Thursday, October 16, 2008

Broken Things

                                                                   Petition 

~ Sue. C. Boynton

Lord, let me learn from this old tree
that there is dignity in loneliness, 
Beauty in broken branches,
Strength in twisted, storm-beaten torso.

Help me to see that underneath
If roots go deep enough
No storms can wreck the life
that from them reaches to the sky.

Help me to remember the important thing,
To stand
Where God has placed me.

Sometimes I want to run. Withdraw. Flee to email, a book, a conversation, a task. Anything
but stay and deal with the uncomfortable.  It is hard to tarry and linger when God chastens. Much of me is breaking for Him. It hurts. My self must fall away so I can abide more fully in Him.

Lately my Heavenly Father has been showing me part of my character that is sin. Another part. He is exposing  a spirit of criticism that rears its head within me. When I see it from His eyes, I see its ugliness, the damage it causes, and the source from which it comes. I know He prunes the branches in my life that bear no fruit and this is one. It deters the work He wants to do in me and through me. Sometimes I run from Him or buck against His discipline. Sometimes I even complain. 

I am learning though.

This time, I yield to him. I am saddened by the sin I see in me. I grieve with Him. I confess it, and feel His love flood through me. I look for the good, the beautiful that He created within the other. Why do I pause and dwell on such a little, petty thing?

I am a broken one, a bruised one. Sometimes my eyes are on my smallness, not His greatness. He calls us to abide in Him. His soft and gentle voice whispers into my heart.

"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it that it may bear more fruit....Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me."  
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing."  John 15: 2,4  NASV

For His glory, God must have broken things. He has promised that a bruised reed, He will not break and a smoldering wick, He will not snuff out. God accepts broken and contrite hearts. 

God knows it hurts.  He asks us to press in, to weather the storm.  Our eyes must be on Him. He is our refuge, our redeemer, and our rock in times of trial. He is there. He will never leave or forsake us. We can not run from the pain or we will never know it's glory. We must feel the pain and allow it to work in us.

When a woman gives birth, she learns to use the pain to bring the baby down. By embracing the pain, working through it, new life is brought forth. 

So it is with trial, discipline, and God's chastening work in our lives. 

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained up by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb that is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.  Hebrews 12: 11-13 NASV

Jesus was broken too. Pierced and bloodied, bruised and beaten. He hurt.

Although He was a son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation. Hebrews 5: 8-9 NASV

Mrs. Charles E. Cowman wisely shares in her entry for October 15 in Streams in the Desert:

And thus, on and on, through all history, and all biography, and all vegetation, and all spiritual life, God must have BROKEN THINGS. 
Those who are broken in wealth, and broken in self-will, and broken in their ambitions, and broken in their beautiful ideals, and broken in worldly reputation, and broken in their affections, and broken ofttimes in health; those who are despised and seem utterly forlorn
and helpless, the Holy Ghost is seizing upon, and using for God's glory.

So we take courage, all of us who are broken. We seek our Heavenly Father. Abide in Him and wait upon Him. One day our brokenness will yield a crop of righteousness. He has promised.

20 comments:

Belinda said...

Dear Joyful,
What truth and beauty I found here this morning. Thank you for being available to God, for allowing him to break you and shine through you. It is good to be broken, like the bread of communion, and poured out like wine as an offering to God. He makes beauty out of the ashes of our lives. I will meditate on these things today. He is so good, so lovely, so worthy of all praise. His ways are truth, his paths are peace.

Night Owl said...

Hi Joyful,
Wow is all I can say... It's like you wrote that just for me (I know you didn't). I feel so broken and unwanted right now, it was just the story I needed to get me through another day.
I haven't been able to sleep for two nights now... Does anyone have any suggestions for me on how to sleep (other than medications)? Because I'm just exhausted. And although I'm a night owl, this is just miserable. :(

Night Owl said...

I meant to say thank you Joyful Fox... :) Sorry... I'm so tired I can't even think straight! Thank you!
Love
Night Owl

Susan said...

Thanks Ellen, from one broken, twisted, storm scarred tree to another!

Susan said...

Thanks Ellen, from one broken, twisted, storm scarred tree to another!

Belinda said...

Dear Night Owl,
I will be praying that God gives you sleep. You are such a dear, precious friend, and beautiful inside and out, not to mention gifted, and very, very special to me.

