In an animal sanctuary somewhere on the East Coast of Scotland lives a horse. His name is Boris. Boris is in the sanctuary because his previous owner was finding it difficult to provide for him. This same owner had been a good, caring owner. In fact, Boris’ time with that owner was perhaps the best period of his life. Prior to that, he had been subjected to a miserable existence of abuse and ill treatment which had left him scarred.
Another horse who is living in retirement has the name Frankel. If you follow racing or sport generally, you will probably have heard of Frankel. Frankel is probably the greatest race horse ever, or a least one of the greatest ever. He never lost a race. And even in retirement he is valued at about one hundred million pounds.
Apart from the fact that they are both horses, Boris and Frankel have one other thing in common: they are both broken. One broken by life, the other, broken in and trained in such a way that his incredible strength and power has brought victory and success to his owners. Two kinds of brokenness, two very different outcomes
The Bible talks about two kinds of brokenness.
Psalm 51.17 says: “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
Isaiah explains that this is the kind of attitude God is after:
‘These are the ones I look on with favour: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.’ (Isaiah 66.2)
Yet we find that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted (Luke 4.18 KJV).
How come? Two kinds of brokenness. The brokenness that is the result of sin is a brokenness that God wants to heal. But there is a humility of heart a brokenness that comes about as a result of our pursuit of Jesus, a brokenness that is the outcome of our surrender to Him, that God loves. In fact without it, you will never enjoy a close relationship with God and you will never produce the kind of fruit that God has planned for you to produce.
How can you have a broken heart – in the positive sense? It’s simple, but not necessarily easy. When a horse is broken in, one of the main objectives of the trainer is to bring the horse to the place where it follows and respects a human being. Being humble and broken before God simply means that we have learnt or are learning to follow and respect what He wants.
Unbroken horses aren’t safe for human beings, but when broken in, their strength and power has the ability to plough fields, win races, and bring great pleasure to their owners. Unbroken disciples are equally dangerous! But when they submit to the word and will of Jesus they have the potential to change the world.