Speaking this morning with a good friend over a great cup of coffee, we talked about something that Chuck Swindoll said at the Catalyst Conference in 2009. If you don’t know who Chuck Swindoll is, then click his name and it will take you to his webpage. Chuck Swindoll is 79 years old and is my favorite communicator. He has been in full time ministry for more than 50 years. He is finishing strong and I’m inspired by this man’s character, wisdom and love for the Lord.
Something that Swindoll said at the 2009 Catalyst conference has haunted me ever since I heard it, and it resonates with me still. Swindoll talked about the Crushing. This is what he actually said.
“When God has an impossible task to accomplish, he finds an impossible person and crushes them. So leave room in your life for the crushing…
Leave room for the crushing.
In every great work of God, brokenness and failure are necessary.”
The Crushing? What does that mean? I’m not sure it is easy to explain. It can only be understood when it is actually happening. I think…if you do not know whether or not you have been through your crushing…then you have not. Let me be clear…The Crushing is unmistakable. Mine started on August 12th, 2011. I’m hoping that my crushing is just now ending nearly 2 and 1/2 years later. I am terrified that my crushing might not be over. It’s still too early in this new venture I’m calling ReturnHope International to know if God’s crushing of me has actually paused or stopped. Only time will tell.
Your crushing…if you go through one…will not be like mine. Each one is uniquely made by the hands of God. The Bible hero named Job went through a crushing. Noah had to have gone through a crushing. Jesus went through a crushing. Abraham, Peter, Samson. There are some common era people you have heard of that have gone through crushings…
Abraham Lincoln (failed 12 times in governmental pursuits until being elected the 16th President.) I don’t know if that was his crushing or not. He lost a child…maybe that was his crushing??
Bill gates was a Harvard Dropout.
Beethoven’s music teacher once said of him “as a composer, he is hopeless.”
Thomas Edison failed 9000 times in light experiments before he succeeded.
Michael Jordan was actually cut from his high school basketball team because of his “lack of skill.”
Winston Churchill failed the 6th grade.
Albert Einstein’s grades in school were so poor that a teacher asked him to quit, saying, “Einstein, you will never amount to anything!”
Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed.
You get the idea? The crushing isn’t just failure…but embarrassing/humiliating failure. The kind that people think you’ve lost your touch, credibility and insight. That is a crushing. The crushing causes deep humiliation and brokenness. The crushing takes the fight right out of you.
Back to Swindoll’s quote above. He asks if you are leaving room for your crushing? Maybe I should ask…what does leaving room for a crushing even look like? My guess is that the only way you can leave room for a crushing is to make sure you’re life isn’t so protected that you actually arrive at death’s door safely! I had a guy tell me one time that his pastor was a calculated risk taker. I think that is an oxymoron. What the heck is a calculated risk? I know what it’s not…it’s not leaving room for the crushing. Leaving room for the Crushing might start with God asking you to give some things away. I don’t mean tithing…if you are able to give even 50 or 60% of your salary to the Lord…that is not a crushing you are going through. If you serve in the nursery every Sunday…it might be close 🙂 …but it’s not your crushing. To give away something valuable just to be replaced with another valuable…is not a sacrifice and most definitely not a crushing.
The crushing is not fun. But it’s what makes diamonds, swords, purer gold and where wine begins! The crushing is deep sacrifice. It wounds, cuts, destroys and leaves you empty…but…
That emptiness is what God is looking for. That emptiness is the very vessel that He longs to fill. That emptiness now shouts to the Lord…”I am ready to be a servant to you only!”
If you haven’t been through a crushing…(you will know for sure if you have)…then my cold hearted guess as to why…is that you haven’t ventured into something that you cannot do yourself. You have lived in your own abilities. I’m not sure there is anything wrong with that. It is said that when people know their death is upon them, they have no regrets about what they have done…they regret what might have been.
I remember a guy standing in a circle of friends who was making fun of another Pastor that always cries when he speaks. I heard this guy making fun of this pastor and I couldn’t take it anymore and walked up to him and said, “The day you venture into something impossible and find success or the day you go through such a horrible crushing that it nearly ruins you…you will understand why that guy cries every time he shares “The Good News.”
The past 3 years of my life have been a crushing. There is no guarantee that life gets easier for any of us. Many people believe that if you obey God, then your life will turn out roses and cherries. What a lie! Ask the Apostles how obedience paid off for them on this side of life. Freakin click here and read Hebrews 11:35-40 and tell me that God kept obedient followers of God safe and sound.
I cant imagine what the last 3 years of my life would have been like without help of friends and family. I have literally been carried financially in that amount of time. By friends and family, I mean the Church. I believe that the hope of the world is in Jesus Christ and that He is best found in the body of God called the Church! The Crushing Sucks…but there are promises of something better for those who go through it…whether in this life or the next! I can’t imagine going through a crushing without the church.
Before the crushing…I would roll my eyes at the person who would say, ‘The only good in me, is Jesus Christ.” I used to call people who said that, “Churchy, or people who over are spiritualizing things.” If you can’t stand that phrase, then you have not been through a crushing. If you struggle giving the Holy Spirit all the credit in your life, for anything good, then you have not been through a crushing.
I can tell you, with total confidence, that anything good in me is Jesus Christ. I mean that. Outside of Jesus Christ I am Skubala. If you don’t know what that word means then click it and read the blog post I recently wrote in regards to it. (Please don’t be offended by it, but understand the truth of what I’m teaching in that blog.) You must grasp this…anyone outside of Jesus Christ is set for eternal destruction. So, for clarity…anything good in me is Jesus.
So…I end this tough reality blog with the following 10 quick points from Chuck Swindoll’s message at that 2009 Catalyst conference where he taught about The Crushing…
1) It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.
2) It’s dangerous to succeed. I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed.
3) It’s hardest at home. No one ever told me this in Seminary.
4) It’s essential to be real. If there’s one realm where phoniness is common, it’s among leaders. Stay real.
5) It’s painful to obey. The Lord will direct you to do some things that won’t be your choice. Invariably you will give up what you want to do for the cross.
6) Brokenness and failure are necessary.
7) Attitude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good actions.
8) Integrity eclipse image. Today we highlight image. But it’s what you’re doing behind the scenes that matters.
9) God’s way is better than my way.
10) Christlikeness begins and ends with humility.
Life in Christ is tough. If your life in Christ is not tough…then is your life really like Christ’s? Just read the Bible for proof about that statement.
Geez…this blog is meant to be an inspirational challenge. I know it will be inspiring to those who are going through a crushing. I’m not sure how the rest will take this all. So…I’ll end with this…Life in Christ is the only Hope of the world. It is powerful, conquering and inspiring. If you think this blog post has been depressing…then you have not been through a crushing and you have misunderstood me. This blog is supposed to be inspiring and motivating. When I read it…I am simply reminded that I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me! Maybe this last passage below will remind you of how much you are loved and how badly you should leave room for your crushing.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
Leave room for your crushing.