I'm glad that you said, "I feel," as opposed to "I am," for that tells me something important; that deep down your soul knows the truth; that you are God's beloved child.

Angcat said...

Joyful,
I loved the scripture you shared from Heb 12. It says that from discipline will come "the peaceful fruit of righteousness."
We have something so precious to look forward to my sister, as we journey these hard roads of discipline and refining.
But I know I see a glimmer of the gold that He promised, the fruit of peace growing...
For His Glory

Joyful Fox said...

Night Owl,

God probably did have me write this just for you because it wasn't anything that I had planned on writing. It burst from me with scriptures and many other sources. I asked God for a post that would bless those who read and meet their needs.

A long time ago, I really struggled with sleeping too. Some things that worked for me was playing classical music while I was in bed (I used a feature on my player called continuous play). However, a CD is about 45 min. and that might quiet your mind and heart enough to be able to sleep.

Before bed I read some Psalms out loud. Some of my favourites are Psalm 18, 19, 20, 23, 24,27, 37, 42, 51, 61, 91, 103, 125-130, and 139.

I started the getting ready for bed usually an hour before and had a hot bath before that. Sometimes when we struggle with sleeping we start getting anxious right after dinner, fearing and anticipating a struggle.

Once you have a good sleep one night, you break the cycle and it's easier the night after.

I will pray for you tonight with Belinda and anyone else who reads this and feels lead in the same vein.

Peace to you my friend.

Night Owl said...

Thank you SO much, Belinda and Joyful.
I'm so happy that God blessed you with this story for me (and for possible others). I spent about an hour yesterday basically crying and complaining to Him in my school's (empty, thank goodness) chapel. The sniffles would have been a bit embarrassing if someone else was in there. (It's kind of sad though, that no one else was in there...) I did ask Him if He wouldn't mind, please if He could just show me He was there. :) And I guess He did! :)
I'm so tired I feel like a zombie right now, so I apologize if any of this is incoherent...
I usually listen to music to fall asleep if I have trouble sleeping. But now I can't do that, because my iPod earphones are broken. And I can't put a CD on without having earphones as everyone else is usually already sleeping. At first, I was angry about this because I thought, how could God give me trouble sleeping and then not even give me resources to cope with that?! But the earphones are probably just old and needed to be replaced. Most things are not immortal. So I have yet to replace them. I should try to do that today.
I must endure a two hour class and a three hour class now back-to-back without a break. *yawn* I'm tired just thinking about it.
Thank you also for the Psalm suggestions I will do that tonight! :)
Oh, I kind of have a question I was kind of worried about. I have a friend in medieval studies and he is completely obsessed with saints. He says that saints weren't able to sleep usually because they had "demons". That really scares me. I don't want a demon. And I definitely don't want to be a saint (haha, as if). I'm not saint material. But probably regular people can have demons too. That scares me. Do I have a demon? What is a demon? How does one get rid of that?
I'm not really THAT worried about it though, because I'm not even sure if I believe in that stuff. It seems kind of supernatural and silly. Besides, if I have God, then I have someone who is more powerful than any demon... right?
And on a completely other topic and much nicer note to leave off on, I REALLY liked the comparisons to the weathered trees. :) Trees are so strong, it just seems natural that they withstand SO MUCH. I guess it just might be true that God never gives us more than we can handle.
Love,
Night Owl

Joyful Fox said...

Night Owl,

Right now you are tired and prey to many fears such as demons. It is likely that you aren't possessed by demons but Satan likes to prey on our minds with things that cause us fear. Still your heart and mind before Him. Take all thoughts captive other than what is true, lovely, just, honourable, praiseworthy, and excellent. Stay your mind on Him and all He is.

Don't take on any more worry or concerns.

We will pray for you.

Davy said...

Hello, Night Owl. It's Davie.

It seems that you're having trouble sleeping because of something that its bringing you a lot of unwanted anxiety. I know what that's like, so maybe I can help.

Anyway, if it's anything to do with life being hard or anything like that, remember that if God provides for the little birds, he just cares that much more about you, a special creature made in his image to be his friend! Even if you fail out of school or something like that, you needn't worry at all. Take a look at 8:28, and even continue on for a few verses if you like. God uses EVERYTHING for the good of you, who love him.

