When you walk into a Christian bookstore, you will find an assortment of books. Most of them will be books that tell you how to fix your marriage, how to pursue your dreams, how to have a happy family, how to get along with your co-workers, etc. But rarely do you find a book on brokenness.
To our ears, the word brokenness may sound a little harsh. Wasn’t God supposed to heal our hearts? What about the new heart we are supposed to receive? Yes, He does do these things within us, but He must break the old heart before He can give us a new heart. In this book, Nancy Leigh DeMoss helps readers understand that God desires a broken and contrite heart so that He can fill, revive, and bless us through His Spirit. (see Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 57:15)
Because Nancy has experienced brokenness in her own heart and life, she is able to tell real stories of what brokenness looks like. She recounts one in particular where she was asked to speak on this very topic to a large crowd of Campus Crusade for Christ staff. She spoke on the deadliness of pride and our desperate need for humility. That day, the Spirit moved. Score after score of people came to the microphone, openly confessing sin before God and their fellow believers. God revealed Himself in an amazing way that day, causing many to grieve over their sin, ask God for forgiveness, and rejoice over the joy and freedom He brought to their hearts.
So, what exactly is brokenness? Brokenness is the emptying of ourselves and the filled of Him; it is the shattering of our self-will. Through brokenness, the real condition of our heart is revealed and we are brought to His feet in humility. We grieve over our sin and come before Him in true repentance knowing that He is able to cleanse us from all sin. Our hearts will open fully to Him as His light enters our hearts, exposing every sin. This brokenness is not comfortable, but it is a change that will leave us no longer wanting to live for ourselves. All that we used to hold dear will seem common, and we will stand as empty vessels desiring to be filled with the riches of His grace through Christ Jesus. This brokenness should not just be a one-time event, but a continuous lifestyle. And, though this seems like such a great paradox, we will experience freedom and joy like never before because He is freely working in and through us.
To bring this brokenness about, God will use ordinary means to bring extraordinary changes to our hearts:
1. The Word of God- “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) God uses His Word to bring us to an awareness of who He is, who we are, and how far we fall short of His standard.
2. Circumstances- God may use difficult situations to bring us to the point of brokenness. It may be a difficult marriage, broken friendships, or a co-worker who is hard to get along with. Many times we try to fix everything when we are the ones who really need to be fixed. We think our prideful opinion is right and everyone else is wrong. Yet, when God grabs our hearts and helps us see that our goodness is nothing apart from Him (Psalm 16:2), brokenness enters in and we begin to seek to live a life dependent on His righteousness.
3. The Body of Christ- When we gather with other believers, we are surrounded with sinners saved by grace and transformed by His Spirit. As we seek to live a life of brokenness, we should seek to be transparent before other believers. This should involve seeking to right every wrong and offense we have committed toward them and allow them to point out spiritual blind points in our lives. Again, this step of transparency can be painful, but it will help you to practice humility and give glory to God for the good in your heart.
Where is your heart? Are you putting your faith into the good things you do, even going as far as to justify or cover up sin? In this book, Nancy pleads with her readers to listen to God’s Spirit and not resist the brokenness He desires. Brokenness is the only way to have the freedom to live a life wholly for the Lord.
As you seek to have a heart revived by brokenness, may this be your prayer:
“Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked come to Thee for dress,
Helpless, look to Thee for grace,
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.”