We all have some form of brokenness in our lives. It could stem from a childhood trauma through to a relationship breakup. I’ve experienced both and know that we can’t just brush such things aside and hope for the best. They tend to still affect us years later. BUT GOD (don’t you love those two words?) but God wants to restore us completely.
Furthermore, He does it in such a way as to restore others as well. With the same comfort we have received we can then comfort others. God also has an amazing way of causing all things to work together for good, for those who love Him.
Brokenness: What does it mean?
The dictionary describes brokenness as: “1. Forcibly separated into two or more pieces; fractured: a broken arm; broken glass. 2. Sundered by divorce, separation, or desertion of a parent or parents: children from broken homes; a broken marriage. 3. Having been violated: a broken promise.”
Perhaps you’ve experienced one or more of these things. I want to encourage you today with some personal insights where God has spoken to me through a simple example from nature.
When I turned 50 I was given a potted olive tree from GOD TV, where I’ve worked for 18 years. I was touched by this somewhat unusual gift that arrived at my front door, however, it seemed a significant way to celebrate this milestone in my life. I didn’t realise then that it would become a prophetic metaphor that would bring me closer to God.
It seems silly now, but for some reason my wife and I named the miniature tree ‘Alfie’, a combination of the first two letters of my name and fifty! No, I’m not in the habit of naming plants but I guess this was a special one. Well, Alfie grew steadily and it was reassuring to see it bud once a year and bear fruit, signifying another year of my life.
The day came when Alfie had outgrown its pot and needed to be re-potted. Now I don’t know if this stems from past brokenness, but sometimes I can be a bit of a bull in a china shop…. and I made a huge mess of the procedure. I banged on the sides of the pot all the way round, as a gardening expert had instructed, but when it came to removing the tree from its old, limited environment, I lost my grip and dropped the pot. The tree fell practically splitting the stem in two. It was hanging together by only a thread.
I was devastated as this tree had come to mean something to me and now I had accidentally broken it like other things in my life. I had messed up again! BUT GOD spoke to me in that moment in the form of a scripture and He said, ‘A bruised reed I will not break’. I immediately knew this was a prophetic picture for me and not for me only. That He was calling me to rise above my past history and help pull others out of their brokenness.
You see, when you have break-ups in your life or others have left cracks in your confidence you feel disqualified, or in the worst cases where boundaries have been violated you feel that your voice has been silenced. God understands all that and He wants to turn it around.
As Isaiah 42:3 (Amplified) says:“A broken reed He will not break [off] and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish [He will not harm those who are weak and suffering]; He will faithfully bring forth justice.” God is all about restoring the broken, setting things right, which is justice in itself. For me, I knew God was telling me to finally put all hindrances in my life aside and walk in His strength.
I quickly grabbed some masking tape and bound the stem of the tree together. I thought in the back of my mind that if God can graft the Gentiles into the Jewish olive tree the book of Roman’s speaks of, then it had to be possible for this stem to graft back together! I prayed that somehow the tree would survive the ordeal. I re-potted it in a much larger pot and said, “Lord the rest is up to You, only You can fix this!”
A flourishing tree in God’s house
My wife and I watched daily to see what would happen. The tree seemed to be doing okay and we moved it into a sunny spot in anticipation that it would live and not die.
Now we have other potted olive trees in our garden. By some God-incidence my wife was given two olive trees for her milestone birthday. So no shortage of olive trees then. The thing is that it was Alfie that I wanted to flourish more than the others. Just like God refuses to give up on us, especially the broken ones because He knows He can fix and restore us. In our weakness, His strength is made perfect.
Do you know what? Nothing seemed to be happening with Alfie, but the great thing was that it was still alive and I put the whole thing out of my mind. Until several weeks later when God clearly spoke to me again through my morning devotional on YouVersion, the Bible reading App. I use Nicky Gumble’s Bible in One Year plan and the title for that day was, perhaps you’ve guessed it… Flourishing in the house of God, like an olive tree.
“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” (Psalm 52:8)
I knew then that this special birthday gift was going to be okay. That God was using this as an analogy for my life. That despite breaks and periods of little or no fruit, that He was going to take me into a season of restoration, growth and fruitfulness.
When I saw the other olive trees budding, it was obvious that the season for growth had come, but nothing was happening with Alfie. Each day I’d look. BUT THEN the day came when I saw the first nodes of growth appear and I knew the tree was about to flourish.
Flourishing is God’s best for us. Jesus came not only to give us life, but life in abundance. He is the antidote to any kind of brokenness.
Move beyond brokenness to become a great ‘tree’ for God
God wants to give us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness… that we will become trees of righteousness, His planting, so that He is glorified (Isaiah 61:3).
Furthermore, He talks about us being like trees planted by streams of water, that do not wither but bear fruit in season (Psalm 1).
Whatever brokenness has beset you, give it over to Him, As you meditate on God’s Word day and night you will know who you are in Christ and who He has called you to be. And, you will prosper despite the voices in your head that try and hold you back. Knowing your identity in God empowers you to let go of the past and help others do the same.
If you’ve been to Israel you may have seen the magnificent olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem. (pictured) Some of these are 2,000 years old, dating back to the time of Jesus. It’s hard to imagine a tree living that long, but it’s not hard to imagine that God wants to fix our brokenness. He also wants to give us a longevity, while we are on this earth, and bestow upon us a legacy that continues long after we are gone.
It’s time to set aside that bruising and flourish like an olive tree in the house of the Lord.