I always break the cracker myself.
The deacons silently handed out the plate of crackers or bread or wafers or whatever they used for communion that day.
No matter how small it already was, when the pastor read the verse, “This is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me…” I folded that tiny white sliver in half and then slipped it into my mouth with my eyes squeezed tight.
The King James says this, “Broken for you….”
My Bible now reads “Given for you….”
Scripture translation doesn’t impact how personal this is, how personally I should take it sitting there in my comfortably cushioned chair in a carpeted sanctuary.
Because Jesus’ brokenness wasn’t just for someone, for all of us, for mankind, for her, for him, for them, for those in the past…..
That’s why I smash that wafer into two with my own fingers and cradle the pieces in my own palm before we eat the bread together: because this was Christ’s sacrifice for me and it was because of me, because of my own sin in a world of sinners.
It’s too easy to feel rising self-righteousness, thinking that my redeemed self isn’t so bad, my sin not so ugly, my life not so messy.
And then that creeping lie of merit demolishes the truth of grace. Even when I sing the words, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me,” I’m not meaning it. Not truly. I’m singing about other wretches maybe, but surely not me, surely not my own good-girl self.
Holding two slivers of a broken symbol of Christ’s sacrificial body, though, reminds me that He chose the brokenness.
Because I was hopelessly broken.
It’s not a romanticized brokenness, this need of mine for a Savior. It’s not that I’m just slightly messy or flaky or flighty, scatter-brained, forgetful, overwhelmed, rushed, busy, or humorously real in a world that tends to pretend perfection.
Sure, we’re all human. We don’t always keep our houses clean. Sometimes we lose our temper with our kids. There are bad days and mistakes.
But I’m not talking the kind of brokenness we laugh about in blog posts, where we confess not so much sin as just life in all its crazy reality.
I’m talking about the kind of brokenness where we drop to our knees in repentance, true repentance, where we face the fact that we’re sinners and that there is ugliness in us.
And we don’t just accept that with apathetic shrugs of our shoulders.
That’s just how I am. That’s how everyone is. That’s what is realistic. That’s how God made me. That’s just how people will have to accept me. Nobody’s perfect.
Sometimes that’s what we say. We commiserate with lost tempers and jealousy in small group conversations and we act as if it doesn’t matter.
But just because that’s normal, doesn’t mean it’s right. Doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to God or holy or pure or righteous.
I never really choose brokenness myself. It’s not something I seek out or glorify or want. Yet, God reveals the broken places not so I can connect with others with a funny story, but so I don’t forget that:
He is perfect; I am not.
He deserves glory; I don’t.
He paid the price for my salvation; I didn’t earn it.
He doesn’t use me because of my skills, abilities, training; He can use me in my weakness so that others see His strength.
The humbling makes us usable, makes us dependent on Him, makes us desire His work in us, the kind that doesn’t leave us broken and sin-invaded forever, but inspires us to intimacy with Him that brings life-revolutionary change.
And while I don’t usually choose this brokenness—more like I run away from it, hide from it, try to escape it and pretend it doesn’t exist–it’s beautiful the way He uses it, beautiful the way it’s transformed in His hands.
Beautiful the way I remember that while I avoid brokenness, Jesus chose it for me.
Here the King James version falls short. Yes, his body was “broken for you”–but not because others were more powerful or Satan overcame Him or He wasn’t able to save Himself. This wasn’t passive.
Instead, I read today in my Bible:
And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me (Luke 22:19 HCSB).
Jesus gave His body over to us.
This I remember. This I bow my head and give humble thanks for. This is why I break the bread with my own hands, because He chose the brokenness and He chose it for me.
Heather King is a busy-but-blessed wife and mom, a Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King