By B.J. Funk
“I set out on a broken road, many years ago / Hoping I would find true love along the broken road / But I got lost a time or two / Wiped my brow and kept pushing through / I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you.”
If you are a country music lover, you will recognize these words from Rascal Flatts in the song “God Blessed the Broken Road.” Though it is clearly a song for lovers, it is also transparently Christian in its message. Did you find your way to Christ on a broken road? Did you get lost in your search for a relationship with Jesus? When did you recognize that every sign of brokenness was pointing you straight to a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ?
As we trip over the unevenness of the road, we finally realize we are incapable of walking it without his help. As we step across the rough cracks, we may try to jump over them, smooth them, or ignore them, but eventually, we realize that this particular broken road is what God is using to bring us to him.
The song continues: “Every long lost dream led me to where you are / Others who broke my heart, they were like Northern stars / Pointing me on my way into your loving arms / This much I know is true / That God blessed the broken road / That led me straight to you.”
While it is difficult to wrap our minds around the thought of God working through our brokenness, Romans 8:28 reminds us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This does not mean, of course, that everything that happens to us is good. We live in a fallen world where evil is rampant. However, God is able to redeem our difficult and tragic situations. It is a good that we could never have imagined or planned on our own: when God plants his foot beside us on the broken road, he does amazing and wondrous things in our lives and in the lives of others. As the song says, he blesses our broken road and uses it to bring us straight to his loving arms.
The next verse grabs my heart. “I think about the years I’ve spent just passing through / I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you / But you just smile and take my hand / You’ve been there, you understand / It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true.”
Did you have some “passing through” years, when you took life for granted, or thought you would live forever, and wasted many hours living for yourself and no one else? I did, and I didn’t even know it. As a young adult, I was in church every Sunday, prayer groups and Bible studies, but my heart still belonged to me. Out of nowhere, a broken road appeared and tumbled my world. I struggled to walk on it, fell and skinned my knees more than once, and cried all the while. At the end of the road, however, I found out what the good God was doing with my brokenness. I watched God walk that road with me. Sometimes, I even sensed he cried with me.
I lost years with self on the throne. Death to self was a foreign concept; now it is a daily process. I would love to have the time I lost, and give it back to him.
This last verse is illustrated clearly in the biblical story of the loving father who welcomes his wasteful prodigal son home. When the son finally comes to his senses and returns home, his father takes his son’s hand, understanding and loving him back to his heart and home. The wise father knows that his son’s selfishness has served a grander plan—a plan that would change a conceited son into a mature man.
A few lines from the devotional Streams in the Desert gives validity to the reason for our broken roads. “It is not until a beautiful kernel of corn is buried and broken in the earth by death that its inner heart sprouts, producing hundreds of other seeds of kernels. And so it has always been, down through the history of plants, people, and all of spiritual life—God uses broken things.”
In this season of thanksgiving and celebration, thank God that he chooses to use you. Thank him for the broken roads that led you straight to him.
B.J. Funk (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Fitzgerald, Georgia. She is the author of The Dance of Life: Invitation to a Father Daughter Dance, a regular contributor to the South Georgia Advocate, and a frequent speaker at women’s retreats.