I have been working through a personal struggle lately. It’s something that doing full time ministry has exposed in me, a conviction so to speak. That conviction is this: if I’m in the business of bringing people to wholeness, I need to be whole myself. Everything that I do as a missionary is in the interest of wanting people to experience the wholeness that comes with living a Spirit filled, miraculous life with Jesus. But if I have brokenness in me that I haven’t dealt with, then at some point, I’m not going to be able to help somebody get over their brokenness. If I’m broken, at some point in my ministry, I will look past brokenness in someone else because that’s what I’ve been used to in my own life. I won’t even be able to identify brokenness because, if ignored in my own life, eventually it will seem normal. And the people that I am ministering to deserve better than that.
So this realization has forced me to deal with some things and I’ve learned a lot through it, and I would like to share some of that journey with you. This is a little bit of a different post than I usually do. I’m being a little more vulnerable and personal than usual, but it’s my hope that it adds a layer of relatability and might touch just one more person because of it. If you like this aspect of personal journey being added into my writing, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can continue to write relevant material that people enjoy reading. Because I can have the most incredible revelation but if it’s not an enjoyable read, it will never get out, so I appreciate the feedback on what you guys like to read.
As I wrote this piece, it got really long, so I’m actually going to break it up into two sections. The first section is going to be a bit about my personal journey in this area and the second section, to be published either later this week or early next week, will be about the biblical milestones that I fall back on to help me cling to this revelation. I hope this hits you and speaks to your heart because I know it’s powerful and as children of God, we’re designed for wholeness. It was never the intention for us to live broken. Amen? Ok, so here we go:
We’ve all lived through seasons where we are just constantly getting yanked around by our emotions. A lot would say that they are always in that season, it is a constant battle. Even when we’re happy, we feel like we’re not in control of that emotion and there is still a part of us that, in happiness, is still distressed because we’re just waiting for the crash that inevitably comes when we’re on a mountain top.
We all know what it’s like to not be able to stop feeling a certain way. Whether it’s sad, or depressed, or unmotivated, or not being able to keep ourselves from crashing from the high point of happiness when an emotional storm blows through. Life can sometimes feel like this constant roller coster that we have no ability to control the ups and downs, and all we want is stability. Not even stability of emotion but stability of heart. We, or at least I, just want to be able to feel like I can control my response to emotional shifts so that when the storms do hit, I’m not both overwhelmed and caught off guard at the same time. I don’t want to simply react.
Reaction implies a degree of not having control. Reaction is an answer of the flesh that happens as a result of something else that has already happened; it’s an involuntary action that resonates in the flesh because of some external cause. I recently had a table saw accident and nearly cut my thumb completely off. I somehow managed to cut through the bone but miraculously missed the tendon which, with the scrap of skin on my top knuckle, was the only thing holding my thumb onto my hand; and I can tell you, I ripped my thumb out of that saw, what seemed like an eternity but was really about 4 seconds, before my brain felt the pain and registered that I had just turned my thumb into hamburger meat.
That is a reaction. We react before our brains have time to realize what has happened and reacting is how we end up simply holding on for dear life while our emotions do their thing. When our hearts aren’t stable, we react to our circumstances because we have no choice, it’s a survival instinct. The problem with a survival instinct is that is doesn’t always think about the next move, it’s just worried about that moment. So when we react, we stay alive for that moment but it doesn’t always set us up for success in what’s to follow.
But when our hearts are whole and stable we can stay level headed and calculate an appropriate response to a circumstance regardless of our emotions. When our hearts are whole, we don’t get caught off guard because we’re aware of our surroundings and we don’t stick our thumb in the table saw in the first place which requires us to react in order to keep an appendage (that was a metaphor, in case you were wondering. The condition of my heart had nothing to do with me cutting my thumb off. That was pure stupidity). A whole heart prevents us from getting into positions where our only option is to react and it puts us into positions to calculate and respond accordingly. I want to respond from the heart, not just react.
It’s like playing chess. A good chess player knows every possible move his opponent can make and what his best options are in response to those moves. The chess player is rarely caught off guard by what his opponent does because he’s already made himself aware of every possible scenario. He can hope for certain opportunities that his opponent could give him but he has a calculated response for all moves. That way, he’s not caught in a position where he doesn’t know how to handle himself.
In the past, I have considered myself somebody who was a pretty emotionally level person. I didn’t get really excited about much, and I didn’t let the hard stuff affect me either. That verse in Matthew 6, I thought I was pretty awesome at not worrying about anything. Or in Phillipians 4:6-7 where it says, “Do not be anxious about anything … And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts…” I didn’t get overly excited or anxious about anything and I persuaded myself that my emotional dullness was the “Peace of God”. What was really going on was that I was so emotionally walled off from everything around me because of damage that had been done to my heart that I didn’t let myself feel. That was what I called peace and I convinced myself that it was because of my “whole heart”. I disguised my brokenness as peace and I was fine with deceiving myself that way.
I’m sure a lot of you reading can raise your hand and say, “I know all about that, Sam…”
It took me a long time of fighting my emotions and the back and forth before I realized that my inheritance as a child of God is to have a whole heart. Whole, healthy, thriving, even valuable, are all conditions of the heart that Jesus died to make possible for us to feel.
