Broken Things

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Good morning and God bless you again this morning and give you a wonderful day.

As we so often have greeted you at the close of the little meditation, our hearts are assured again by the things we see and the things we hear, that God has His hand on the helm of the universe and prayer changes things. May you come to a greater realization of that today than you ever have in all of your life as we talk to you today about “broken things.”

I had a tiny box, a precious box
Of human love—my spikenard of great price;
I kept it close within my heart of hearts
And scarce would lift the lid lest it should
Waste its perfume on the air. One day a strange
Deep sorrow came with crushing weight, and fell
Upon my costly treasure, sweet and rare
And broke the box to atoms. All my heart
Rose in dismay and sorrow at this waste,
But as I mourned, behold, a miracle
Of grace Divine. My human love was changed
To Heaven’s own and poured in healing streams
On other broken hearts, while soft and clear
A voice above me whispered, “Child of Mine,
With comfort where with thou art comforted,
From this time forth, go comfort others,
And thou shalt know blest fellowship with me,
Whose broken heart of love hath healed the world.”

R. A. Torrey (1856-1928)

There is many a life whose rays of helpfulness and sweetness would always have been hidden and undeveloped had not that life been broken. A. B. Simpson, that wonderful writer, has written this, called “The Potter and the Clay,” and part of our story today is from the 18th chapter of Jeremiah, about the potter and the clay.

Down by the house of the potter,
I went with the Lord one day,
And I watched while he slowly fashioned
A vessel from plastic clay.

Slowly on the wheel he turned it,
Shaping it with patient skill;
Till the plastic clay was molded,
According to the Master’s will.

But as I watched his working,
He turned with a look of pain,
For the vessel in his hands was fractured,
His work seemed alas in vain.
Something in the clay had marred it,
Somewhere there had been a strain;
And the work must be suspended,
The potter must begin again.

Then as I watched and wondered,
He took up the clay once more,
And around on the wheel he turned it,
And fashioned it o’er and o’er.
Patiently he pressed and shaped it,
With a bright and smiling face;
Till at last from the wheel he took it,
A vessel of surpassing grace.

O Lord, Thou art our Potter,
And we the plastic clay;
Mold us to Thy perfect will,
And lead us in Thy way.

Adapted from “The Potter and the Clay,” by Albert B. Simpson, 1904

In this chapter of Jeremiah 18 when Jeremiah was sent by divine order down to the potter’s house, and he sees the potter make a vessel, which in the making is marred, God’s Word tells us that the potter made it again another vessel. (Jeremiah 18:1–4)

There was doubtless some hard, unyielding lump in that clay, so that it broke upon the turning wheel. The lesson from the Lord in this scene is that if we do have a desire to know God, if we have a desire to be used of Him, and yet we are unyielded, not submissive, He’ll have to break us for our own good and for our own worth in usefulness, and make us into a better vessel.

There may be someone listening in now that in pride or self-sufficiency or pure willfulness you’re rebelling at God’s will. That hardness of heart has to be dealt with, not in anger by the Lord, but in love and mercy, to make a better vessel, the vessel He intended you to be. You know, it just shows so truly God’s love and care, that He, the mighty God, will stoop to the trouble of making a better vessel—a vessel of beauty—out of your life, rather than just casting you aside because you’re unsurrendered.

Oh, many times I’ve had to cry to the Lord, “Lord, don’t take Your hands off my life!” And I know there are many that are listening in that are thankful that God loves us enough to deal with us. He wants us to be conformable to His will. We can say with all our heart, “I know Thy will is glorious and best. If there is any hardness in my life, any sin or self, and I’ve allowed it to go unchallenged, Lord, deal with it. Mold me and make me after Thy will, remove everything foreign to Thy will even if it means a broken vessel. Thou canst make it a better vessel!”

Great Master, touch us with Thy skillful hands;
Let not the music that is in us die;
Great Sculptor, hew and polish us, nor let
Hidden and lost, Thy form within us lie.

Spare not the stroke; do with us what Thou wilt;
Let there be naught unfinished, broken, marred;
Complete Thy purpose that we may become
Thy perfect image—Thou, our God and Lord.

From “Great Master, Touch Us,” by Horatius Bonar (1808–1889)

You know, it’s strange how few broken things are useful, but God uses only broken people. God has to have broken, empty vessels, and these become His chosen vessels. No Christian is of real service until he’s deeply humble, and that comes only by a real breaking. Like Gideon’s broken pitchers that let the light shine out only after the breaking, then the victory came.

A little poem has been written by one of the great men, that is by John Hay. This is what he said, he was the great Secretary of State1: “The will of God for us is not something that we’re to be resigned to in a sort of melancholy, reluctant way, but something we are to feel jubilant about, because of what it is going to do through us, in making us malleable and submissive.” Then he brings us a real lift in this lilting little poem:

Not in dumb resignation
Lift we our hands on high,
Not like the nerveless fatalist,
Content to do and die.
Our faith springs like the eagle’s,
Who soars to meet the sun,
We cry exultantly unto Thee,
“O Lord, Thy will be done!”

Adapted from “Not in Dumb Resignation,” by John Hay, 1891

So many of the old saints of God in God’s Word never amounted to much until they were broken. Even Jesus’ body had to be broken before His sacrifice was complete. The great spiritual truth is that God cannot make of any life what He desires unless it is absolutely submissive.

Oh, He has a plan for every life, everyone that came into being in this world. If we miss that plan by failing to seek God’s will by being surrendered in His hands, our lives will be forever defeated and frustrated. Always we’ll have the feeling that somewhere, oh somewhere, we missed the mark. Life will be meaningless.

There is not a happier, more peaceful place in the world than the center of God’s will, where you’re wholly submissive to His desires, utterly yielded in His loving hands, this precious Potter.

So many times this process has been likened to the potter molding the clay into the vessel he desires it to be. I wonder what kind of clay we are today. Are we malleable, plastic, capable of being molded? God grant it shall be the case in your life.

If men would but believe that they are in the process of the making, they would let the Maker handle them as the potter did the clay, yielding themselves in resplendent submissive hopefulness into the turning wheel; that is, God’s hands. Then, before long, they’d find themselves able to welcome every pressure of that hand on them, even if it was felt in pain sometimes.

Not only to believe, but to recognize the divine, all of His divine purpose in view. God grant it shall be the case that “not a single shaft shall hit until the God of love sees fit.” (From “Sovereign Ruler of the Skies,” by John Ryland (1753–1825)) May you know that in your life, if you are in the breaking process.

Let’s have a little word of prayer. Father, bless every scripture that we have given. Thy Word says, and we claim it for these today, that “a broken spirit and a contrite heart, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:17) Thou wilt not despise, Lord, and Thou wilt not cast aside the broken spirit. We pray, Lord, for a brokenness of spirit in us all, that we might be more useful to Thee. In Jesus’ precious name, we ask it for a blessing on each one.

Remember, God is still on the throne, prayer changes things.

  1. John Milton Hay (1838–1905), U.S. Secretary of State under presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.