Monday, July 15, 2013

Picking up the pieces of the Breaking point

Car problems that claimed the life of our old van...

Everything in this universe wears out; just try to keep gym-shoes on little boys and you know this.  A screen-door only opens and closes so many times.  Your car's engine only turns so many revolutions before the engine will seize up.  I'm no physicist, but I guess even water one day can break?

We aren't "things" though, we are people.  Even good people, strong people hit a breaking point, but does this mean we are done?  Are we irreparable like a worn-out spring?  Does our "will" to go on disintegrate, beyond being salvaged?

I can think of several areas in life where this question becomes significant:
  • A husband & wife who find their rocky marriage has ground them down like dust
  • Parents who have a prodigal child, their fountain of tears have dried up
  • A new believer who hits the "institutional" wall and is blinded by the disillusionment
  • The graduate with the freshly minted degree who finds out all that glitters isn't gold  

I remember sitting in Dr Shackelford's class at Harding,on the wisdom & poetry books of the Bible.  It was there, many years ago, I was introduced to Brueggemann's insights into the Psalms, namely there are many Psalms that have a threefold progression where the Psalmist communicates a state of being oriented, disoriented, reoriented.

Life follows that progression.  Everything is calm and we have sense of well being.  The storms hit, and we are disoriented.  Then, through God's providence, we find a new state of being, a better perspective on the other side as we are reoriented.

We can't choose when the calm times will end and we enter into the chaos -- not always.  Sometimes our actions result in painful consequences, sometimes an outside influence is the catalyst.  But.  The choice is always ours on whether or not we choose to stay in pain.  Sure, the timing might not be to our satisfaction for when relief comes.  And, it might be a road we don't want to travel down.  But we aren't "things" that wear out and break.

We are broken people who are renewed, often in need of daily renewal: "Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?  You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again." (Psalm 71:19-21 ESV)

Do you want to be a "victim" or a wounded soul, or do you want something better?  The truth is, we are tattered and threadbare, in our best times.  When we rely on our will power or personal strengths, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

So what do we build our hope on?  God's strength; as Paul explains how God works in or through our weakness, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you." (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 ESV)

There are no silver bullets, magic wands, or shortcuts on the road to success.  For those who wish to finish well, there is always hope, perseverance, dedication, and an acknowledgment that God is better at being in control than we are.

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