Groundwork for Brokenness
I had been experiencing a lot of pressure and frustration in my life a number of years ago. I was angry because I thought my goals in my work were being blocked by other people. My schedule was getting busier and I was becoming increasingly tired. Although I was in Christian work as a seminary professor, I was “running out of gas” in my life.
I went to my wife with my problems but she was in so much physical pain from a back injury that she told me, “John, I’d like to give you some comfort and understanding, but I am in too much pain. I just cannot take any more of your pouring out your tales of woe.” This left me feeling stranded because I had become emotionally overly-dependent upon my wife.
Through this pressure and frustration God was removing the “crutches” upon which I had been leaning. He was using the problems that I was experiencing to give me a desire for a closer walk with God.
The Process of Brokenness
For several miserable months that desire seemed unfulfilled because I was primarily viewing a closer relationship with God as a way to get Him to “fix the fix” I was in. Although I increased my Bible study and prayer I was not experiencing the peace and power that the Bible said I could have in my life. I became more troubled within and weaker and weaker.
Finally I asked God to show me what the problem was. It was early one morning that I opened myself up for the Holy Spirit to show me anything that was not right in my life. He did.
God showed me that I had bitterness toward several people who had put me under pressure and that I needed to forgive them. I did. I forgave them one by one.
He showed me that I was sinking in a pit of self-pity and that the despair would increase as long as I continued to be self absorbed. God convinced me that trusting Him regardless of my circumstances was the only way out of my pit of self-pity.
The Lord next faced me with the issue of His Lordship in my life. Would I let Him do with me whatever He wanted? I really “sweated out” this one for awhile since up until this time I had some rigid ideas of what I would let Him do to me. Finally I chose to entrust myself entirely to Him.
God was bringing me to a place of brokenness before Him. As I was humbled and teachable, I knew that the power for the Christian life had to come from God and not from myself, not my talents, training or personal strengths. This is something I had intellectually acknowledged before but had not personally appropriated. I had not turned from my fleshly reliance on my own resources.
In Christ and Christ in Me
The day after the Lord brought me to this place of teachableness, some friends gave me a copy of Handbook to Happiness by Charles Solomon. This book pointed me to the teaching of Scripture that when He brings us to salvation, God does far more than just forgive us of our sins and promise us a home in heaven. He takes us out of spiritual death in Adam and puts us into Christ’s life. He exchanges our identity as sinners in Adam for a new identity as new creation saints in Christ. We are placed in Christ and Christ is in us. Christ wants to be our resource for life because He came into us to express His life through us (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21).
God convicted me that this had not been happening because I had been living according to the flesh. That is, I had been trying to run my life my way and trying to get my needs met in my own resources or in others’ rather than in Christ. The Lord brought me to the place where I gave up on my flesh and turned from it. I personally trusted in what the Bible says about our union with Christ in His death and burial to the power of sin. I depended upon my union with Christ in His resurrection and ascension to walk in His victory (Romans 6:1-14). As I continued to appropriate His life rather than relying on myself, Christ gave me the peace, power and deeper walk with Him that had eluded me before.
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