Makings Through Breakings

By David Berg

My mother often used to say, "The Lord had to break my back in order to break my will." She spent five long years in bed before she finally got the point and yielded her life to the Lord. But look how the Lord was able to mightily use her once she submitted to the breaking, repented of her sins, and completely turned her life over to Him. She had a tremendously fruitful life and ministry in which countless souls were saved and multitudes of broken bodies and broken hearts were healed, thank You, Jesus!

The trouble with most of us is that we want to be used just as we are; we don't want to be broken. But God only uses broken people; no others will do. Others are too proud and self-confident in their talents and natural abilities, and would take the glory to themselves if God were to use them. This is why He chooses and uses the weak things, the foolish things, the despised things, "that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Corinthians 1:25-29).

The list is almost endless of all the men in the Bible whom God had to humble before He could use them, of all the leaders God had to bring down to the depths before they could stand to be exalted--lest they would have taken credit to themselves and not given God the glory.

Look at Joseph. Of Jacob's 12 sons, he was his father's favorite. His elder brothers finally became so jealous of him that they nearly killed him, threw him into a pit, and then sold him into slavery. But that's what the Lord used to humble him. Joseph had to be made a slave and a prisoner and be condemned as a criminal before God was able to exalt him to become the savior of His people (Genesis 37, 39-41).

And look at Moses. For 40 years he was groomed in the very courts of Pharaoh, and rose to become the second-most powerful man in all of the mighty world empire of ancient Egypt. The Bible says he was "educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22), but God could not yet use him to lead His people to freedom, for he was full of the ways of the world and not the ways of God. Moses had to be broken first. So God allowed him to become a fugitive from Pharaoh, and he had to spend 40 years in the wilderness doing nothing but tending sheep, until finally he was broken and humble enough for God to use him for the great task He had designed him for (Exodus 2, 3).

Consider King David, the greatest king that Israel ever had: He fell in love with Bathsheba, purposely had her husband, Uriah, killed in battle, and then tried to lie and cover up the entire crime. God had to completely expose him, humble him, and severely judge him. And he was soon driven from the throne by his own traitorous son, Absalom (2 Samuel 11, 12, 15).

But was David's fall really a fall downward or a fall upward? God's way up is sometimes down--usually, in fact. Just the opposite of what we think! David was humbled, and the whole kingdom was humbled, and they were all reminded that it was only the Lord who made them great. From that squeezing and twisting of David's life came forth the sweet honey of the Psalms, and the fragrance of his praises to the Lord for His mercy--a lesson that's been an encouragement to other great sinners like me and you ever since.

The great, brave and mighty prophet Elijah was able to call down fire from heaven to confound the false prophets of Baal and to prove that he was right (1 Kings 18). But after slaying hundreds of false prophets, he panicked and ran away from one little woman, the wicked Queen Jezebel. Hiding out in the wilderness, he became so discouraged that he wished that he might die. But there in his time of desperation, this prophet of fire and thunder became a meek little man who learned to listen to the still, small voice of God. He became a much better, humbler instrument in the hands of the Lord--a prophet who fearlessly returned to face not only the queen, but the king and all of their soldiers (1 Kings 19 and 21).

Look at the apostle Peter. He was so proud and self-confident that he swore to Jesus, "Though all others forsake You, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death" (John 13:37; Luke 22:33). But just a few hours later, when Jesus was seized by the temple guards and hauled before the Jews' religious court, some people outside the building recognized Peter and pointed him out as one of Jesus' followers. Peter vehemently denied that he even knew Him, cursing and swearing that he had no idea what they were talking about (Mark 14:66-71).

As he was denying the Lord the third time, Jesus, who was being led by His captors to another part of the building, turned and gazed upon Peter, and Peter suddenly remembered how he had sworn that he would never deny Him. The Bible tells us that Peter then "went out and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:62). Was this the end of Peter's service for the Lord? No! It was shortly after this humiliating defeat, this great failure, this breaking of his pride, that the Lord anointed and raised up Peter to become the leader of the early church.

And consider the great apostle Paul: He had been a prominent Jewish leader, the rabbi Saul, and had personally taken it upon himself to put an end to the fast-growing sect of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Journeying by horseback to Damascus, where he intended to capture, imprison, and execute as many Christians as he could find, God had to literally knock him off his horse and blind him with the brilliant light of His presence. Trembling, helpless, and blind, the once proud rabbi had to be led by the hand into the city, where he was so astonished that he was unable to eat or drink for three full days. A disciple of the Lord then came to give him God's message and pray for his eyes, and Saul was converted and became the apostle Paul. God had to humble and break him first, and make him a new man before He was able to use him (Acts 9).

In fact, this is the story of every one of us who is of any real use to the Lord's work. To get us to be what He wants us to be usually requires many breakings, humblings, and meltings, remolding, reshaping, and remaking into a better vessel--better than we were, better than we thought we were, and much more yielded and useful for His kingdom.

But the Lord won't force it. The breaking depends upon you and your yieldedness and willingness to be made willing. Such tests, trials, and tribulations will either soften and melt you, or harden and embitter you. Suffering makes you either bitter or better, one or the other. So watch out that you don't get hardened, bitter, and resentful in your heart against God when you're going through it. His Word says, "Look diligently, lest any man fail the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness spring up and trouble you, and through it, many be defiled" (Hebrews 12:15).

If you let trials humble you and melt you, you'll be a whole lot happier, because you'll be drawn a whole lot closer to the Lord. But if you allow yourself to be "hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13), you'll wind up like the guy in that horrible poem, "Invictus": "I am the captain of my soul. I am the master of my fate. My head is bloody but unbowed." Even though he was bruised, buffeted, and bloodied, he still insisted on being his own boss and would not yield or "bow" to the Lord.

