Major Clarence Bradbury
I’m an ocean person. I love to watch waves break. You can tell when a big one is coming.
The preliminary swell looms larger than others. Surfers rush to catch the promising ride. White caps atop the ridge are carried forward by the breeze. At its crest the wave is magnificent, awesome. Its furious crash propels it to shore, slamming everything in its path. Breakers are nature’s tool for shaping shorelines. Bays and beaches, coves and sand bars owe their contours to the relentless pounding.
Breakers are also God’s instrument for shaping leaders. The psalmist was all too familiar with the shaping process. He acknowledged in one of his prayers, Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me (psalm 42:7). The stream that nourished his soul in verse one seems now to become a virtual tsunami of devastation and forsakenness, not unlike the deep and dark experience of Jesus when He uttered His cry from the cross. It’s a painful process that we approach with reluctance and resistance. We want the product that is the fruit of brokenness but not the process. When I left home to become an officer, I longed to be respected like the most-loved leaders I knew – but not if I had to pay a price. I guess North American society has inured us that way. The pursuit of pleasure, the right to be happy, the culture of entitlement, the value we place on independence and advancement; all these precondition us to resist pain. We have learned well how to buck brokenness. In a results-oriented world, we strive to increase our outputs.
Suggested reading on brokenness:
Embracing Brokenness, How God Refines us Through Life’s Disappointments, by Alan E. Nelson, Navpress, 2002.
Brokenness: How God Redeems Pain and Suffering, by Lon Solomon, Red Door Press, 2005.
Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness, by Jean Vanier and Stanley Hauerwas, Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.
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