She tapped my husband on the shoulder and quietly said, "Tell your wife I was broken today." The woman's words ring in my head like a song. I have been replaying those words repeatedly in my head, for several days. What a bold statement. One that required no thought, simply a reaction. A reaction to one who had just been stripped, in a matter of an hour.
Behind the walls of Century Regional Detention Center, the largest women's jail in the United States, lies a wealth of misery. Women broken by this world. Women who are cheats, liars, master manipulators, lost and unwilling to be found. And yet, in this hell, amongst the filth, lies small pockets of women whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Women who have truly been washed by the blood of Christ and who will one day, with pure hearts, will sup together at the Wedding Feast of God. Behind these unforgiving walls are women who find themselves in the midst of their own personal Hell by divine order. Women who have essentially found themselves in this place in order that they might come to a saving knowledge of Christ. Women who, by divine appointment, needed to be taken to their lowest, to be broken in order that Christ might lift them up.
"Tell your wife I was broken today," the woman said, as a result of learning about the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years in Mark 5, the paralytic who had been let down through the roof in Mark 2, and the shame and guilt the Prophet Ezra faced because of the very sins of his people, including both the religious and political leaders at that time, in Ezra 9. So ashamed Ezra said, "I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the Lord my God; and I said, O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens." (Ezra 9:5-6)
Brokenness is necessary in the life of any man or woman who desires to know God in a most intimate way. It is necessary in the life of any man or woman that desires to be used of God in such a way that men would look at the life of a Believer such as this and marvel, saying "That could only be by the hand of the Living God."
A term that is virtually unknown in this day an age. A word that is despised and rejected by the masses. A word that denotes weakness and loss in the mind of the common man. A word that very few are willing to embrace because of the heaviness that comes with it. It is a state in which a common man finds Himself before a Holy God in a helpless state of affairs. A state in which the pride of life has been stripped from him only to find himself naked and unveiled before the Lord. Brokenness is a lonely state. It is one in which the loneliness and heaviness of having a deep and intimate relationship with the Lord will be revealed. And even in a dim light, this lonely state of existence will almost be too much to bear. We find this very state in the Garden of Gethsemane when Christ sweat drops of blood from the anguish and brokenness He was experiencing, "And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39) Brokenness is necessary for any man that desires for God to do the impossible in and through His life. Brokenness can only be present in the absence of pride. It can only manifest itself in the presence of a Holy God. Brokenness cannot exist apart from the working of the Holy Spirit. It can only occur in the heart of a man that, even for a small instance, realizes his state in the presence of the Almighty.
Oh, how we need to be broken! "How often we bewail and bemoan the sad fact of broken lives, but find later that only broken things are used by the Lord and that only after we are broken are we our very best for God." (Broken Things, M.R. Dehaan)
God has been speaking brokenness into my life as of late. At every turn I find myself being given the same message. I need to be broken before the Lord if I desire to move mountains. I am not sure what this means. But He has been speaking so clearly. He desires to take a praying man or woman and take them into the depths of brokenness in order to reveal Himself, to reveal His very heart. It causes me to wonder why it is that God, very God, the Living God whom I serve is so broken. Not in a sense of weakness or loss, but why it is He mourns to such a degree. The answer is simple.
The sin of man and the love of God.
The overwhelming love of our Creator causes an overwhelming brokenness over the Creation. Deep love cannot exist without deep sorrow and brokenness when the relationship has been marred by sin. True brokenness is not a state of being that manifests itself through emotion, rather it is an ongoing state in which man is taken to the brink of sorrow over the sin of man and is yet brought back to life when He finds Himself in the presence of the overwhelming love of God. Was it not that Christ had to be broken, almost beyond repair, in order to save sinful man? What then is it that is calling us to brokenness?
"Tell your wife I was broken today," the woman said. The words ring so clearly in my head, much like lyrics to a well known song. Quite a bold statement for a woman who lives behind concrete walls, only able to breathe recycled air, who day in and day out witnesses the severe consequences of sin in the life of fallen man. Quite a statement from one that you would have assumed had already been broken for some time due to her state of affairs. Quite a statement. I wonder if I will ever be able to make the same, in order that I might know God in a most intimate way. He has made it very clear, I must know Him in His suffering, as this is the very place where I will begin to understand the depth of His overwhelming love.
"I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who's broken
The one who's torn me apart
You struck down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering"
Burn the ships! We're not going back! Leaving an eternal mark on this world, one calle at a time.