Jesus In the Breaking Point

I've done a bit of traveling lately. That might seem strange since I now have a newborn and two toddlers, but it’s true. Some of you might live in the place I've been checking out, but probably nearly all of you have visited. It goes by several names: The End of Your Rope; The Breaking Point; The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back; Rock Bottom. Yes, I've been spending some time discovering the borders of my own sanity.

At the moment, I cannot recall the terrain I scaled to get to that little village called The Breaking Point, I just remember that after a half hour failing to soothe my infant son and hearing my other two screaming at each other, I told my wife that I wanted to walk out the back door, hop the fence, and get lost in the woods. Instead, I handed off the infant to go change my other son’s doozy of a diaper. It was one of those volcanic eruptions that is a bit like trying to get wet paint off of the sidewalk – try as you might, you never quite get the “paint” off, even though you get it on you.

Then I lost it. Right there in the middle of the diaper change, the bottom dropped out. I couldn't take another step. It was just too much. I couldn't will myself to do one more thing, not even button up a diaper. That was it. I'd reached my limit. If Griffin had started peeing in my eye, I probably would have just taken it. I crumpled up on the floor crying like a baby.

As my 20-month-old son tried to comfort me (which was its own blessing, by the way), I thought of a series of stories I'd heard of various moms who'd hit the wall and gone berserk. One drove her car into the river with the kids buckled in their car seats. The other strangled her kids before throwing herself out of the fifth-story window or something like that. (You probably weren't expecting this to get so dark. Sorry, but we need a good dose of reality from time to time.) The thought suddenly occurred to me that these people were not crazy, they just had a permanent residence at The Breaking Point, and did not have Jesus. Suddenly I was filled with compassion for everyone who’s gone postal. Because without Jesus, we are not equipped to handle The Breaking Point; why wouldn’t diabolical responses arise? I’m not some paragon of virtue for hitting the floor in the fetal position crying, “I’m sorry, Lord, I just can’t do it; I’m too weak.” The Lord is the one who rescues. It is sheer grace that I wasn’t wandering through the woods or headed to the bottle shop or getting the key for my ammunition box.

Here’s the point: the only thing that separates my Breaking Point (and yours) from those on the national news is Jesus. Period.

When we rest in him, working from his strength, we often stay clear of the Breaking Point altogether. But not always. He can also lead us into it so that when we crack like a clay pot, his glory can shine out of us. (see 2 Cor. 4:7-12) The Lord knew where my Breaking Point was and he knew I would get there that day. He knew everything that built to that moment (and everything that will build to the next one). The Lord sees me and knows me; everything that I will think, say, or do before any of that happens, before the creation of the world, in fact. He isn't surprised by it or put off by it. Whatever is too icky or weak or foolish does not stop him.

It is precisely this that keeps me coming back to him and moves my heart to take that one step I couldn’t just a moment earlier. Here I am crumpled on the floor and what does he do with my weakness? Does he cross his arms and say, “Get up! You can do better”? Scripture answers, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin…For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb. 4:15; 2:18) How wonderful that he is present to us – meaning gracious to us – even in the deepest valleys where we are tempted to throw in the towel!

So you don’t have to avoid those valleys. Sometimes they are exactly where he is leading us to show both the world and us the depths of his love and the greatness of his power toward us who believe. You don’t have to be tough as nails. He isn’t interested in your strength. You don’t have to pretend to be stronger, or better, or holier than you are. Your hypocrisy isn’t exactly appealing. You are free to enter the valley before your fear and anxiety have died down and you feel good and strong. Your very weakness he wants to strengthen, your hollowness he wants to fill, your brokenness he wants to fix, your sin he wants to forgive. Your desperation draws his compassion. Run to him, and let him embrace you not only at the Breaking Point, but at every other point as well."