For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. (Isaiah 53:2)
Oh, how I love my Saviour! It is with joy that I consider my risen Lord, restored to His rightful glory, seated in power and majesty at the right hand of the Father in heaven. I am daily reminded of the truth that they who have been forgiven much, love much. This is the incredible gift of grace, one so extraordinary that the Son of God Himself met me here, in this frail space of brokenness, sin, suffering and rebellion. It is with a source of awe that I read this verse from Isaiah and consider the lengths He was willing to go to to seek out the unlovely.
So many things come to mind, not the least of which is the utter paradox that the King of Glory, when He came to earth, became utterly unrecognisable through His suffering, even simply as a man. That is a truth that cannot fail to move my heart. Even prior to the cross, Isaiah tells us that He presented as ‘totally ordinary.’ The Son of God took on the form of an exceptionally ordinary, even unnoticable, man. And yet it highlights the apparent ‘paradox’ inherent in the heart and purposes of God. It captures a truth that underpins our faith, because it speaks to the spirit of every single believer.
It is an astonishing truth that, inherent in God’s purposes, His intention is building the beautiful from the broken. He is, as it were, the supreme ‘recycle’ artist. It’s there right from the creation of the world, where the earth was void and with without form. Other versions use the word ‘chaos.’ From this, the Creator-God has shaped a universe of such infinite detail and perfect interaction that we cannot but be awed at the magnitude of His power. Creation leaves us breathless, because even as it manifests the glory of God, it reminds us that it is an extraordinary achievement, way beyond our limited ability to describe or understand.
The entire Bible is a sequence of events, a history of how God creates the extraordinary from the ordinary, culminating in the eternal fulcrum of the cross, the point at which He revealed this in His own person, His Son. Jesus provides the pattern for what God does in our own lives. He came as one so ordinary we would not have given Him a second glance but for the fact that He challenged the accepted norms and lived entirely for the glory of God by the power of the Spirit. He became, at His death, scorned, mocked, humiliated, tortured and even spiritually broken – the point of absolutely nothing left – so that, in His own resurrection, He could accomplish the extraordinary in His new life in us.
The image of an egg is both a simple and rich example. Outwardly, it has nothing even remotely attractive – a plain, spherical object obtained from something entirely as ordinary, a chicken. Yet inside, is life. Rich in nutrients, excellent – and often essential – for any number of culinary uses, the egg nevertheless isn’t the stuff of grand imaginings. But it also has the potential for new life. Within that shell, a new life grows, unseen and untouched, a potential totally unexplored. Ultimately, though, both sustenance and life will never be fully realised unless the shell is broken.
Having lived a life of seemingly endless brokenness, pain, and struggle, having lived battered and bruised for most of it, I can personally testify to the wonder and joy inherent in this truth. While I cannot begin to understand the unfathomable purposes of God, I can understand that a broken and contrite heart is of far greater value in Christ than one that is secure and confident and relatively untouched by suffering. I can understand that the things we are called to endure, and the things that we may unwittingly, through wrong desires and wrong choices, bring upon ourselves, can be used by hand of God to shape a life for His plans and purposes.
Ironically, it’s often the strongest among us that must go through the most to bring us to the place of yieldedness. The stronger we are in and of ourselves, the less use we are to God because we are self-driven, self-sustained and self-satisfied. Perhaps, had I been less obstinate, less full of misplaced pride, less determined to prove myself despite the difficulties, my journey might have been easier. All too often, our own attitudes determine our path. But I am assured that knowing brokenness is part of knowing Christ. We cannot hope to know Him entirely here in this world, but in the shattering and breaking of our fleshly shells, we learn – intimately – a small portion of what He endured.
This is the very joy of salvation and of a life of grace in Him. It the sure and certain knowledge that a broken vessel will be shaped into something beautiful in Him. A life that is broken to the point of death is one that will find true life – the life our God intended for each one of us. And it prepares us to reveal Christ to others. It forms in us the love and compassion of Jesus for the suffering and the lost. It helps us, by the Spirit at work in us, to see beyond the shells of people and into the broken life inside. It enables us, in Him, to reach people in that place, to touch the unlovely with a love that is so much more than we could ever be, and to ‘live salvation’ so that the ministry of Christ will continue.
I love my Saviour because He first loved me, despite who and what I was. I love Him because He came to meet me in the wasteland of my life, and there He wooed me with gentle words and sweet forgiveness. I love Him because He never gave up on me, even when anger and bitterness and resentment caused me to push Him away. I love Him because He so freely gives Himself – His all on the cross, and His all in this new and wonderful life that is Him in me and me in Him. I love Him because brought me back to the Father’s love, given me hope and joy, and surely turned my mourning into dancing. Most of all, I love Him because He is. His life is my life. His joy, my joy. His suffering, my suffering. This King of Glory, this Son of the Most High God, this eternal, living Word, is all-in-all, the very breath we breathe.
Jesus, precious Saviour, how great Your goodness, how immeasurable Your love, how perfect Your grace. Help us to see that, in You, brokenness is a blessing. For ourselves, in the new life You give, and for others as we surrender to Your plan, purpose and will and You shape us for Your use to reach and touch others. Thank You for Your abiding presence and the joy it brings, and give us each the courage to allow the breaking to make way for the building of something beautiful, a reflection in each one of us of Your love, Your grace, Your mercy and Your glory.