The Glory of Brokenness
If your life were a sky, what would it look like? Broken, covered, or clear?
I went on a walk around my neighborhood a few days ago. It was a few hours before sunset, and the temperatures were already beginning to drop. A breeze kicked up with just enough force to make my old denim shirt billow and my hair dance into a tangle behind me.
It'd been a long day. I was soul-tired.
So I took my dog on a walk. I played worship music as Meg bounded through fields of alfalfa ahead of me. As I walked with Jesus, imagining Him beside me, I began to worship. Loudly. And probably off key, but I had my headphones in and didn't really care who heard.
There's a big difference between worship and Christian music. A lot of Christian music asks things of God. Help me. Lead me. Guide me. Show me. Teach me. These aren't bad things, but there's a time for them. There's also a time to just set aside ME, and worship HIM.
YOU are glorious. YOU are righteous. YOU are good. YOU are my beloved!
He drew my attention to the sky. The sun partially hidden behind clouds. It was still bright enough to wear sunglasses, but the way the sun radiated through the breaking of the clouds was breathtaking. Light leaped to the ground like streamers. Then the Lord revealed something to me the way only the Lord can.
The beauty of the sun is seen through the clouds. If we are the clouds, we need to allow a breaking to happen in us in order to allow the light to shine through us.
When a storm crowds in, the clouds refusing to break as they shroud the sun, any light that breaks through the clouds happens aggressively. Lightning rolls within creating turmoil. When the clouds refuse to open for the sun, a conductor on the ground can draw the turmoil of electricity out of the air to relieve the pressure. What that light strikes, it's end is always violent and often deadly.
When the clouds come, it gets colder and darker. We rejoice when, after a time of waiting, the sun finds a way to break through the clouds and shine in spite of them. Our attention is captured.
This is especially true right before the night. Every sunset is different.
A sunset in Seattle looks very different than a sunset on the rolling hills of Napa valley. Not only because of your surroundings, but because of what’s in the air.
If your life were a sky, how would it look? Are you in the midst of a storm with nothing but lightning churning inside, the sun completely blotted out? Maybe you've got a pretty clear sky and your life lacks any trials of real significance. Showing the light of God is, at this time, not particularly difficult for you. Or maybe you're somewhere in between.
Maybe you're just entering a season of darkness, or just emerging from one. Perhaps you're in the daylight seeing the storm that’s coming. There are real trials, threatening clouds on the horizon.
We know clouds can help make a good sunset but we always wonder: when it comes, will it be a really good one? Will the light be magnificent and full of color? Or will it be flat and anticlimactic? What determines the difference?
When it comes to the sky, National Geographic did an article on sunsets. They interviewed Stephen Corfidi, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) meteorologist who's written about the science of colorful sunsets. When asked what makes a sunset "good" he responded:
"I guess it depends on how you define 'good,' but I'm going to assume you mean a strikingly colorful one, where the colors are spectrally pure - say, vivid orange or red - as opposed to a more muted palette. Keep in mind that what we see with our human eyes is just a tiny part of the electromagnetic radiation that's given off by the sun."
God is doing far more than we can see with our naked eyes. Not only when it comes to the sky, but when it comes to the work He’s doing in our hearts. What we see is not the whole picture, nor is it the whole truth, but a ‘good’ sunset is first and foremost - pure.
"That radiation contains a wide spectrum of wavelengths, but your eyes are only sensitive to certain parts of it: the so-called visible wavelengths…
“So really, there's a good sunset every night; we just can't always see it from the ground. You may have noticed this if you've ever taken off in an airplane at sunset... As the plane gets above the boundary layer, into cleaner air, suddenly the sunset looks very vivid. It's all a matter of perspective."
What’s interesting is that this scientist also confirmed that sunsets in the Spring and Fall seasons tend to be more striking. Seasons of change. Of birth, and death. It’s also true that sunsets after a storm tend to be more dramatic.
How true is this of our lives? The glory of God is seen so much more vibrantly in seasons of birth, and death, and in the aftermath of our most violent storms.It’s only in the breaking, however, that the light can penetrate our atmosphere.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” - 2 Corinthians 4:6-10
Whatever you're going through in life, break and let the light shine. It’s the cracks in the jars of clay, the holes in the clouds, that lets the light escape. The brokenness of self that allows the wholeness and purity of Jesus in us to shine.
In your breaking, His light will radiate through you, pour out of you, and onto the world around you. Nothing can dim the radiant light of the sun. When clouds break,they simply reshape the light into something that causes people to stop and stare, to pay attention and give glory.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.