O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleads for his neighbor or his friend! Job 16:21
George Bernard Shaw the famous play-write of the late 1800’ and early 1900’s is credited with saying these words: “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.”
These words are still true today. Unconcern for others is another self-indulgent sign of our materialistic age or lack of a relationship with God. It seems the age of neighbor helping neighbor is forgotten, becoming a concept of an age gone by.
During his first furlough as a missionary to China Adlai A. Esteb, a poet and Pastor of the mid-20th century, wrote this prayer in his Bible opposite Job 16:21. It goes like this. “O God, take me, shake me, break me, make me!”
That is quite the prayer, many of us are not ready to pray a prayer like that. But here is how he explained the prayer.
Take Me: Because we all come short of the glory of God. This is why God must take over. When a man surrenders and says, “God, take me, just as I am without one plea,” then God can begin the wonderful process of fitting him for usefulness here and for heaven hereafter.
Shake Me: When God takes us He may have to shake us out of our comfortable nest, as a mother bird shakes up her nest to force the little birds to learn to fly. Job said God was shaking him to pieces, but God had better things in store for Job. God shook Joseph out of his father’s home, where he would probably have become a spoiled, pampered son. God led him to Egypt, where persecution and prison awaited him. But out of the crucible he came forth to be one of the greatest spiritual heroes of all time. He could look back upon all his testing trails and say, “God meant it for good.”
Break Me: Our hard hearts must be broken as farmer would “Break up fallow ground.” We must become like fallow ground to God so that he can plant in us righteousness. I Like this story, yet it seems so harsh. But often it is the only way for God to get our attention. The story is of a shepherd who had to break the leg of a little unruly lamb because it was always leading the other lambs astray. It was a natural leader but it would not follow the shepherd. So he broke its leg and then held the lamb in his arms and nursed it back to health. It then loved the shepherd and faithfully followed him. Often our plans must fail so that God’s plans for us can succeed. We need to be broken of self.
Make me. Perhaps God must break me before He can make me all that He wants me to be. When the prodigal son came home, his prayer changed from “give me’ to Make me.”
Perhaps during this difficult time that our nation and the world faces it is a call for us to return to God and pray this same prayer, “O God, take me, shake me, break me, make me! Amen.