Have you ever experienced a shattered dream or a broken heart? Maybe a failed marriage? The death of a loved one? A child with an incurable diagnosis? A ministry that just never quite got off the ground? Lost your job? Lost your home?
You likely have experienced a shattered dream of some sort, and if you haven’t you almost certainly will. None of us can live long upon this earth, without experiencing some level of shattered dreams or broken heart.
Shattered dreams tend to leave us feeling disoriented and incomplete. For weeks, months or even years, afterwards, we continue to feel like we have a big hole where our heart is supposed to be, and a big emptiness where our sense of purpose once resided.
Several years ago, I was living in a rapidly declining marital relationship. I had spent many hours in prayer, over the course of several years, petitioning God for relational healing and restoration. I did see God work in powerful ways, multiple times during the course of that marriage. However, every step forward (which I met with optimistic enthusiasm) was followed a few months later by two steps back (which fell on me as soul-crushing heart-break).
During the last few years of that ever-declining spiral (which ultimately ended in divorce) I found myself so emotionally drained that I wasn’t even sure how to pray, anymore. I remember several months of simply praying, “God, please heal me. I feel so broken and empty. Please, God, I need your healing touch. How long will you leave me wandering in this wilderness of pain and brokenness?” Notice that by this point I was no longer even praying for healing of the marriage. It was all I could do to trust God for my own emotional and spiritual healing.
One morning, during my quiet time, God led me to read the story of Gideon, in Judges 6-8. After reading how God used Gideon, in a powerful way, to defeat the enemies of Israel, I said, “God, I don’t feel much like Gideon. I’ve tried to walk in faith and courage, but I haven’t seen the miraculous victories that you gave to Gideon.”
“Who, in this story, do you feel like?” asked God (for the record, I have never, yet, heard God speak to me in an audible voice, and our conversations are seldom as linear as I am relating here. Nonetheless, we do converse, and this conversation would have been something like this if it had been audible).
“Lord, the only thing I can relate to in this story, right now, are the pitchers that the 300 Israelite warriors smashed when they surprised the surrounded enemy (Judges 7:15-23). I feel like my heart has been broken and crushed, just like one of those pitchers.”
“Yes, I know,” said the Lord, “And how do you feel about that?”
“How do I feel about it? I feel hurt! I feel disappointed! I feel broken and useless! How long are you going to leave me like this? When are you going to heal and restore me, so I can be whole and useful to you, again?”
“Joe,” queried Abba, “Why was it necessary for Gideon to break the pitchers? Why couldn’t the pitchers be left whole?”
“Lord, the torches were inside the pitchers. The pitchers had to be broken so the light of the torches could shine out and be seen.”
“Joe, you’re seeing yourself as a pitcher that is no longer useful, because it has been broken. You need to realize that my design for you is to be a lamp. Those gaping holes that you keep worrying about, wondering when I’m going to fix them? I put those there so the light of my glory can shine out from your life, to be seen by others.”
So be it!
He is the potter, who chose me and predestined me for His ministry, before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6). He knows His plans for me, plans for hope and a future, not for calamity (Jeremiah 29:11).
The thing is, that is really my heart’s desire, too. I don’t want to be a pitcher designed for holding and storing. I want to be a lamp designed for shining the light of God’s glory.
More than anything else, my deepest heart’s desire is to be used of God to touch the lives of others. If He can somehow use this brokenness to shine the light of His glory? If people can look at my life and see His glory, instead of my old selfish nature? Absolutely! Lord, mold me and use me!
Please, God, make me into a lamp that shines brightly. Lord, please complete the good work that you have begun in my life!
What shattered dream has left a gaping hole in your soul?