After Jesus took the loaves and the fish, He blessed them. With the blessing of God freshly given, He immediately broke them. The distribution to come, the application of the blessing given to those present that day, was only possible because of the breaking that came first. We will look at the blessing in greater detail tomorrow, but for today, we focus on the breaking.
"Breaking" is a process that is often frightening and uncomfortable for us. We neither like it nor enjoy it, but it cannot be avoided if we want to become what God intended. "Breaking" is a vital part of making us useful to the kingdom of God. Like a wild horse, whose power cannot be harnessed unless the will is changed, we, too, require a bending of our will to that of the Father.
We call it "breaking" when applied to horses, but that is not really the best term. There are people who do "break" horses. They will apply force to the point that the horse learns what will cause painful force again and complies to avoid the pain. This technique can be dangerous for the horse and the trainer.
There is another method of "breaking" horses that is based on the theory that distrust and fear drive most horses to be uncooperative and causes them to resist. In this method, ropes, blankets, saddles, bit and reins are introduced carefully, and the horse is drawn in to the trainer with gentle but persistent pressure, rather than harsh and painful application of a whip. It is very effective and results in a bending of the will in an attempt to please the trainer. It is vastly different from the traditional breaking and gives a far greater result.
Our Lord can certainly apply painful "breaking" methods, as Jonah can attest, but He masterfully uses more gentle processes when possible. The crowing of a rooster was incredibly effective in the breaking of Peter's pride. That breaking could not be avoided if Peter was to become the kind of leader God intended. The Damascus Road experience was not easy for Saul, nor was his temporary blindness, but it was not the application of painful circumstances that broke his will. It was the appearance of the Son of God, speaking directly to him, that opened his spiritual eyes. That gentle pressure resulted in the transformation of Saul to Paul and the birth of the worldwide missionary movement. The temporary blindness simply stopped him in his tracks and forced him to listen to the voice of God rather than to his own angry voice. That time of breaking changed Paul forever.
What we often fail to realize is that breaking is not optional. The five loaves and two fish made a wonderful lunch for a boy, and there was nothing wrong about that lunch. When broken by the hand of the Son of God, however, those loaves and fish could feed thousands. Just as the bread and fish were not distributed until they were broken into pieces, we cannot be used of God effectively, with the greatest impact, until we are broken. Our own breaking will come. We need to understand that, and to welcome it. The amount of pressure involved will depend largely on the amount of resistance we give to our Lord, whose sole purpose in the breaking is to make us useful in the Kingdom of God.
Have you experienced that time of breaking that bends your will to God's? Are you experiencing that breaking now? Rejoice in the breaking, for God will use it to overcome your distrust and fear, replace your anger with humility, and mold you into someone who can be used of God to change the world.
Broken and useful. What a wonderful way to be!