Breakthroughs often follow breakdowns. All of us love breakthroughs right? We love spiritual breakthroughs when God answers a prayer or some miracle happens. We love breakthroughs, but in my experience, those are typically preceded by breakdowns.
In the Old Testament, the Lord often didn’t deliver Israel until the people were broken down. What did they need to break down? In this case, some Baals and Ashtoreths that were idols in their lives. I don’t doubt that many of them thought that they were serving the Lord and worshiping the Lord, but they had their little Baals on the side.
I went to KFC this weekend and they’ve got the option of two or three sides, biscuits and cole slaw and I like sides, and I think spiritually many of us like two or three things on the side. What we want is to follow Christ but we have this little Baal over here and Ashtoreth over there. I just don’t know if I can give those things up. I love the Lord but the Lord only? To put everything in? Yes!
Listen, I think what we need to understand is that we have a loving God who is a jealous God. He is a jealous God for all of us. He doesn’t want part of us, He wants all of us. That means that sometimes we have to go through the process of God breaking us down.
When I look back at the setbacks in my life, I think part of what God was doing was breaking me down emotionally, spiritually, and motivationally. The Lord sometimes reveals your true motivations and not all of them are right? That hurts, but here’s what I’ve learned. I’ve learned not just to endure but to embrace some of the breaking down that God does in my life. Because when God breaks me down emotionally, here is what I believe He is doing, He is expanding my emotional capacity to handle more stress!
Awesome! How exciting! You want to be used by the Lord? You want Him to expand your influence? We all want the promotion and the paycheck that comes with it, but you know what else comes with that? More stress! So we are not seeking the stress, per say, that tends to be the thing that we put up with for everything else that comes with it, but what I’m suggesting is that there are situations where God expands our emotional capacity.
Motivationally, He breaks us down and purifies our motives to make sure that what we are doing, we are doing for the glory of God. Spiritually, when I’ve faced ministry setbacks, just gut-wrenching disappointment that came with it, I’ll tell you what happened. It broke down my faith. Have you ever been there? Those moments where you think God is leading and you are sure this was it, then what?
The Lord was breaking down that faith. Why would the Lord do that? There are a lot of parallels between the physical realm and the spiritual realm. Hopefully some of you know this, when you go to the gym, in essence, you are trying to build yourself up, but how do you do it? You do it be breaking down your muscles. That’s the only way you can grow stronger. You’ve got to break them down.
By the way, it’s that last weight-lifting repetition where all the value, when it’s most painful, when you feel that breaking down, what happens is your body builds itself back up stronger. You know this. Spiritually, isn’t that true? God often has to break us down. Here’s why I say that, because I have a hunch that some of you are in that building up stage and you are loving God and you are loving life and everything seems to be good, but there are a lot of you reading this who are in the breaking down stage and it hurts. You may feel just like the Israelites who felt abandoned by God when He disciplined them to increase their faith.
Why is God so busy answering everybody else’s prayer but mine? Perhaps it is a season where your heart has become a little hardened. Maybe there is some sin that has been calcified in your life and maybe, just maybe there is some pride or some bitterness or some anger or some lust that God needs to begin to break down. And He begins to break those things down so that then He can build us back up.
I think that’s what you see here. I guess the question I want to ask you is: Are you serving the Lord only or is there something else? If there is something else, that needs to be broken down in our lives so that God can build us back up.
Taken from the Sermon “Samuel” from the series “Legends” at National Community Church, Washington, D.C. July 4, 2010.