Has the road you’ve been traveling on seemed bumpy? Strangely, most of us have believed the foolish notion that if we are on the right road, it will be a trouble-free road. When we follow the Lord, it may seem like we’ve missed a turn and taken a wrong road.
The great apostle Paul once said, “To you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
Some of us may today be walking through a dark valley. F.B. Meyer once said, “No other route would have been as safe and certain as the one by which we came.” But we lament and complain, “Why God, why haven’t You let me in on Your divine reason for allowing this trial?” Truth be known, none of us get to know ahead of time why we are being tested in today’s trial.
Years ago, in a dark valley time, I heard a man say, “It is doubtful that God can ever use a person greatly unless He has broken him deeply.” It made me wince, but I know he was correct now.
When we think of horses, which of us would ride on an unbroken horse? Watch a good horse trainer break a wild stallion. Even if the trainer is a horse whisperer, you will notice the persistence of the same training over and over until the horse is compliant, submissive and willing to be saddled and ridden.
Few unbroken lives in this world are very useful to God or to others. We seldom fulfill our hopes and dreams without disappointments, significant hurts, unpleasant misunderstandings, and without some U-turns which make us retrace some miles to get back to the right road.
Are any of us today being broken? Have the dearest expectations of our souls been denied or has one of our dearest friends on earth been torn away from us? If we could see as God can see from His divine perspective, we would more than acquiesce to God’s road and His will. We would say, “OK, now I understand.”
Yet, when our paths are hard, cruel, and unending, we need to remember God’s promise, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Remember that wholeness often follows brokenness.
Recently, I was using a beautifully crafted mug for a cup of chai tea. I noticed the lip of the teacup was significantly chipped, even capable of cutting my lip. I didn’t want to throw the mug away as I paid for it and it was crafted by someone I respect and love, my grandson. I ventured a question to him, “Can a chipped mug be fixed or is it worthless?
He told me the broken area needed new clay applied to it, painted again, and refired in a hot oven. He asked if he could fix it for me. I was pleased for the mug to have a chance to be used again.
Thinking about a mug as having a personality, as an animate object, it made me ponder on the upcoming experience of my mug being remolded at the broken lip, repainted, and then refired. Mugs don’t think, thankfully, but thinkers think. I thought about the process.
Now the mug is back in my hands. The job is complete, and there is a tiny, almost imperceptible scar. The color of the mug has deepened into a bit of an even more attractive vessel. As I pondered the potter refashioning just the lip of the mug, I recognize God the Potter holds me in the palm of His wounded hands, in His hands that were crucified for me to redeem me. When we are in His hands, our future is secure no matter how dark the valley is or how hot it seems to get in our dark, death valleys.
Some of the hardest broken areas come when we must admit we’ve been on the wrong path. Charlie Brown once said to Snoopy, “I hear you’re writing a book on theology. I hope you have a good title.” Snoopy responded, “I have the perfect title: “Has It Ever Occurred to You That You Might Be Wrong?”
It’s hard when the broken chips in our mugs have come from our being on a road that seemed right, but wasn’t, a road we have insisted on for us or for others. Os Guinness said it well, “Either we conform our desires to the truth, or we conform the truth to our desires.”
When we turn our thoughts to God’s will, not our own, like a car, we’ll go in the direction He has pointed.
Richard Carlson is the pastor of the Rock Springs Evangelical Free Church. Of his 51-plus years in ministry, he has pastored locally for the last 42 years.