You don’t own it. Any of it.
The material possessions? Not yours. Talents and gifts? Not yours. Dreams and hopes? Not yours. Ideas and plans? Not yours. You own none of it. Not one iota of any of it belongs to you.
If you’re a believer, it all – all – belongs to God.
And we say we know that. We do. I do. You do. Maybe, like me, you sat in the circle during praise and worship time and sang the song without knowing what it really meant:
Brokenness, brokenness is what I long for… Brokenness is what I need… (It’s what I need now, Lord).
Maybe your singing was accompanied by the soulful twang of an acoustic guitar, like mine was. Maybe you thought of the old Christian joke that always comes up during any song about brokenness: “Better be careful what you pray for!” And maybe you thought that you were ready to be broken even when you weren’t, because to you broken meant “enduring a bad thing” or “being very sad, but knowing it is for the best” or “having God remind you are dust.”
I guess brokenness can be those things. But for me, brokenness was realizing recently that it isn’t mine. None of my stuff is mine. Even the stuff that God gave me, even the gifts and blessings and talents that I made distinct plans for, isn’t mine. Brokenness is realizing that I keep putting words in God’s mouth, planning my life around those words, then getting mad at Him because He isn’t following through on something He never even said.
I’ll tell you what. I’ve had a ministry dream since I was very small, a dream I believed and still believe was given to me by God. I believe there is something very particular that God wants me to do. Throughout my life, I have taken steps toward making that dream a reality – steps that, without God’s direct intervention, could never have occurred otherwise. Doing so reaffirmed my conviction that I was following a path God wanted me to take. And once I took those steps, I waited for God to deliver the dream – without realizing I was waiting for Him to deliver that dream on my terms, in my timeline, and in the way I expected. And maybe my thought process will be familiar to you:
Okay, God. I did x, now it’s your turn to do y.
I did everything you asked. So where are you at?
Did you lie to me before? Did I misinterpret what you wanted me to do?
Have I failed somehow? Is that why things aren’t working out like they should?
I interpreted what I perceived to be God’s silence as a negative answer. I grew resentful and then worried. I tried to let it go. I couldn’t. And then, recently, while working on a study (Priscilla Shirer’s Gideon, which I am certain God led me to for precisely this moment), I received a slew of sudden answers that felt, to me, like the way God once answered Job:
Are you implying that I am not going to do the things that I promised through my Word I would do?
I am right here, and I have been here, and I’m not silent so much as you decided you didn’t want to hear anything but the answer you decided would be acceptable.
I am Truth. You are the one who decided what My timeline should look like, when My plans for you should appear, and in what order they should be. You’re not disappointed in My plans for you. You’re disappointed that My plans for you haven’t dovetailed with the plans you made for you.
Things aren’t working out like they “should” because your plan was never Mine. As far as I’m concerned, we’re right on track and right on time.
To me, brokenness doesn’t feel like sadness or disappointment or sorrow, although I’m sure it can feel like all of those things at different times. Brokenness to me feels like shock: the shock you receive when you look up when driving and realize you nearly missed a car in your blind spot. The shock you feel when you remember it’s someone’s birthday when it’s too late to send a card. The shock of remembering you left the garage door open when you’re already two hours out of town. The plain, befuddling bewilderment and guilt of realizing that you have missed something vital.
I’ve been a Christian for most of my life. I’ve grown spiritually to the point where I assume – wrongly – that I am consulting God about most things, and submitting to God in most things. In reality, probably 50% of the time I’m making assumptions about what God could and should do, based on what I want to happen and what I believe should happen. Based on what I believe I am owed by God. Based on what I believe God should do with the things that I erroneously assume are “mine.”
But they aren’t mine. And though I am certain I am still being led to this particular ministry dream (which is, I must remind myself, not mine) – more certain now than ever – I am less certain than ever of how I will arrive at it, what it will look like when I get there, and how God plans to get me from point A to point B. All I know is that my decisions about how it will happen are, and should be, out of my hands.
Because none of it is mine. Not one little thing. And forgetting that has been my blind spot. Maybe it’s yours, too.
It is all supposed to be an offering.