The modern age has left us with more than rusting massive heaps of machinery now sitting silent behind old buildings infested with green jagged weeds. It has left us with huge misguided ideas, just as silent and rusted, sitting behind the warehouses of our thinking. We assume great leaders, much like the products of those machines, are formed by assembly lines of schools, seminaries and an occasional mentor, who will fine tune and cast us into a bin for packaging and delivery. In fact, God has a very different way of creating the people he uses. He enrolls his choicest servants in a course of highly customized study, advanced lessons in crushing pain.
"When God wants to do an impossible task, He takes an impossible person and crushes him." - Alan Redpath
If you think about it, you could legitimately conclude that no one in Scripture who was greatly used of God avoided this crushing education. Paul learned through brokenness that God's grace is sufficient. Job learned the great gain of great loss. Moses learned and relearned his need for constant dependence upon the Lord. Joseph learned that great dreams can endure crushing realities. Then there is David.
Brokenness is God's way. Talent, youth, vigor and ability are the raw materials that infuse our desire to be great leaders. The problem is that those raw materials can’t function in the way we need or the way God desires. David, with warm anointing oil dripping down his young back had all the raw material to be king. Yet God knew that another arrogant, insecure king, dependant upon his own ability, would not do. So he enrolled David in an extended course in crushing experiences.
Very few enroll voluntarily in God's school. Fewer graduate. It’s a small school that can’t field a sports team, and there are no pep rallies. There’s no time or desire for such trivial pursuits. The classes are highly customized. For David there were classes entitled "How to Avoid Being Impaled by a Spear;" "Madness: How to Work for a Mentally Deranged Boss;" "Modern Cave Dwelling;" War on Multiple Fronts;" "Leading a Rabble to Victory." There were also some very personal and painful lessons, like "Married to an Impossible Person" and "How to Love and Lose a Best Friend."
David had to learn to be attacked and never throw a spear back. In fact, what he was learning was how to trust and depend on the Lord as his only source. No wonder the Psalms, David's private collection of poetry and song, is dominated by songs complaining, weeping over the pain of his lessons. Yet David finds the Lord in the fog of his suffering. He never seems to completely lose his focus upon the Lord. So he graduates with the honor of being known as "a man after God's own heart." He was crushed and broken, and the world was filled with the fragrant aroma of God's grace in and through his life.
We find another successful graduate from this school, where few enroll but many are welcome, lying in a bed of affliction. Broken and crushed while these words streamed from her pen:
One by one He took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Until I was empty-handed;
Every glittering toy was lost.
And I walked earth's highways, grieving.
In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting,
"Lift your empty hands to Me!"
So I held my hands toward heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches,
Till they could contain no more.
And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God COULD not pour His riches
Into hands already full!
-Martha Snell Nicholson
I have no idea what impossible thing God has planned for me, but I am quite sure I am an impossible person. I long for my crushing to be used for His glory. With my stupid and dull mind I also comprehend that only He can pour His riches into and through my open hands.