So often as Christians, we ignore the heart and just address actions. Why? Because the actions are what the world sees, so if we can just fake it and go for this behavior modification so that we look like followers of Christ, then we can still lead people to Him and not have to fix ourselves. Right? Because fixing ourselves is hard, it hurts, it’s a struggle, it requires vulnerability; and knowing all of these things creates the delusion that it might not be worth it to get rid of our brokenness for all the effort that it takes to reach the other side. But when we put it in the perspective that receiving healing makes the difference between stepping into the calling that God has for us and changing the world or not, then it’s easy to see that it is worth it. Self-pity will rob us of our inheritance if we don’t do something about it, I see it happen everyday.
For myself, being a full time missionary, I can tell you this: I wasn’t called into ministry to shepherd actions, I was called here to shepherd hearts. I’m not interested in changing the way somebody behaves. I’m concerned with touching their heart. Because if the heart gets touched the actions will follow. Wholeness of heart brings changed behavior. I don’t want to tell somebody how to act, I want to teach them how to navigate their heart. If their actions don’t change, then I’m concerned because I’ve failed to help bring them to a place where they can receive healing for the brokenness that exists in their heart and is causing sin. Because most sin is just the manifestation in the physical realm of some kind of brokenness that exists in our hearts.
I’m not trying to say we’re not responsible for our sin; because if sin is a result of brokenness then we still have a responsibility to seek healing from the Lord for that brokenness. So we’re either responsible for the sin or responsible for the healing of brokenness that’s causing the sin. So there’s no difference in accountability, there’s no excuse for sin. The difference is in how we approach the solution.
If we’re approaching sin on it’s own then the solution is to try to change behavior and we have all tried that enough to know that it doesn’t typically work. But if we’re approaching brokenness as the source of sin, then the solution is to get healing. And the only way to get healing is to be in the throne room of God, and an encounter with God is always effective, it always works. My hope in pointing out the source of sin as being brokenness is that we would stop trying to correct our sinful behavior and actually pursue an encounter with God that brings healing and let the healing and wholeness of heart eradicate our sin.
Like I said earlier, this realization has become a very personally convicting journey for me. Especially considering my position in ministry, because I know that I can only give away what I, myself, have experienced. I can only lead somebody so far as I have gone. I can’t just shepherd actions if I want to see real change for the Kingdom. If I’m trying to lead people to wholeness of heart then I need to seek healing and become whole myself because I can only give away what I’ve received. So if I’ve received brokenness that I haven’t dealt with then at some point I’m going to give away brokenness in my ministry. If I’ve received hurt that I haven’t dealt with then at some point I’m going to deal out hurt in my ministry.
So this has lead me to deal with my own heart in ways that I didn’t even know needed dealing with. It’s brought me to some realizations that I want to share. This will be a preview but there’s a lot more to come so make sure to read part II when I publish it in a few days.
On this journey, I’ve noticed that the condition of my heart determines the condition of my life. What springs forth in my life, first exists in my heart (Proverbs 4:23). Which is a little bit disconcerting at first because so many of us, as stated earlier, feel like our hearts are such volatile things. But there’s comfort to be found in scripture regarding this, Isaiah 61:1 (ESV) says this:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
Jesus, quotes this scripture in Luke 4:18-19 (ESV) and claims it as his mission as well. So Jesus’ job on earth was to bind the brokenhearted. This is significant because it shows us that the primary ministry of Jesus was not to deal with sin, it’s to bind the brokenness in our hearts and declare freedom over areas of captivity in our lives, and by doing so, sin is eradicated because sin is the captivity in our lives.
This gives me hope because if my heart determines the condition of my life but I don’t feel like I have control over how I respond to emotional circumstances then how can I ever live in stability? How can I ever feel whole when my emotions are always so messed up? Well, because Jesus came and died so that He, not I, can bind the brokenness in my heart; that’s what the scripture says. And when the brokenness gets taken care of I can respond rather than react.
The problem is not sin, sin is simply a reaction to brokenness it’s a symptom to the disease of a broken heart. And you don’t cure a disease by treating it’s symptoms, you have to attack the disease to get rid of the symptoms. Otherwise you’re just going for this “behavior modification” and addressing the symptoms while leaving the underlying cause, the disease, run rampant. It’s like sucking on a cough drop, it doesn’t make the virus that’s causing the sore throat go away, it just makes us feel better for a minute because it numbs the throat.
We don’t want to just numb ourselves to our brokenness. We want to heal our brokenness. This is our inheritance, this is the first step of walking in our callings.
I’m going to end it there for this post because this is already a relatively long post. But I have so much amazing personal revelation and material to share, so keep an eye out on social media or just check back over the next week to see when Part II is published. Drop a comment below if you enjoyed the aspect of personal journey that I included. I definitely enjoy the feedback and it helps me to write and create relevant content that readers enjoy and get something out of. And as always, like, share, comment, subscribe, etc. It really does help me out a ton and if nothing else it is super encouraging. Thanks guys, much love!