The Christian life of brokenness

If we drop a piece of chalk on the floor, it crumbles into pieces. However, a piece of rubber band reshapes without losing a piece. The difference is in ‘reshaping’, or the ability to accept being reshaped.
This is the principle of brokenness, the readiness or willingness to be reshaped. The East African Revival made brokenness (okumenyeka in Luganda) central to its teaching.
As my wife now and I discussed our future before marriage, we placed on the table the number of children we each desired to have. I wanted five, she wanted four. One of us had to give in, to be broken. We settled for four, as I gave up my preference. That is brokenness.
When I began attending Revival Fellowships, I was intrigued by teachings I had not heard in our University Christian Union fellowships. The brethren freely and graciously would stop a brother or sister testifying from continuing if they appeared unguarded or did not exercise brevity, or if the time for testimony giving was up. They would ask him or her to ‘rest’ saying, “Wummula”. And people complied without complaining.
In modern fellowships, this would arguably be unheard of! We leave brethren to speak to their exhaustion. What would happen if we asked them to cease speaking?
We have lost the godly discipline of brokenness, as self-assertiveness has taken centre stage. Self-assertiveness and it’s sister ‘selfs’ are antithetical to brokenness, as they promote the uncompromising ‘I’. When we are not broken, we speak thus; I cannot forgive so and so, I am not as good as…, I’m better than…, Don’t you know who I am, I don’t need their opinion and the like.
Such idolatrous ‘I’ statements express unbrokenness and a self-centredness that worships the ground we walk on. Brokenness crosses the ‘I’. As Festo Kivengere put it, “When self is on the throne, it is conspicuously out of place … Revival begins by putting a line through the ‘I’ which is at the centre, and turning it into a cross.” Then we are free to rest as we let go what we are tempted to hold onto.
Brokenness is the continual willingness to surrender my will to God’s will and to heed the counsel of believers. It is NOT because I am right or wrong. Brokenness willingly says, ‘Yes’ to guidance from believers, thus prevailing over my preferred judgment.
And brokenness is not because of a sinful act. It recognises the vanity of the status or glory we want to die for, and letting go liberates our hearts from vain anxieties. Our first consideration becomes not our gain and honour but God’s glory.
Brokenness replaces resistance and self-assertiveness with humility and the readiness for counsel or repentance where we are wrong. This disposition is supremely essential in leadership. Unbrokenness is usually an element in the downfall of leaders. King Saul lost favour with God when he chose how he would ‘obey’ God rather than following the letter of God’s command, as given.
The opposite of brokenness is being stiff-necked. A stiff neck puts us in control though in actual fact we are controlled by our base passions and emotions. It gives a false estimate of reality and of our own positions and abilities. The fall becomes the only way down often causing irreparable damage.
It is impossible, not just difficult, to walk as a Christian without brokenness. Balokole cannot walk with Jesus or in fellowship with one another unless they learn Brokenness. Christ was broken toward God’s will when in the Garden of Gethsemane He said, “Not my will, but yours, be done”. So our brokenness is genuine Christlikeness.
Marriages fail where there is no brokenness because each insists on being right though there is evidently a problem between them. Simple decisions between them will fail until there is brokenness.
My wife and I have learned brokenness in both the mundane and major decisions of life. Nothing else in our marriage is more important than our relationship though money matters, children’s education, our vocations, and so forth loom large. They are all secondary to and exist for the benefit of our relationship, not the other way round.
Two people in a marriage cannot agree about everything. It has been said, “If in marriage the two agree for a year, one of them is a fool.”
To sum it all up, when David was confronted with his sin of adultery followed by murder, he did not retreat to his royal authority. This had already been emptied of moral authority. As he himself wrote, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Broken before God and man, he was restored to glory, albeit with dire consequences especially, to his family. Readers are left in no doubt what his fate would have been if he had not submitted to God in brokenness. Peter rightly says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
The way to rise is a broken and contrite heart. Leadership is validated and established for the broken-hearted. Amen.

Related posts

Leave a Comment