I like to pretend that I have it all together. I mean some days I feel like my mind is as sharp as a razor, my faith is as big as a mountain, and I can walk on water. But the truth is, other days I walk around in a fog, my faith is more like a shriveled raisin, and I feel like I’m slipping around on ice.
I’m a driven man and I push myself to do more and more so that I don’t have to slow down long enough to ask myself the really hard questions. Questions like, why are you so driven Len? Who are you trying to please? When is good enough good enough? What does “good” even look like? Why do arrogant people make you so mad?
I can’t speak for others who are driven, but I think that I’m driven because I always feel the need to prove myself…over and over and over again. The funny thing is that I don’t even know to who or what I’m trying to prove myself to. I’m certainly no psychologist, but I wonder if behind every Facebook boast, Christmas letter that floats on water, or accomplishment that we feel compelled to let people know about that there is a hurting little boy or girl looking to the world for acceptance and praise. Good job Len. Way to go Len. I’m proud of you Len. If the world can’t satisfy this thirst then why do I still keep going back to this empty well? Am I the only one who feels this way?
I know that my Christian friends who may be reading this right now are probably embarrassed for me because we all know that God is the only one who can truly satisfy our spiritual and emotional thirst. But if we know this why do we keep going back to the empty well? Why is it not OK for Christians to say that our day was crappy or that we don’t have it all together sometimes? Are we afraid that people who are not walking with Christ will be turned off by ordinary people who occasionally cuss and eat and drink too much? Show me a Christian who seemingly has it all together and I’ll show you either a great actor or a person who has had a lot of hurt and brokenness in their life.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a fake Christian. I want to be the real deal. I’m convinced that brokenness is the only path to true humility. I am also convinced that the best witness that Christians can give to a hurting and broken world is to share that we are hurting and broken people too. We just have found a Source of hope comfort to help us deal with our brokenness.
Psalm 51:17-18 says, “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
What does it mean to offer a sacrifice of a broken spirit? It’s easy to skip a few meals or give God our money, but are we willing to give him our brokenness? Are we even willing to admit that we are a broken people?
We are taught, especially as men, to never show our weakness. I was taught to put up a brave front at all times. Well, it’s exhausting carrying around charades. The apostle Paul was someone who seemingly had it all together. He graduated at the top of his class and was respected by the Jewish religious leadership. He was going places. Paul had a sharp mind, faith as big as a mountain, and he was figuratively walking on water when it came to religious accomplishment. Then God crushed him. In a blinding light on a dusty Damascus road God crushed this accomplished and learned man. God told a skeptical Ananias to go to this broken man because Paul was “a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16).
God appointed Paul to suffer for His name’s sake. I don’t like to suffer. I prefer comfort, security and pleasure. I’d be first in line to volunteer to be comfortable for God. Secure for God. Satisfied for God. But suffer for God?
What was this suffering that God put upon Paul? Well let’s read what Paul said about his ministry, suffering and weakness as recorded in 2 Corinthians 11:5-31
5 I don’t think I’m in any way less important than those “super-apostles.” 6 It’s true that I haven’t been trained as a speaker. But I do have knowledge. I’ve made that very clear to you in every way. 7 I preached God’s good news to you free of charge. When I did that, I was putting myself down in order to lift you up. Was this a sin? 8 I received help from other churches so I could serve you. This was almost like robbing them. 9 When I was with you and needed something, I didn’t cause you any expense. The believers who came from Macedonia gave me what I needed. I haven’t caused you any expense at all. And I won’t ever do it. 10 I’m sure that the truth of Christ is in me. And I’m just as sure that nobody in Achaia will keep me from bragging. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? No! God knows I do!
12 And I will keep on doing what I’m doing. That will stop those who claim they have things to brag about. They think they have a chance to be considered equal with us. 13 People like that are false apostles. They are workers who tell lies. They only pretend to be apostles of Christ. 14 That comes as no surprise. Even Satan himself pretends to be an angel of light. 15 So it doesn’t surprise us that Satan’s servants also pretend to be serving God. They will finally get exactly what they deserve.16 I will say it again. Don’t let anyone think I’m a fool. But if you do, put up with me just as you would put up with a fool. Then I can do a little bragging. 17 When I brag about myself like this, I’m not talking the way the Lord would. I’m talking like a fool. 18 Many are bragging the way the people of the world do. So I will brag like that too. 19 You are so wise! You gladly put up with fools! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who makes you a slave or uses you. You put up with those who take advantage of you. You put up with those who claim to be better than you. You put up with those who slap you in the face.21 I’m ashamed to have to say that I was too weak for that!
Whatever anyone else dares to brag about, I also dare to brag about. I’m speaking like a fool! 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Do they belong to the people of Israel? So do I. Are they Abraham’s children? So am I. 23 Are they serving Christ? I am serving him even more. I’m out of my mind to talk like this! I have worked much harder. I have been in prison more often. I have suffered terrible beatings. Again and again I almost died. 24 Five times the Jews gave me 39 strokes with a whip. 25 Three times I was beaten with sticks. Once they tried to kill me by throwing stones at me. Three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 I have had to keep on the move. I have been in danger from rivers. I have been in danger from robbers. I have been in danger from my fellow Jews and in danger from Gentiles. I have been in danger in the city, in the country, and at sea. I have been in danger from people who pretended they were believers. 27 I have worked very hard. Often I have gone without sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty. Often I have gone without food. I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, every day I am concerned about all the churches. It is a very heavy load. 29 If anyone is weak, I feel weak. If anyone is led into sin, I burn on the inside. 30 If I have to brag, I will brag about the things that show how weak I am. 31 I am not lying. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus knows this. May God be praised forever.
So what are you bragging about today? What am I bragging about today? Are we bragging about our strength or our weakness church? It is not comfortable telling others that we don’t have it all together is it? People might take advantage of us if we do that. Right? We might have to suffer ridicule and lose our stature in the eyes of others if we admit our weakness. Right? So I’ll ask you and I’ll ask myself again, if the world can’t satisfy my thirst then why do I still keep going back to this empty well? Is it because there is comfort, security and pleasure blending in or standing above the crowd?
I believe that Jesus is waiting for His church at the less crowded well. The well where hurting and broken women go to draw their water, away from the crowded well. The well where religious rules are sometimes broken in the name of love. The well where living water can be found. I think that I’m ready to go back to that less crowded well. How about you?