Sunday, June 19, 2011

The beauty of brokennes and grace


Blessed is the one who has no one to trust in but God alone.

I recall meeting a pastor from Nigeria once, long ago.  As he spoke at my (then) home church one Sunday, he said some words that became deeply imprinted upon my heart . . . words that shaped my thinking.  He spoke of the poverty of the Christians in his home country lived in.  Even with their little resources, they were nevertheless a joyful people.  A people that loved to proclaim the goodness of the God who had redeemed them.  They were a people who had nothing but Jesus Christ.

It moved me so much that I tracked him down as the service was ending.  Tapping him on the shoulder, I waited for him to turn to me, and then I spoke words to him.  I said,

"People all over the world think that Americans are rich.  We have money.  We have nice homes.  We have our own cars.  We have large church buildings.  But you come to us and say that you and your people have nothing but Jesus."

"We are not rich . . . you are rich."

And this gracious man smiled the broadest smile, spread his arms open wide, and embraced me in a true African hug.  He laughed a large, joy-filled laugh, and his laughter was infectious.

That day, he and I spoke the same language.  Not English . . . we both knew that quite well.  But we spoke the language of the ones who realize the gift of being broken, poor, and being able to find comfort in nothing but Jesus Christ alone. 

Since that day, I have had many people come into my office at church.  Broken and disheartened, they have all said the same thing, "I feel like I have nowhere to turn but to Jesus Christ."

And inevitably, I have broken into a broad smile, spread my arms open wide, and embraced them.  With joy in my heart, I tell them how deeply they just blessed me by saying that.  And I tell them what a great gift they have been given:  The gift of finding true riches in life's poorest circumstances.

Hebrews 12:2, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

The world has no shame that God cannot turn to glory.  The world has no sadness that God cannot turn to joy.  Because it is in those very moments that we find our idols have no power to save, our strength has no ability to lift us up, and all our wealth has no value.

It is in those moments that we see Christ most clearly, and we find that He dearly loves us with a love that cannot be broken.