God seeps through the cracks.”

I heard that statement today.  I thought it profound; wish that I had originated it (there is my pride); and wondered why I had never heard it before (I thought I knew everything!).

It struck me as so true…at least in my life and I can only speak for myself.

When I have thought that I had it “all together,” when I’d cruised in my spiritual pilgrimage, my heart tended to harden as if it had been plastered over. It hardened slowly…undetected by my increasingly numbed spiritual radar. Ultimately I deluded myself as I subtly relished my self-sufficiency and amazed myself with my “strength.”

I was never overt about it, of course–even to myself. I did not recognize it. It was a subtle pride that had the face of humility. No one knew, and I did not even know myself. The heart is truly decitful above everything else. I am amazed at how often I don’t understand my own journey, motives, and desires.

The signs of my increasing apathy were obvious…in hindsight.  Rushed prayer time, skipping morning meditations, only exegeting Scrpture rather than savoring it, decreased patience in relationships, more interested in accomplishments than in transformation, etc., etc., etc. There were always many indicators but none were recognized as spiritual lethargy. This was especially dangerous when I was not living in community and sharing myself with others. As my heart grew callous, I would withdraw or isolate but in ways that were not obvious to others or even to myself. If I even noticed, I sacrificed it on the altar of “busyness,” or fatigue, or intrusions by others, or…well, there are many excuses, aren’t there?

But then it would happen. Several times in my life it has happened with a thunderous crash but at other times it has been a stumble in my gait. Brokenness–tragedy or sin or both–would enter my life. It seems that only brokenness gets my attention; only brokenness arrests my degeneration. My heart grows so hard that only breaking it opens up the possibilities for divine grace, power and renewal.

Grief has broken my spirit at times, sometimes in titanic ways. Sitting with Job, I could cry “My spirit is broken” in the midst of loss, despair and hurt (Job 17:1a).

Sin has broken my spirit at times, sometimes in titanic ways. Sitting with David, I have experienced the humility of guilt and wept as “my sin [was] always before me” (Psalm 51:3b).

But God seeps through the cracks.

The broken heart provides the spaces into which God’s love, compassion and comfort can at first trickle into and then rush into my heart. Plastered and sealed my heart resists the flow God’s presence, but broken God pours his love through the cracks. The seepage becomes a mighty river flowing from the heart of God into my heart, healing its wounds.  Once broken, but now repaired, my heart now participates–ever so slowly and so imperfectly–in the likeness of God’s own heart. There–in that process–I experience peace.

It seems my life has been a cycle of peace, then pride, then brokenness, then–by the grace of God–peace again. I’ve grown through that cycle. It has been painful. I would not choose it. I wish there were a different way. The peace does not come easily, quickly or painlessly. But the peace is beyond understanding and it holds a joy that is inexpressible. 

Today I feel the healing. Today I feel the joy. Today God is binding my wounds. 

“[Yahweh] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

6 Responses to “Brokenness”

  1.   wjcsydney Says:

    Thank you, John Mark. That resonated with me!

  2.   richard constant Says:

    the lord said seek and you will find.

    why is it john mark?
    that most of us. maybe it is the schools,
    seem to grade on a subjective curve.

    and most of us look down the curve.
    and say i am glad i am not them
    and when we look up the curve.
    we see we see the glairing reasons why not to change…

    i am sure you know and i am sure i know.
    and god looks straight at each and every one of us.
    drawing us into his peace saying come on rich you can do it “i am right here for you are’nt i.”
    but lord is the glass half empty or half full?
    it really dosn’t really matter at this point rich,now,does it. do good and when you fail.

    Psa 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

    DO GOOD!

    blessings john mark and all

  3.   Q Says:

    God does have a way of seeping in.

    In my own life, I’ve noticed it more than ever in the last six months. I felt as though I’d shut the door, slammed it and walked away — but God seeps in.

    I hid — from myself? from him? doesn’t matter — and covered myself with the appearance of normality — but God seeps in.

    Continually, when I think I’m drowning, God is suddenly in the midst of the flood and part of the flood, a redemptive overwhelming.

    I’m thankful that now and always, the times I find myself apart, my God seeps in.

  4.   clyde s. Says:

    God is so good. I can only say that it’s amazing grace that I get to be in ministry. And when I was close to burn out, the LORD delivered me. The LORD brought me into a clearing and set my feet on a wide path.

    And when I have been hurt more deeply in preaching than I could have ever seen coming, the LORD has been there to bind up the brokenhearted…to seep through the cracks.

    Thank you for your post. Somehow it’s healing to me to read about your healing. Maybe that’s the power of testimony at work?

  5.   Phil Says:

    Does not your confessed circular pattern of living (peace, pride, and brokenness), surface throughout scripture and reveal it’s patterns today? It is our story rooted in scripture, it is our story lived today, and it is our story that will become perfect when all things are fulfilled. Praise be to God that our story involves those broken times and that his grace is sufficient. Thanks for the post!

  6.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    Indeed it does. It is the cycle in Judges…it is the cycle of redemptive history itself (creation, fall, curse…)…it is the pattern of David’s own life, etc. It is a grace and joy to recognize that our stories are not unique (we have companions on the journey) and that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.


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