Recently, in the news we’ve all heard of the tragic events surrounding Hurricane Sandy which hit the northeastern coast of the United States. Over $20 billion worth of damage is estimated to have occurred and many lives have been lost. Don’t you think it’s odd that we name such cataclysmic events after lovely ladies names… like Sandy or Katrina or Cyclone Tracey. I know a Tracey and she is a lovely lady. Why don’t we call them ‘Hurricane Hitler’ or ‘Hurricane Lucifer’ or ‘Cyclone Frankenstein’? Just a thought!
No matter how sturdy or stable a house, boat or car looks pre-hurricance, if the hurricane winds are strong enough then the object will have no power over itself to determine where the wind blows it. There are massive implications in the spiritual dimensions of life as well.
One of the symbols of the Holy Spirit is Wind. All throughout Scripture we read of the wind of God’s Spirit blowing upon his people and world events (Ezekiel 37, Acts 2). John 3:8 says, ‘The wind blows where it wishes. You can hear its sound but you don’t know where it comes from or where its going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit of God.’
Believers are born of the Spirit of God and are children of the wind of God’s Spirit blowing upon people. I’ve observed, though, that after a number of years, some believers become very static and inflexible when it comes to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The opposite should be the case. The longer we walk with God, the more flexible, dynamic and passionate we should become as we anticipate the blowing of the Spirit in our lives.
Unfortunately, hard-heartedness anaesthetises us to the Spirit’s leading in our lives. A hard heart disguises itself in religious activity and piety (Pharisees) but really finds its seed in pride which leads to rebellion. Hebrews 3:7-8 says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as in the day of rebellion.’
What stirs God’s heart to blow a hurricane in our lives is a soft and broken heart before him. It’s not that God can’t blow upon a hard heart, he does all the time (after all, how could any of us be saved), it’s that he delights in blowing upon a soft heart. Psalm 51:17 says, ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart O God, you will not despise.’ Are you a bucking stallion that needs breaking or do you have a soft heart that the trainer (Holy Spirit) is able to bridle and ride into God’s purposes on?
Does anyone out there still struggle with sin?
We don’t like to see our human brokenness through the lens of sin but it is apart of our fallen humanity and it’s helpful to clarify what sin is, if we’re going to overcome it. Sin (hamartia) is defined as missing the mark or more specifically, to fail to live according to God’s intention and design. Because we have failed to live according to God’s original intention and design we are easily misled by the environment around us as well as our own hearts. We are also weakened by our flesh that delights in compromise and we actively resist the wisdom and truth that alone can set us free. In short, we can’t save ourselves, we need Jesus!
Our rebellion against God has caused a spiritual canyon between us and God that only God’s Son is able to remedy. As a result, apart from Christ, our lives epitomize the reflection of a broken mirror, that needs God’s Spirit, truth and community to heal.
There are 2 basic marks of sinfulness that every human has to grapple with:
- Immaturity – Demonstrated by a failure to take responsibility for your actions or situation in life and characterized by impulsive behaviour based upon how one feels.
- Insecurity – Underlying insecurity is FEAR. Fear of not being valuable or significant in your own eyes or the eyes of the world around you. Insecurity causes oneself to compare themselves to others and it results in coveting and jealousy of what someone else has.
None of us are born into this world fully mature or completely secure, be it physically, emotionally or spiritually. We have to experience a process of growth in all aspects of our humanity. Unfortunately, you can be fully mature physically and yet be immature spiritually and emotionally, if you haven’t responded to God’s work in your life. Maturity and security are byproducts of a healthy relationship with God, one’s self and others.
When we find that we miss the mark (and all of us do in some way and often), it’s not going to help to simply give up on yourself or on life but God gives us the grace and power to get up again and grow closer to the mark of maturity and security in Christ. All of us have missed the mark and fallen short of God’s intention and design for us but nothing in our past, present or future is a good enough excuse to give up on God’s love, grace and power to help us grow into the people he’s called us to be.
Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
The outer man needs to be broken before the inner man of God’s Spirit can be released to impact people’s lives. We sometimes wonder why God seems to be holding back the fulfillment of his promises. It could be because God is breaking the outer man to ready our inner man for the call he has for us. The longer we fight the breaking process, the longer we delay what God wants to bring into our lives. Don’t take 20 years what you can learn in 1 year. Respond Godward and not man-ward when trials come and you will grow into the call of God on your life quickly.
Before Jesus death, a woman came with a very expensive perfume and anointed Jesus body for burial. It wasn’t until the alabaster box was broken that the fragrance of it could be appreciated by all the people in the house. It isn’t until our soul and flesh has been broken that the true fragrance of the Spirit of God in our lives can be appreciated by others.
One of the ways that God allows the breaking process to outwork in our lives is through God’s discipline. I remember going through an extremely difficult season in my life and I asked God what was going on. He said, “I’m disciplining you.” I said, “What for?” He took me to Hebrews 12:5-11 and showed me that it wasn’t what I had done, it was what he was preparing me for. If I didn’t get disciplined, I was an illegitimate child. V11 says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Do not regard the discipline of the Lord lightly and don’t be weary when God breaks you. He is molding you and shaping you for a higher purpose. The breaking process can look like lots of different things – rejection, disappointment, delay, difficulties, trials, tribulations and hardship but these tombstones are all stepping stones to God’s higher purposes for you.
Your call won’t be realised apart from brokenness. No amount of cleverness, gifting or talent can compensate for a lack of brokenness. God’s call is fully realised by those who have been broken and harnessed by the Spirit of God as he intends.