This week I finished reading an uncorrected proof of Glenn Packiam’s “Blessed, Broken, and Given: How Your Story Becomes Sacred in the Hands of Jesus.”* I did see a few places where two words stuck together, but overall I couldn’t tell this was a proof. (Hopefully someone catches that, but those words might have run together in the Kindle version only.) From the loaf of bread on the cover and the description, I surmised that Packiam would go into the uses of bread in Scriptures to apply to my daily walk with Christ. I left Packiam’s table feeling so full of information that I’ve had a hard time writing a review worthy of the study. I thought, “How much should I share?” Part of the joy of reading is making discoveries.
I could tell from his writing style that I would have no difficulty staying with this study. Sometimes I’ve been excited about a study topic and opened the book to find the writer may have envisioned a scholarly Bible student or theologian and not…well, me! Packiam made me feel welcome at his table. He brought out the courses, labeling each section with a word or two. I read a chapter a day and found that each time I came back I left filled with new pathways to understanding what I thought were well-trodden passages in the Bible.
Packiam started out with a course on the uses of bread in Scripture, as well as some background on some of the ways scientists and philosopher in the past have influenced how we see God today. Some people think of God as having created people, animals, and the Universe, but then leaving us to fend for ourselves. Others know they need God, but feel like they should help Him out, become more self-reliant, a master or mistress of their own design. Packiam said as children we had a great imagination, but lost that imagination as adults. (Think of all we fail to see today, things that would fill us with wonder.)
I felt as I started this study that Packiam was taking me through information I learned from Bible stories, or even prayers learned as a child, and then, like Dr. Charles Stanley during one of his sermons, was saying, “Look here! Don’t miss this!” Examples are:
- God is the giver of our daily bread. (Matthew 6:9-13)
- God provides the Israelites manna from Heaven that they gather in the wilderness each day during their exodus from Egypt. (See Exodus 16)
- Bread is the law of the Lord, the 10 commandments, “…man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
- Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35) and takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to the disciples in what is the first communion/last supper. (Matthew 26:26-29)
The words “Blessed,” Broken,” and “Given” from the title make up the three “movements” then of this study. Packiam started with the first word – blessed – and explained it as something more than “#Blessed” seen in social media posts. That kind of “blessed” means you’re living what many consider to be “the good life.” It’s not that he thought that a bad thing. We recognize when God gives us gifts of a beautiful day, a great meal, or time with family. What he focuses on is the second kind of “blessed.” Those who follow Christ are blessed even if their circumstances don’t look #Blessed, and even if those circumstances stay the same.
Packiam said that when we accept Christ we have a new identity, a “renaming.” The second word from the title – broken – comes in here. The brokenness we experience whether from sin, illness, abuse, poverty, etc. — all are valuable to God. Packiam shared the story a friend told him about the Japanese art of Kintsugi, or “golden joinery.” The artist took broken pieces of pottery and with a mixture of gold dust and resin filled in the cracks and made repairs. What resulted was something more interesting and beautiful. He said some people were accused of purposely breaking pottery in order to have the repairs done that made their vessels more beautiful. Like the technique of Kintsugi, God fills in the broken places in us with His grace. Packiam said Jesus uses our brokenness in a way that we get the opportunity “to participate in the work” of showing others He is for them. He loves them. (location 665).
“When your life becomes blessed and broken in Jesus’ hands, He gives you out for the life of the world,” Packiam says. “You become the way others find the Bread of Life. But to be that way, you must first experience the blessing and embrace the brokenness – only then will you be consecrated to bring change in powerful ways.” (Location 274)
What he said here resonated with me. From an early age, I knew when I became a Christian that I became a messenger for Christ. I didn’t know what that meant until I’d walked through some valleys with Jesus and then saw opportunities to talk to others with similar struggles whether from depression, anxiety, chronic illness or pain. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5) I do have parts of my life’s story I would love to bury. At times I have thought that I didn’t have anything to give to others. So much of society labels our worth with our achievements on the job, in school, or how many “likes” we have on social media. Who wants to talk about their failures? I don’t always jump at the chance to share my struggles with depression or anxiety. Nor do I like to talk about the symptoms I experience daily from chronic pain and illness. I sure wish my life looked #blessed.
Packiam would tell me I am blessed even if Jesus doesn’t restore me physically while I’m still here on earth. I know that some day that will change. (I wish that some day were now!) But we have this “treasure in jars of clay”(2 Corinthians 4:7-9), he said, and that’s what makes us blessed even when broken. The biggest periods of spiritual growth in my life have happened during the worst periods I’ve experienced. Jesus understands my brokenness and that becomes part of my testimony.
Finally, Packiam changed the way I view the accounts in the New Testament of when Jesus took the loaves and fishes from someone’s small lunch and multiplied them. He blessed them, broke them up, and gave them to the disciples to share with the multitudes. The disciples had to do their part in sharing the lunch. All were fed and the disciples were even able to gather up a dozen leftovers. Jesus took things that were ordinary and transformed them to satisfy the hunger of people who were seeking Him out. He can take all my experiences, no matter how ordinary they seem (like bread) and bless them, break them, and hand them to me to give out to help others who are seeking Him.
Packiam is one of the senior pastors for New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He gives some background about his life in Malaysia, as well as details about his family life. He also told stories entrusted to him by people he (or his church family) ministered to in order to demonstrate what it looks like to be blessed, broken, and given out for others. He said this study shaped the mission and worship time for his church family.
I can’t wait to share this book — and review my Kindle notes — when this is published. This book is set to come out Aug. 20, 2019. For more information about Glenn Packiam or to preorder, go to https://www.glennpackiam.com/. *Thank you to the publisher for the free electronic copy I received of this proof to review from Netgalley.com.