Some of you know that I’m a worship leader. I’ve been leading worship for 20+ years. Yes, I started when I was 10. I love different melodies in music, but I’m really interested in lyrics specifically. I scrutinize them. Sometimes I even ask out loud to no one in particular if the artist singing those lyrics has any idea what they’re singing about. Not intellectually, or even theologically, but experientially.
Last week, in Blessed To Be Broken: Part 1, I told you about Laura Story’s song Blessings. Well, knowing that many recording artists don’t actually write their own songs, I was curious to find out who wrote about pain, and tears, and sleepless nights, and disappointments. And who was speculating that these are the things that it takes to know God is near. Well, come to find out, it was Laura herself. She penned all those words from her personal story, while she was smack dab in the middle of the pain. She knew what she was singing about.
Same with Lacrae in his song Broke.
There’s a worship song that I used to sing, and I didn’t really think much about the lyrics - at least I didn’t consider whether or not I believed what I was saying. The chorus goes, “All I need is You, Lord. Is You Lord, All I need is You.” So, before Brian died, I didn’t have a problem at all singing those lyrics. But not long after he died, I was back at church singing this song. And let me tell you, I couldn’t utter those words. In fact, I was screaming inside, “No! That’s not all I need. Yes, I need you Jesus, but that’s not all I need. I need my husband back. I need him here with me!” I wonder if the person who penned those lyrics lost a loved one. Did they ever have a time in their life when they thought, God is not all I need? Or, like Lacrae, did they get to the other side and realize that, truly, all they needed for healing, and provisions, and love and wholeness was truly God? That they were richer for it all.
Here’s another song that I have always loved. It was a constant in a set when I performed "back in the day." It’s called Bring The Rain, written by Bart Millard - lead singer of Mercy Me.
To the best of my ability at the time, I understood and resonated with the lyrics.
The first verse says, "I can count a million times, people asking me how I can praise you with all I've been through."
The answer that totally resonated within me were in the next set of lyrics:
"Maybe since my life was changed long before these rainy days, it's never really ever crossed my mind to turn my back on you, oh Lord, my only shelter from the storm. But instead I draw closer through these times."
It's true. How and why turn my back on the only ONE who can help me now??!!!
But here's the hard part of the lyrics that never really bothered me before that I wrestle with now (and I'll explain why): "So I pray, bring me joy; bring me peace; bring the chance to be free: bring me anything that brings You glory. And I know there'll be days when this life brings me pain. But if that's what it takes to praise You, Jesus, bring the rain."
Really? Bring me ANYTHING???
I've experienced one of the hardest "ANYTHINGs" and don't wish that one on my greatest enemy...much less would pray for that for myself. To be honest, I'm not asking God to rip up my heart to shreds and shatter my earthly life just so I can praise Him. Please, Lord, don't bring the rain!!! It's not a soft, gentle rain. It's a torrent, with downpours pelting my tender skin...and heart. But the thing about it is, “ANYTHING” is going to come. One way or another. That's the way this life on earth goes. Darkness and evil preside. Sin and disease pervade our daily living.
So perhaps the lyrics should say, "When joy comes; when peace comes; when fulfillment comes; when prosperity comes; when pain comes; when drowning rain comes; when confusion comes; when loneliness comes; when instability comes; when my heart is shattered, there I will praise You."
And then the rest of the lyrics make sense: "I am Yours regardless of the dark clouds that may loom above, because You are much greater than my pain. You who made a way for me by suffering Your destiny. So tell me, what's a little rain?"
Bart Millard wrote this after his brother-in-law passed away and his son was diagnosed with diabetes. He said, quote “It’s a challenge to be able to say, “God, bring the good with the bad, and either way I’m going to praise You.” End quote
This is the challenge of a lifetime, right?
Oswald Chambers rightly said:
"Once you are rooted in reality - in the Sovereignty of God -, nothing can shake you. If your faith is in experiences, anything that happens is likely to upset that faith. But nothing can ever change God. Base your faith on that. Once you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you will never be moved again."
I think this is why these and many others, including me, are able to say I am blessed to be broken. Being rooted in your faith, being solid in your personal relationship with Jesus, is what is transformative when you are broken by the circumstances of life. And knowing that in that brokenness you have the privilege of becoming richer, more complete, more satisfied than you ever had an opportunity to be in any other circumstance…and ever thought possible. The beauty of knowing Him more intimately is greater than anything else you could ever dream or desire. It’s the ones who have been broken who know this best.
I want to end by telling you a little bit about shepherds and the flock of sheep they are responsible over. If there is one of the sheep of the flock (and most likely a young lamb) that is particularly independent, a wanderer, that puts the rest of the flock in jeopardy, the shepherd will break the little legs of the lamb, bind them up, and then wrap that little sheep around his neck until the break heals. That lamb would be rendered helpless, save the loving, benevolent care of the shepherd.
I was thinking - what it would be like for that little lamb to be on the shoulders of the shepherd? That little lamb could hear the very breath of the shepherd as he traversed the land. And he would be so entranced by the rhythmic pattern of the shepherd's breathing that he could be at peace no matter what else was going on around him. And being that close, is it possible that the little lamb’s breathing becomes one, in sync, with the shepherd’s? He could see (and even taste) the sweat of his brow. The little lamb could easily (and probably, readily) kiss his shepherd's face in love, loyalty, and gratitude. His face would be right next to his shepherd's at all times - so that when others saw the shepherd, they also saw the little lamb. And visa versa. And that voice! He would, most definitely, recognize his shepherd’s voice when he spoke. The lamb could not only hear the shepherd's voice clearly, but he could feel the vibrations and frequency of the shepherd's voice move through his own little body. His little face would be wrapped right around the shepherd’s neck and that little lamb could feel the heartbeat pulsing through the veins in his neck. I wonder, then, if the little lamb’s heartbeat gets in rhythm with the shepherd’s, as if they were one.
Of all the sheep in that flock, that little lamb is blessed beyond measure. Blessed to have been broken. One with the shepherd. Because of his brokenness, that little sheep knows the shepherd more intimately than all the other sheep in the flock. Oh, so blessed to be broken.
What about you, friend? Have you been broken, too? Have you recognized the privilege it is to be carried on your Shepherd’s shoulders? What if you haven’t, yet, recognized this? Let me say this, whether you know it or not, your Shepherd is carrying you in your brokenness. He is desiring for you to become one with Him - to get in sync with His heartbeat; to breath in the same breath pattern. He invites you to rest your head, snuggled up under His chin - safe, secure, intimate. He has chosen you, in your brokenness, to carry you until your breaks heal; until you feel strong enough to stand on your own; until you know you can completely and utterly depend upon Him, because He’s trustworthy and safe.
Blessed to be broken - you are.