposed to do. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to step outside of my comfortable place behind the table to throw a lifeline to somebody who desperately needed to be known and loved. I hadn’t even asked her name, and she deserved better... so I named her. I named her Linda. And I prayed for her that day and continue to pray for her to this day. She will always be Linda to me and I have prayed for her safety and her happiness, and that she found a way out and someone to love her.
But I never forget that I treated Linda like a church project and God convicted me and poured His grace into that broken place. I wish I could go back and sit beside Linda and listen to her story. But I thank God for pouring His spirit into my brokenness that day. A few years later when I sat beside a 6 year old girl with AIDS in Zimbabwe, and her head was covered with oozing sores, I held her hand and we sang a song and she melted into my shoulder and smiled. And I thought about Linda. And I thanked her for what she had taught me.
When Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”, I think this was the truth He was revealing to us. We are never closer to Him than when we confess our need to be healed and, in humility, open ourselves to His grace.
Loving God, help me to walk humbly with you and be vulnerable to your teaching. Show me where I am broken so that I can receive your grace and move closer to your Kingdom. Amen
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.