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I am broken.
I am cut.
Deeply to the core of my being.
And God did it.
I liken it somewhat to Jacob and his limp (Genesis 32:22-32). Wrestling with God will bring you to a place of complete brokenness, and perhaps less hair, but there is also a divine beauty in the breaking He brings. It changes you. And absolutely no one can understand this unless they've experienced it too.
It's a lonely, painful place to be. But it also produces something of great worth: refining us as gold. I call it a painful but precious process.
Through it, we find Him out. And I'm not talking about superficial things. I'm talking deeper layers. Deeper within deeper and then even deeper places. We're brought into greater depths in Him because we are in His breaking process.
Many people don't want to hear this or even entertain the thought that He works in this way, but I have found He does. And He has a purpose for it, which we don't often fully understand while it's happening.
The truth is it's gut-wrenching. It's maddening. And it feels like you're going to die. Actually in a way you do. There is a death to self. A beautiful death. We die with Christ and are also raised with Him (Ephesians 2:6, Colossians 3:1). But we also die more to the flesh in order to make room for the Holy Spirit to expand within us.
Real Talk Moment
In this place God seems harsh, distant, and uncaring. Suddenly, and rather shockingly, He's not exactly who we thought He was. This is not as awful or fatal as it sounds but it is true. It's not fun when we're going through it, but if The Father is going to use us in a great way, we must go through His great breaking process. And through this necessary process, we come to know parts of Him we never would otherwise.
It can feel like a paradox. His kindness seems to take a back seat to the breaking that's underway. It seems severe like He's tearing us a part. It also seems awesome because He's teaching us so much and revealing more of Himself and His ways to us. It's altogether wonderful and painstaking. The key is in realizing it won't last forever. However, we will be forever changed.
You can't go deep with Him and not come out changed.
Just as Jacob left limping after His encounter with God at Penuel, He also left with a new name. He found out who he really was called to be. He found out his true identity.
"What is your name?" the Man asked. "Jacob," was his reply. "It isn't anymore," the Man told him. "It is Israel - one who has power with God. Because you have been strong with God, you shall prevail with men." Genesis 32:27-28
So it is With Us
We will all have our Penuel times with The Lord. And if we keep holding onto Him, if we don't let go, we'll emerge forever changed. We will be empowered by God because of the struggle. The question isn't will we struggle. The question is, will we keep holding onto God despite the struggle?
The holy breaking process is ordained by God himself, and will leave us cut and empowered with His will and His purposes. And it will reveal our true identity in Christ.
Just like Jacob's limp was a sign of his struggle to never let go of God, so is the proverbial cut. His cut on us is our mark from Him, so to speak. It says we've been in the deep places with Him.
So many believers are only concerned with how trustworthy God is but that's a two-way street. He is also looking for those He can trust as well.
How do You Find Out Who You can Trust?
It's usually in the most painful of places this is revealed. You'll see who you can really depend on there. Not everybody will get in the dirt with you; or for you, for that matter. Not everyone can tolerate the deep places or the heat and pressure that comes with it. But those who can, those who will, are the ones you'll find you really can trust. And they'll trust you back. It's a place of revealing.
So not only do we find Him out, He finds us out too. It's a unique place of exchange that transpires through much difficulty and controlled chaos. Like a birthing process, the pain produces something beautiful. I know that might not make much sense - unless you've experienced it. If that's the case then you know what I'm saying is true. And it's one of the most difficult truths to convey because it is such a deeper revealing of how He desires to lovingly work in our lives.
In his book, The Root of The Righteous, A.W. Tozer pens this difficult truth so well. Or at least I think he does:
"The flaming desire to be rid of every unholy thing and to put on the likeness of Christ at any cost is not often found among us. We expect to enter the everlasting kingdom of our Father and to sit down around the table with sages, saints and martyrs; and through the grace of God, maybe we shall; yes maybe we shall. But for the most of us it could prove at first an embarrassing experience. Ours might be the silence of the untried soldier in the presence of the battle-hardened heroes who have fought the fight and won the victory and who have scars to prove that they were present when the battle was joined. Thus, it is necessary for God to use suffering in his holy work of preparing his saints, it is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply."
Two Ways to Look at This
We can ultimately look at this in one of two ways.
We'll either see God as being a cruel and uncaring taskmaster.
We'll see the love and wisdom of our Heavenly Father at work; preparing us and purifying us for His greater purposes. And greater, deeper intimacy is always a result.
God doesn't entrust His power to just anybody; especially novices. He's looking for people who will allow Him to take them through His process. People who are truly led and walk by the Spirit. People who allow Him to operate outside of the box in their lives. This is why the breaking process is so costly. He's looking for those He can entrust His heart and His purposes to. And that's no small thing.
I've found the more He does this in my own life, the more of himself He pours into those broken open places, and the more abiding friendship I have with Him there; unlike any other place. What I realize most is how very much I need it.
Please don't mistake this for something it's not. God isn't being mean or on some kind of sadistic power trip. The breaking process is vital in a believer's life. And that process looks different for each of us. Nevertheless, through it, we learn to surrender our will to His so that we ultimately know how to walk in true obedience.
Just as Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered (Hebrews 5:7-8), so do we.
Mind you, it's for different reasons, but as we truly follow after Christ, as we take up our own crosses daily, we learn to walk in obedience as our Lord and Savior did. Not in an overbearing or legalistic kind of way, but in the way Jesus was yielded to The Father. As a result, we become more deeply rooted in Him. We also take on more of His nature. It's really a transformative process. And while it is often painful, the outcome is truly beautiful and freeing.
Listen, The Lord doesn't just cut us open and then leave us exposed. Instead, He fills those places with Himself - with His beauty. As a result, we come to know Him better, and in turn; we're better able to reflect more of who He really is. He shines brighter through us.
And that's always a beautiful thing.