Training for Reigning - 15 - Birds with broken pinions

"I walked through the woodland meadows ‘Where sweet the thrushes sing,
And found on a bed of mosses
A bird with a broken wing.
I bound up its wound, and each morning
It sang its old sweet strain;
But the bird with a broken pinion
Never soared so high again."

These pathetic lines belong to a by-gone generation which held pathos in quite as much esteem as present-hour Youth regards those fairytale yarns known as "Westerns." None the less, after a Christian has fallen into sin, and has had time to find out the problems which face a child of God who earnestly longs to "go back and begin again," if often happens that some self-righteous person will quote these old lines - old lines which will strike the one who has strayed like a knell of hopeless doom. Unhappily, all too often in history those seemingly prophetic words have come true! Yet it cannot be in the purposes of God that this always should happen. And so I write with the desire that a clearer understanding of matters and a re-kindling of hope, with fresh spiritual progress may be gained by any of us who may be "birds with broken pinions."
It was to broken-pinioned Israel, a nation seen by the Lord as "a marred vessel" that Jeremiah was sent with His question "0 house of Israel cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 18: 6). The prophet had seen the clay vessel on the potter’s wheel marred in the making. Yet the man did not cast away the clay as worthless. Instead, "he made it again, another vessel"- a parable of the Lord’s ways when He does not remove marred ones to Heaven at once.
"He made it again"! - Oh the goodness and grace of our God! Our Heavenly Potter does not angrily cast us away even when we have sinned grievously. Instead He begins to work on us again, this time to make us ANOTHER vessel. And likely it is for this very reason that the unseeing eyes of men so often have led them to say that fallen ones can never hope to rise again to former usefulness. For the above words do not promise that we shall become vessels restored to our former state, but rather that God will make us into another kind of vessel altogether. So it will be with Israel in a coming day; and so it has been with some whose records God has given us in His Word.
"As seemed good to the potter to make it." In these words the sovereign will of God appears, for while He may make a fallen Peter, or a troublesome John Mark into more prominent vessels than they had been before, yet we do not have any authority for expecting this to be the rule. The Sovereignty of God coupled with His Providence (i.e., His purposes) appear to be the deciding factors. He knows each one of us through and through. His testings have revealed weaknesses to us which have not stood the strain of His moulding. For back behind our fall there was a serious flaw in our character - one we neglected to correct or one we did not know was there. (Oh how constantly does our patient God listen to the cries of utter dismay, "Whatever made me do it? I never thought I could do such a thing! Oh why did He let me do it?" Then it is that an evil spirit is apt to suggest that if God really cared for us He could have stopped our evil course before it was too late. But He allowed us to go on - and get caught! Faith is sore put to it to believe Romans 8: 28 at such times; and the temptations to give it all up, to wish we were dead, or even to take our own life, are hard to overcome. Mostly we just go on living because we can’t help it, filling our days and nights with groans and tears, bitterly disappointed with ourselves, with the Lord - with everything).
But let me try to project a ray of light into all this depression and gloom. For, after all, God is not planning to let us wreck our lives; but rather seeks to get us to such an end of ourselves that we shall turn them over to Him to make the most of them.
Now, generally it is our pride that gets hurt most of all, not only in the fall itself, but also in the shame and humbling that must precede, and should follow, also, our restoration to God and to His Assembly. And here let us remind ourselves that God hates our pride and really desires to smash it to pieces. So that if we have been brought down very low before Him by our folly and sin, and if we have confessed and forsaken it according to
His Word. THEN WE AT LAST HAVE REACHED THE LEVEL ON WHICH HE CAN BEGIN TO FASHION US INTO ANOTHER VESSEL. Then it is that His other promise, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up" (James 4: 8-10) begins to become effective.
But right at this point is where some of us take the wrong turn. A brother, let us say, has been restored to Assembly fellowship. Regret for the past, plus a new zeal to be out and out for the Lord, fires him to try to make up for his lapse. So, instead of keeping to a humble, quiet walk before the saints until the Lord lifts him up, he becomes noticeably active in the meetings - to the disgust of his brethren and sisters, who feel that his repentance has not been very deep.
On the other hand, if only we will act out the requirements of James 4: 10, waiting for God to lift us up, we shall begin A NEW CHAPTER in our lives . . . a chapter in which not prominence, but lowliness, is to be the chief characteristic.
And when will God lift us up? that all depends on the recovery made. Isaiah 40: 27-31 provides the answer, I believe. You see, it is like this: When we sinned we lost most of our spiritual strength - and let us not forget that! And now we have to start to get it back. But how? Verse 31 is the answer. Those broken-pinioned Israelites (vs. 27) were not to be empowered to "mount up with wings as eagles" by a chance to get going again - mark well! There was waiting on God to be done, as well as a course to follow (Isa. 66: 2b); for our attitudes as well as our behaviour require to be corrected. We lost much spiritual strength when we sinned, and now it will take time to renew it. But the bird with the broken pinion CAN soar as high again - quite often higher than ever before. And where? Possibly not in prominence before men . . . but certainly in the vastly safer sphere of fellowship with the living God. WHAT A BLESSED ROLE TO BE FILLED BY A RE-MADE VESSEL! So let us read 2 Corinthians 12: 9a again, and dry our tears. It really can be "better than before!"