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Friday, October 2, 2015

Don't deny being broken

Audrey Hepburn once said:  "For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge you are never alone."  Think on that one a little and just ponder those three thoughts.  When we look for the good in others, we are bound to find it - because when we stop looking at others through critical eyes, we see the beauty in each of them.  When we speak words which build up and honor, we create a culture in which others may flourish and grow.  When we begin to live as examples of Christ's love, we can rest assured we are never walking alone - for not only are we walking with Christ, but others are drawn into this walk with us!  Wisdom brings strength - when we begin to apply the knowledge we obtain along our path in this life, we find not only inner strength, but an outward evidence of the strength which dwells within. 

Wisdom brings strength, and knowledge gives power. Battles are won by listening to advice and making a lot of plans. (Proverbs 24:5-6 CEV)

Knowledge gives power - because the basis of wisdom's strength is in the application of the knowledge we gain by walking side-by-side with Christ and with others who serve him.  As we often would like to think, strength and power often "co-exist" in this world, but I would challenge that one a little.  I have known a lot of powerful individuals who seriously lack moral strength.  I have known physically and emotionally strong individuals who lack power over some of the basest of urges in their lives.  It is not always true that strength and power co-exist, nor that they are always governed as they should be in our lives.  The truth of the matter is - we need a plan to live right, then we need to work the plan, then we need to be wise enough to know when the plan needs to be reworked along the way!  This is evidence of wisdom!  Ernest Hemingway said, "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."  Battles come and go in our lives - some are spiritual, while others are emotional or physical.  Regardless of the battle raging, we need to remember the place of strength may not always be the place where we don't bend or break!  It may be found at the place we became the most broken!

Broken people aren't weak, or lacking in wisdom and strength.  They are simply able to learn from the places they have experienced their brokenness - they apply what they have learned to make them even stronger where they were found to be the weakest!  Sometimes this is our greatest opportunity for learning what truly gives us strength in life - what gives us the power to endure and motor on in the face of trials and temptations greater than we might have ever imagined possible.  Brokenness is sometimes viewed as being "damaged" by what life brought your way - but I choose to think of brokenness as the place Christ can intervene to give me strength beyond my capacity!

Helen Keller faced tremendous obstacles - living in a world of deafness and blindness, yet achieving so much more than most in her position ever imagined possible.  Most of us don't realize even one of these handicaps which could present the greatest of obstacle in and of itself.  Yet, when she was faced with two of them together, she did not let it keep her from learning how to communicate with the use of her hands - something not ever realized as possible before.  There are times when we face obstacles which seem to present challenges to what we know to be possible - but then we are prompted to do what seems to be "unknown" or "unappreciated" as the means by which the challenge or obstacle may be overcome. It is this "stepping into" the unknown or previously unappreciated that often becomes the means by which we break-through into a new level of victory over the obstacles we face.

I think she said it well:  "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."  Maybe this is why the greatest places of strength in our lives are born out of the greatest areas of weakness and brokenness!  For it is in the place of brokenness that strength has the chance to finally become evident.  Just sayin!