A Handful of Quarters

When Brokenness Increases Usefulness

Most of us are not interested in spending money on something that is broken. We are reluctant to buy a used car until we have done a thorough check with Carfax to ensure ourselves that we are not getting stuck with someone else’s junk. The words “valuable” and “broken” do not seem to fit in the same sentence, unless you are looking at things from God’s paradigm.

Our lives have great value to God. In Mark 8:36, Jesus declared: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” The Lord indicates here that our souls are worth more than the entire world. Think about the price that God paid in order for our soul to be saved: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

But while our lives in God’s eyes are valuable, they are only of practical use to God when broken. The truth is, God delights in and uses broken things. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17). “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

When traveling, I purchase most things with a credit card, but I also make sure that I have a little bit of cash with me for incidentals along the way. In fact, it is kind of nice to have a twenty dollar bill or two in my pocket. But while that twenty dollar bill has value, it is not always practically useful. It will not buy a can of soda from a vending machine, or serve me well at a laundromat or car wash. For that reason, I keep the ashtray of my car filled with quarters. A twenty dollar bill and eighty quarters have the same value, but the eighty quarters can be used to buy just about anything, whereas the twenty dollar bill is limited in its usefulness.

How often in our lives do we limit God from using us because we are not broken? Thousands of people needed to be fed on a hillside by the Sea of Galilee one day. The only food that the disciples could come up with was a boy’s lunch that contained five loaves and two small fishes. Philip reminded the Lord that “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little” (John 6:7). If they would have had two hundred days worth of wages they could not have provided an appetizer! But watch what happens! “And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments, and of the fishes” (Mark 6:41–43). In God’s hands, the lunch was more than enough to meet the need—it just had to be broken!

There is an even greater miracle than the feeding of the five thousand that involves something broken. Jesus sat around a table with His disciples one night and took bread and broke it symbolizing His death on the Cross. Paul reminds us of this incident in 1 Corinthians 11:23–24: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and His life serves as a valuable model to each of us, but had Jesus merely lived a sinless life on earth, we would still be lost in our sins and on our way to Hell! His body had to be broken in death in order that we might have eternal life.

God had great plans for Job in the Old Testament. He was wealthy, had numerous servants, and a wonderful family. But God did not want Job to simply have value—He wanted to use him. You are familiar with the story of Job’s troubles, but notice what he said about them: “I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark” (Job 16:12). My friend, God has a “mark” for you to reach in your life. Are you broken so that you can reach that God-given potential?

God has thousands of tasks that He wants His people to accomplish for His glory every day. Maybe you desire to be that twenty dollar bill in God’s hand, or maybe even a fifty or a one-hundred dollar bill! But as for me, I would just as soon be broken into a handful of quarters. That way, no matter what the task—God can always use me.

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