Max Lucado: God Uses Our Brokenness
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Max’s team did a survey to try and understand how people saw themselves spiritually. Of 9,877 respondents…
• 50% feel as though they’ve stumbled one too many times for God to use them
• 45% feel closer to breakdown than breakthrough
• 92% feel as though they’re part of the “Tilted Halo Society,” as opposed to the “Super Saint Association” (titles used in Max’s book)
• 48% believe this statement: God helps those who help themselves
In considering who to focus on from the Bible for a sermon series, from which all his trade books stem, it was easy to see that Jacob surely felt like so many Christians do today – defeated and disqualified. Jacob is known as the one who tricked his brother out of his birthright with a bowl of stew, wrestled with an angel until he blessed him, and was later tricked by his own wily father-in-law, Laban. As Max puts it, “If you are looking for a star in a Hallmark movie, Jacob is not your guy. If, on the other hand, you want to see God’s steadfast devotion. . . If you are wondering if God’s plan has a place for botchers, bunglers, schemers, and last-chancers . . . If you could benefit from a tale of God’s unending, unbending, unswerving faithfulness . . . If you wonder if God could use a person whose halo has slipped. . . Then the story of Jacob is what you need.”
“When God wanted to identify himself to his people,” Max says, “He declared, ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Not just of Abraham and Isaac. He’s also the God of Jacob. God used Jacob in spite of Jacob. Period. The word for such devotion? Grace. Grace came after Jacob. Grace found him in the desert. Grace protected him when he lived in exile. Grace wrestled him to the ground in Jabbok and blessed him. Grace led him home to Canaan.”
Max says Jacob’s story also reveals much about God’s character. He calls it, “A testimony to divine, unexpected, unrequested, undeserved kindness. God’s grace isn’t only as good as you are. God’s grace is as good as He is. God’s grace isn’t a lucky charm crucifix on a necklace. God’s grace is a tiger in your heart. His grace never quits. That’s the kind of God He is—He’s the “God of Jacob.” Our God is the God of those who struggle and scrape, sometimes barely making it, hanging on for dear life.
FLAWS, FAILURES, AND JACOB’S RESPONSE
It’s clear in reading Genesis that Jacob’s family was as dysfunctional as they come. Max says that reality should encourage us, as we realize that God used the family for tremendous good, as He can with ours. A person might read about Jacob’s clan and ask, “Where are the heroes? Who am I supposed to be emulating? Who is the redeeming character in this polygamous mess?” The answer: God! Where you and I see a family that spends more time at each other’s throats than in each other’s arms, God sees an opportunity to display His strength — “Watch what I can do.”
God used, and uses, flawed people. He made a promise to Abraham: his children would be like dust on the earth and stars in the galaxies. The greatest person who ever lived would spring from his loins. The story of heaven would be told and distributed through these odd and curious people. God had made them a promise. He never breaks His promises. Case in point: the family of Jacob. Dysfunctional families can be used, even fixed. Function can happen. Good intentions to love can become real. God can flick everything into healing mode. No family is beyond the possibility of a miracle.
When the Lord did bless Jacob’s family with forgiveness, ample provision, and answered prayer, Jacob responded by trying to haggle. “He spoke to God the way he would speak to a camel trader. He suggested a contract. A transaction. An agreement. A working term for this might be transactional theology. A. W. Tozer wrote, ‘Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms. We want to get Him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need Him. We want a God we can in some measure control.’ Anytime we suggest that we control spiritual dividends from God, that God is a genie who awaits our rub on the lamp, that God is an ATM who dispenses goodness if we enter the correct PIN, that God is a sky fairy who is under obligation to do what we want because we have thrashed out a deal with Him, we border on heresy. We’ve exchanged a transcendent God to whom we’re accountable for a dependent God who’s accountable to us.”
GOD’S BLESSINGS, OUR BROKENNESS
“Each day seems to bring a new way for us to wander off course. Anyone who tells you they haven’t needs to read a book on honesty. The Christian life is not difficult; it is impossible. Who has a chance? What hope do we have? The same hope that Jacob did. Grace. No more self-incrimination. No more self-accusation. No more self-condemnation. Make grace your permanent address. God has joined himself to you. You are “complete” (Col. 2:10). You are “made right with God” (2 Cor. 5:21 NLT). You are “holy, and blameless, and above reproach” (Col. 1:22). “He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:14 ESV). God has made a covenant to love you with an everlasting love, and He will keep it. He did so with Jacob. Like Jacob, you struggle. Yet like Jacob, you are never disqualified by your struggles. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7). Your treasure? A birthright. A spiritual heritage and destiny. Yet these earthen vessels don’t match our treasure.
Can these broken vessels still be used for good, one might wonder? Max reassures us that we can. “Absolutely. We have minds that wander. Bodies that age. Hearts that doubt. Eyes that lust. Convictions that crumble. We crack under pressure. Who wants to use a broken vessel? God does. God does great things through brokenness. Broken soil gives crops. Broken eggs give life. Broken skies give rain. Broken crayons still color.
The broken bread of the Eucharist gives hope. The broken body of Christ on the cross is the light of the world. Which is precisely the point. God does great things through the greatly broken. It’s not the strength of the vessel that matters; it’s the strength of the One who can use it. We don’t have to be strong to be saved. We don’t have to be perfect to be redeemed. We don’t have to score straight A’s. We simply need to trust the God of Jacob, believe in a God who sticks with the unworthy and underachievers until we are safely home. He is the God of second chances and new beginnings. The God of grace. His grace never quits.
Get your copy of Max Lucado's latest book, God Never Gives Up on You, at maxlucado.com.
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