~by Pastor Mike Middaugh
I really like these words from Robert Lupton author of Theirs is the Kingdom on being used by God even in our brokenness.
I once saw a large tree that had been struck by lightning many years before. The trunk was badly split and bent, but the growth of recent years was sturdy and straight. Bark had grown over much of the once-exposed heartwood, leaving the trunk misshapen but well protected. How is it, I wondered that a tree could grow to strength and maturity around such a crippling injury?
I once knew a young man born in the inner city. His self-concept was badly scarred from parental neglect, racism, rejecting teachers, and years of failure. His values were deformed by the survival ethic of the streets and by the hurt that had become a burning core of anger. I saw new growth form a protective covering over his open wounds and broken dreams. A strong new character developed, marked with unique sensitivities and perceptions. How is it I wondered, that a young man can grow to strength and maturity around such deforming childhood experiences?
I once knew a Christian counselor whose life was marred with sin and whose character was bent toward deceitfulness. He struggled with rebellion against authority. His need for power was intertwined with his efforts to serve. He was plagued with insecurities. Spiritual and emotional growth, as well as years of socialization, largely concealed the kinks and twists at his core. But i knew how gnarled his character was, for I knew him better than anyone. How is it, I wondered, that god could use him to be a healer of others?
I have seen God take the broken, deformed things of this world, bless them with new life and sanctify them for his special purpose. From a broken tree, God provides shade in the summer. Form a deeply scarred youth, he forms a person of unusual compassion and understanding, a model of hope to the disheartened of the inner city. From the twisted personality of a counselor, he shapes a healer of emotional pain and uses a rebellious nature for creative purposes.
I am reassured to know that the straightness of my grain is not a precondition of usefulness to God. And I am humbled to see that out of the twistedness of my wounds, he designs for me a special place of service.
I would add one final story to this list: from a crossed and splintered tree marked with nails and blood, God formed a suitable habitation for a King. From a man outcast and afflicted, God brought forth reconciliation, healing, and renewal for the nations. Surely our God is a God who redeems that which is flawed, His love lifting up the undeserving.