"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him." - John 4:23 (ESV)
Last week, we learned that we are slaves to sin... and that God gives us freedom. Sometimes our freedom comes when we first come to know Christ. Other times it comes after we are believers who experience some kind of moral failure (big or small) and find ourselves in a position of brokeness before God. That's what I want to touch on this week.
Sadly, yes, believers fail God sometimes. And sometimes we get ourselves into real messes. And depending on the circumstances, we can find ourselves in a place that is embarrassing, and costly.... Very costly. I am talking about the kinds of costs that money cannot repair... emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. The kinds of costs that disrupt our lives... and sometimes cost us our jobs, our families, our friends, and sometimes, if the person happens to be in ministry, our churches. This is the kind of cost that bankrupts our lives.
And do you wanna know the truth?? (The truth is what sets you free!)
It's precisely where God wants you and I to be.
You see, it's when we are broken that we are most useful to Him in His kingdom. The heart of a servant who serves from the broken places is not likely to stray again.
Shepherding was a very common way of living in biblical times. And Jesus told a story about the wandering sheep and how the shepherd would go after the one that went astray (Luke 15:1-7.) I've heard it said that what Jesus was referring to was the practice of shepherds in His day relative to teaching a wandering sheep not to wander again.
The shepherd would go and retrieve the wandering sheep and before he would bring it back to the fold, he would break all four legs of the little wandering lamb. Then the shepherd would gently bind up the broken legs and place the little lamb on his shoulders, where he would remain until the wounds healed. During this time of healing, the shepherd fed the lamb, and he would carry him everywhere that he went. The shepherd would meet his every need, just as he met his own needs. When the healing was completed, the little lamb would then be allowed to return to walk on his own again. But from that point forward, the lamb would become a shadow to the shepherd. He would never stray from his side again.
When we are broken before the Lord, and allow the Lord to be the Only Healer of our wounds, we have the choice to serve Him out of our brokeness. If we allow Him to carry us, He will meet all of our needs. And as He allows those wounds to heal, we learn to follow Him.
Like that lamb who is allowed to walk again eventually under his own power, if our eyes are on Jesus during the entire time of our healing, it is not likely that we will find ourselves in the briar patches soon again.... We will fall right in step behind Him....
Paying attention to His every word for us.
Listening closely as He speaks to us.
Obeying all that He asks of us.
Remaining teachable as He teaches us.
Being a fisher of men.
Going to the least of these.
All from a servant's heart.
All from a broken servant's heart.
The prophet Isaiah wrote (about Jesus):
"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion-- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations." - Isaiah 61:1-4
Did you notice that He has come to set the captives free? But did you also notice that the freedom followed the binding of the brokenhearted?
Again, like that lamb, we've been set completely free to come and go as we please but now we are CHOOSING to follow.
Remaining at His heels.
Never. Straying. again.
Even when we could do our own thing, we choose to follow ONLY Him.
All for His good pleasure.
In some cases, we will be redesigned for a different purpose. In others, we will be scarred vessels who will be used in similar circumstances to where we were before. But it's not up to us to decide how or where or when He will use us, or whether He will choose to use us again. That's for Him to choose. And for us to obey, and in whatever capacity He chooses to use us, if He chooses to use us, we will be content.
Our job is to look to Him, and simply follow.....