|One of my favorite poems from The Valley of Vision|
Paradoxes have always been brain candy for me. I remember when I discovered the book Valley of Vision in college. It is a revised collection full of puritan poems, prayers, and devotions, and they seemed to enjoy paradoxes as much as I do by the way they write their poems.
This past week I was reintroduced to a paradox that I discovered back in high school, and I have been so encouraged as I keep dwelling on it and praying about it. We all need to be broken in order to be made whole.
When reading the Scripture, God’s view of the proud and self-righteous person is strong. James 4:6 says that “God opposes the proud.” If you get a chance, take some time and do a word search through the Psalms of the words “break” or “broken.” God is pretty explicit about how He will break down the wicked, yet then in Psalm 34:18 it says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Here enters the paradox. Is it possible that God can be the one to break us and yet also be the one to heal our broken hearts? Well, my personality also has a paradox. I’m very stubborn, yet I’m also laid-back. Personalities always have some type of paradox, and God’s is an amazing picture for us to grow and become useful instruments in His hands.
I remember in high school, I thought it was cool to compare myself to an egg. An egg has to be broken to be used as anything worth value. An unbroken egg will eventually go bad, just like an unbroken person will eventually become…well, a rotten egg.
The point to brag on is not the broken shell though. Oftentimes people get stuck being proud about their brokenness. We throw that away and start praising God for how He can use us after we have been broken and submit ourselves to Him.
This became an important paradox to me in high school because that was when God began to break me down. Recently as I talk to those around me, many people seem to be in the broken state of mind, but they are not letting God heal them and use their brokenness. I struggle talking with people who are completely broken and yet still refuse to give their lives over to God. It is a painful place to be, and I know there is not much I can do for them.
He [God] heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
You [God] will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Bitterness against God doesn’t make sense. Our choice is either to be a rotten egg or a useful one. God wants to heal us and use our stories and experiences to further His kingdom. We just have to wrap our minds around the paradox that "the broken heart is the healed heart" (Valley of Vision). His process is not only good; it is perfect.