Some people, no matter how much God does, even if He beats them over the head, they'll still not get the point and bow their head to Him. They'll still not call out to the Lord and confess that He's their captain or their master. Though their head is bloody, it remains unbowed. What a hell of a picture of the unyielding sinner in his rebellious defiance of God. How much better the beautiful picture of the true saint, the yielded sinner, on his knees saying, "Lord, please be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13).

If you harden your heart against the Lord's dealings with you, if you resist the Holy Spirit and harden your heart against God's love and against His truth, truth resisted will lose its power over your soul. Every time you resist the truth, you're hardening your spirit against the Lord. It's like when you have a little tender spot on your foot where your shoe has been rubbing. At first it's very, very sensitive, really sore; it hurts. But if it keeps on rubbing and keeps on rubbing, pretty soon you build a big callus, as the skin gets thicker and tougher and hardened.

Hardening your heart is not the solution. He says, "Harden not your hearts" (Hebrews 3:15). Rather, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee. Seek ye the Lord while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite (broken, repentant) spirit" (Psalm 55:22, 34:18; Isaiah 55:6).

Whatever God does, He always does it in love. "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust" (Psalm 103:8-14).

The Lord loves you and is even "touched with the feeling of your infirmities" (Hebrews 4:15). But He knows that He will never be able to fully use you as much as He would like to unless you are humbled and broken up a bit. When He can get you out of the way, then He has a chance. When you become nothing but a tool and a channel--nothing but a little diamond of dust--then He can mightily use you. So that Jesus can live and think and move in you.

He makes us through breaking us. For unless God is able to break your heart and your spirit, you'll never be really useful to the Lord. And you'll never know how to love the poor lost world and sympathize with and reach others with His love. If He can just break and melt your heart, then He'll woo and win it, warm and melt it, and make it bright and happy and burning with His love. So you can share that love with others. As Aaron used to sing:

God says, yield to Me, and I will break your heart.
Am I not He that hath set you apart?
That's why I gave on Pentecost day,
My Spirit to save and witness alway.
God says, Yield to Me, and I will break your heart.
You've got a job to do.
Don't quit till you're all through.
God really loves the lost, and cries a lot about it.
Don't fret about the cost.
He gave His Son, let's shout it.
He gave His Son, let's shout it.
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
He's still the same today, in Him is your relief.
You can feel His broken heart,
He'll live through you today,
A heart that's broken for lost souls.
Just let Him have His way.
Yield to Jesus, and He will break your heart.

Such great love You've given us, such great mercy You've shown us, how lovingly You deal with us. Perhaps sometimes it doesn't seem loving to us, and we chafe against it and we think it's severe and harsh, but even then, Your dealings with us are loving, Lord. Because if that's the only way that You can get through to us, and if that's the only way You can show us, You love us enough to do it, even though You know it hurts.

Help us to submit, to yield, to let You have Your way, no matter how hard it seems, no matter how much it hurts. Help us to be willing, Lord, willing to go through these breakings so we can be remade by You. Help us to yield, to be humbled and broken, to be nothing, so that You can work and live in us, so that Your glory can be seen in us, in Jesus' name.

"My grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Yielding to the Lord may not always seem like an easy thing to do, to be able to sincerely pray in each time of testing, "Not my will, but Thy will be done." But remember, Jesus promised that He would make His will easy. He said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

He promises that His yoke will never be too hard, nor will His burden be too heavy. So if you take it from the Lord, and do His will, it's not going to be too hard or too heavy. Just believe it by faith because Jesus said so--even when it seems like it is too hard and too heavy.

God has promised that He will never allow a load on your shoulders that's more than you're able to carry. He says, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: For God is faithful, who will not suffer (allow) you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

He'll never give you anything more than you're able to bear. So if you ever feel like the tests, trials, and battles are more than you can bear and you just can't make it, they're more difficult than you have strength for, they're greater than you are, remember, the Lord is greater than they are. So take them to Him. Draw close to Jesus and get desperate with Him and lean on Him.

Give me a task too big,
Too hard for human hands;
Then shall I come at length
To lean on Thee;
And leaning find my strength.--W. H. Fowler

When the burden and the load seems too heavy for you, remember the story of the little boy who was trying very hard to lift a heavy piece of furniture. His father came into the room, and noting his son's struggle with it, asked him, "Are you using all your strength?" "Yes, of course I am," the boy impatiently exclaimed. "Oh, no, you're not," the father answered. "You haven't asked me to help you!"

When you're weak, then His strength can come in--if you'll lean on Him. He says, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in your weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Many times when you are weakest in the flesh, you are strongest in the spirit because you just have to completely throw yourself on the Lord. You don't know how you're going to make it, but He can make it for you. God knows you'll never make it on your own. But if you'll just yield and surrender to Him, then He will make it through you. "For it is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

So, Lord, we just ask that Thy will be done in each of our lives, to get out of each life what You want, Lord, and to put into each life what You want, that we may do Your will to bring many, many more lives into Your kingdom for Your glory. You told us that You can only use broken people, so please break us as much as You have to so that we're only dust and we're nothing, and then You can remold us and use us in the way that You best see fit.

Please keep us close to You and Your will, submitting to You in every area, in Jesus' name, amen.

Are you letting the Lord lead your life? Are you ready for anything? Anything God wants you to do? You are if you're willing, if you sincerely want to please and follow Jesus and be what He wants you to be.

Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day!
Yielded completely to Jesus the Lord,
Every step of life's pilgrim way.
Just to be clay in the Potter's hands,
Just to obey what His will commands.
Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day.--N. J. Clayton