Also, I am very skeptical of what your friend said. He may mean well, but what he said doesn't make sense. Demons are the Devil's angels who rebelled against God with Satan, but if the infinite God takes residence in you, then how can there be room for demons? Sure they can try to influence you, but I'm pretty sure that they can't possess you if God is in you. If you're unsure about whether God is in you, there's no harm in asking him to come into your life twice. Just pray another prayer to commit your whole life to him again if you feel the need. Then just remember what 1 John 5:13 says. It's a good thing that I live next door to the Catholic chaplaincy. I'm surrounded by devout Catholics, who I'm sure would be pleased to shed more light on the matter of sleepless saints.

As for whether or not you think you're saint material, you'd be surprised. Of course, I don't feel the need to go to heaven right away either, but take a look at some of the Pauline letters to how St. Paul addresses the people in the churches. He calls them "saints". This is how God sees you who believe in Jesus. There are no second class Christians.

Finally, there are tricks that can help you to relax. I went to counseling at my school, and they gave me a CD that had relaxation exercises on it. I was a bit skeptical at first, but it works. Basically, the trick is to try to get the day's worries out of your head. When you lie down to sleep, try to focus on abdominal breathing. Another thing to do is to try to relax, and imagine scanning your body for tension and forcing that tension through your arms and out your fingertips. It will help you relax. Finally, try to imagine a peaceful scene like an empty beach and just imagine that your lying down there looking off into the horizon. It is important to focus on these things because it takes the focus off of the other things running around in your head.

This comment is getting a little long, but I'd be happy to talk to you offline. Just send me an e-mail if you would like:
6ds15@queensu.ca

Davy said...

Sorry, that was ROMANS 8:23.

Davy said...

Sorry, Romans 8:28!

Susan said...

That's my boy! :)

Night Owl said...

Thanks so much Davy and Joyful. You are such lovely friends. :)
hehe :) I love the book of Romans. It's probably my favourite... Well, I have a few favourites, which are tied. :)
It's funny that now I feel sleepy, but I can't sleep because I have to finish an assignment due tomorrow. I also got earphones - I'm SOOOOOOOOOOO happy about that. There's this piece I adore, from Berlioz's Requiem: the Sanctus. It's SOOOOOOOOOOO incredible. You must listen to it if you get a chance - I'd be happy to try to send it to you through the internet (if I can figure out how, that is).
I was thinking more about trees... People just kind of expect them to be able to withstand so much weathering, but sometimes there comes along a storm that is too much for a tree. I'm trying to ask about expectations. I'm not exactly sure what I'm trying to ask, but I'm trying to understand how one can expect so much from something/one yet not really be sure of where that thing's/person's "breaking point" is. It seems unfair. It's a huge burden.
Anyway, thanks again. Everyone here is being so helpful and kind and caring. :)
love and hugs,
Night Owl

Belinda said...

And that's because we love you Night Owl. Goodnight! Oh, remember It's a Wonderful Life? George definitely felt like he hit the breaking point but God heard all of the prayers going up for him and sent Clarence, that adorable angel, to earn his wings by saving him.

Night Owl said...

I dunno, Belinda. I'm not sure if I have an angel like that. And if I do, surely she is angry with me, and possibly has even given up on me for "easier" people to help in order to earn her wings. Can angels really be depended on the way God can? I mean, I know He sent them... but still... They seem too... "human" maybe?
Thank goodness God knows where my breaking point is. :)
love and hugs

Belinda said...

You are right, Night Owl, no angel or human can be relied upon as God can, but angels do represent God sometimes, as his messengers.

The message in the movie was that George's life had value and importance to so many people and his life made a huge difference for good. He didn't see it until Clarence gave him an opportunity to see what his town would have been like without him. It was such a dark place.

I'm so sorry that the load is so heavy right now. Just know that you have a group of friends here that cares deeply and is praying for you.

Night Owl said...

Dear Belinda,
I think George was a very important person in his town, doing so much good for so many people.
I don't think anything would be much different without me. I don't think I can be compared to George.
I'm kind of happy you're awake still (even though you shouldn't be! :)) it makes 1:30am not such a lonely place to be. :)
Love, Night Owl

Belinda said...

I'm still here! You are right, I shouldn't be. :) I have to go soon as Susan is picking me up at 7.15 and somewhere in between then and now I need to sleep and get up again.
Love, blessings and prayers, Night Owl.