Broken Pieces of Pottery

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

In 1952, my mom, older sister and I boarded a military transport ship and 11 days later we arrived in Japan to join my father and live there for three years. We settled in a large city called Nagoya and that became home for our time there. Even though I was only five years old when we arrived, my three years there is still with me. The people, the culture, the scenery all left an impression on my life. One of the things that I remember is broken pottery. We lived in a walled in housing area for military745-pottery-repairs-1 personnel and our house was the first house inside one of the gates. On the inside of the wall there were trees planted all the way around the wall for about 20 feet or so wide. I would go there and play and dig holes. I guess that’s what young kids did in my day—dig holes. Anyway, when I would dig down a foot or so, I would start finding broken pieces of statues, and other pottery. I remembered about that for many years and always wondered how they came to be buried there.

Many years later, when I was around 22, I got into reading history books and was reading a book about the Pacific theater of the war with Japan in World War II. I was nearly finished with the book and it was talking about trying to defeat Japan after Germany had surrendered. It seems that one of the Generals had the idea to start a saturation bombing campaign in several large cities. It didn’t matter where the bombs fell and the attacks were not limited to military targets. This was total war and the idea was to break the will and back of Japan. The bombs fell on houses, schools and shopping areas. The firestorms would burn for days.

As I read the book, I learned that Nagoya was one of the cities in the bombing campaigns. Then it struck me. The broken pieces of pottery I discovered as a kid could have been the result of these bombings. I could imagine small shops being fire bombed and destroyed and many people killed. Then the area could have been just plowed under and our housing area could have been built over it all. I don’t know if that’s what really happened, but it’s a good possibility. I still think about it even today. As bad as the bombings were, the general’s plan was a failure. The bombings did not break the hearts or the spirits of the Japanese people. So, on August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb in history. Soon, the will of the government was finally broken and Japan was forced to surrender. The will and back of the country was finally broken.

So, there’s your history class for the week. But I do have a reason for telling you all of this. The reason I have been thinking of this story lately is because I have been struggling with brokenness or being broken. In re:generation, we talk a lot about our lives being broken. There are many reasons we can be broken and most of it is pretty much because we live in a sin-filled world. Sometimes our lives are broken because of wrong decisions we have made and sinful things we have done. The result is often a life-time of guilt. Other times bad things are done to us and just leave scars that we must deal with all our lives. Other times bad things are done to us or against us without our consent. These happen just because we live in a fallen world.

While all that is real kind of brokenness, that is not what I’m not talking about here. There is another type of brokenness that is a necessity to our walk with Jesus. That brokenness is a conscious choice we make to allow God to break our stubborn hearts to His will. We cannot fully follow God unless we allow Him to break our wills. Why is this so important? Because God hates pride!! That may sound a bit strong but it is scriptural. Most of the problems in the world today, and in our own lives, are there because of pride.

Just what does it mean to be broken in our daily experience. Roy Hession wrote a classic book some time ago called The Calvary Road. In it he gives a good definition of brokenness. He says, “Brokenness in daily experience is simply the response of humility to the conviction of God.” I’ve mentioned before in some of my blogs that God is always for the humble and meek. I’m not talking about weakness. True humility and meekness are just the opposite of that. But that begs the question: if brokenness is all that important, how do we attain it?

I’m no expert on being broken but I do have a few thoughts. First, I think that we need to have a teachable heart. God, through the Word, will convict us of areas in our lives that need to be given to Him. Let’s get real. What about our thought lives? I would be totally humiliated to tell you the thoughts that have been coming to my mind lately. God tells us to “put to death” things like sexual immorality, impurity passion, evil desires and covetousness. He adds to that list things like anger, wrath, malice wrath and filthy talk. He also says to “put on” things like compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience and forgiveness. How in this world can we put these characteristics into our lives!!  I’d like to close with a few thoughts:

  1. First, realize that we have died to self on the cross with Christ. That may be hard to grasp but Colossians 3:3 says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” When Christ died on the cross, we died with Him. Believe it or not, He has taken care of his part and that victory cannot be lost.
  1. Second, “put off.” There are two sides of this brokenness. Jesus has his part, and we have ours. When God brings conviction in our lives, we need to put off whatever it is that we are convicted of. In other words, we need to make a choice. If we are open to His conviction, we can count on Him to show us areas of our lives that need to be given to Him. Then we make the choice. We can either go our way or choose to go His.
  1. Third, “put on.” I kind of already covered this above. We then need to put on the right characteristic. This happens when we choose to go Jesus’ way rather than ours. We “put on” when we choose to obey the Word and do things that please Jesus. About the best thing I can think of in this is to guard your heart. I believe that each time we respond to something in the right way that God uses that in our life to change our character. Any positive change in our lives will come from within us, within our heart. Outside stimulus or pressure to change may last for a little while, but it will never last. Changing our behavior without a change of heart will fail every time. The Christian life is very practical and God loves us enough to stop us in our tracks when we are seeking to walk righteously with Him in our hearts.

Every day we find ourselves in situations where we need to make a choice. Will we yield to God or will we follow our own desires? Everything God brings into our lives, whether good or bad, is an opportunity for us to grow in Him. I pray we make the best of these by making the right choices. Jesus’ death on the cross opened the door that allows us to make the right choices where before we were slaves to our flesh and sin. We now have His spirit within us to empower us. I pray that we will make choices that will change our stubborn hearts to be humble before Him. God bless you all!!

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