There is a Crack in Everything

“Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen,  Anthem

A crack in everything. As someone who has experienced brokenness in my life,  I appreciate the wisdom of these simple words. You see, I am intensely aware of being different then others.

I had a night job working my way through school frying donuts.  I remember clearly an incident were I overheard my boss telling someone that, “Bryan is one of the most eccentric people I have ever met.” Now I honestly was not trying to be odd, or eccentric.

To put this in perspective, I just happened to be taking N.T. Greek at the time and knew that the word for eccentric was a contraction, (of ek, meaning “off, or off to one side, and “centros”, meaning, “center”).  He was saying that I was “off centered”. That really troubled me because I always felt like I was intensely stable, and very much a well-balanced person. (But I was just 22.  I guess that fact alone explains much.)

Cohen’s poem tells us certain things. First, he describes bells that can’t be used, they don’t work anymore. Second, he tells us of our need to get real and to understand that “a perfect offering” is beyond our capability. Maybe 30 years ago, ‘naive idealism’ might have carried the day for us. But now I’m in my mid-50s  and I have tried to figure out a thing or two.   By then we start to see the cracks in everything, nothing has gone by untouched. We live in a fallen and broken world.

But the poet delivers a paradoxical truth, he states, “that’s how the light gets in.”

To learn this deeply, is to turbocharge your recovery. You’re a broken person. But that is actually a good thing. It summons up a discernment of how we grow spiritually.

I find it quite astonishing that the broken, weak, and the burned-out are closer to the Kingdom then the strong, the sure, and the gifted. This is a rich and an incredible truth, we are to see our brokenness and ruination in a whole different perspective.  We must see that that is how the light gets in.

“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”

Matthew 5:3

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”

Vance Havner


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Chosen People of Faith

Shepherd of Hermes, (catacombs c. 160)

The Shepherd of Hermas, written c.125 AD, repeatedly declares that the Church has always existed, since the beginning of creation. The Old Testament believers are joined by those in the New Testament Christians in one single community of faith. Paul asserts that this faith unites us with each other; that we all have a common calling. (Hebrews 11.)

It seems you share a familiar bond, perhaps closer than you think, with Abraham, Noah or Isaiah. All of the OT saints are welded to us as we walk out our faith in Jesus. Personally I find that comforting.

God has always had a people who have been “chosen.” As a broken believer I will take all the godly encouragement I can. We are pulled in so many different directions; it’s hard sometimes to cope. Knowing I walk in an “unbroken line” of the faithful gives me “vim and vigor.”

I can now more deeply relate to guys like Joseph, who faithfully followed God from slave-to-prince. Or the three Hebrew children who walked around in the fiery furnace. By faith we possess the same hope as they did, we have the same God and Father. I believe it wouldn’t be off-base to call them family.

The nuances become clearer as we reflect on our mental illnesses. Noah built an ark. I’m constructing a sane mind. He went through the jeering abuse from his neighbors. I have to decide to get out of bed. All must be done through faith. Faith in God unites us. Faith is that which gives us “a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7.) Faith in God connects me with Noah.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.”

Hebrews 11:1-2, NLT

Hebrews 11 connects our faith with theirs. It even hints that our own faith enhances their own.

“All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.”

Hebrews 11:39-40

I didn’t mean to dump a load of “dry theology” on you. But I suspect that there could be healing for us if we venture to take it up. Good theology can be like good hygiene, if you don’t have it you will notice. (So will your friends.) I have come to see that the things we believe, affect us in significant and profound ways.

Your 21st century struggle of faith is as significant as David’s own battle with Goliath. It’s something to consider anyway. Read Hebrews 11.

“Faith makes all things possible… love makes all things easy.” 

D.L. Moody

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For the Repeat Offenders Who Are Loved, [A Poem Prayer]



Every family has a rascal, someone who breaks the rules

a delinquent of untold frustration and sleepless nights

a repeated offender and bearer of woe

The problem child who needs the most chastening.

Is this why you love me most persistently?

When you correct me, is it because

I’m the one most contrary

Or because you love me so?”


I wrote this thinking about Hebrews 12 and God’s purpose of chastening. I don’t pretend to understand this dynamic; but my childhood was punctuated by so much difficulty. As a father, my two children are now grown and fatherhood has been far easier than my dad had with me.

7 “As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”

Hebrews 12:7, 10-11, NLT

I think we really understand our Heavenly Father when we spend quality time with this part of scripture. We are given insight into His care and into our own issues. It is a good thing He gives us— it enriches our spiritual lives. When He disciplines you, He proves that He is your Father. It’s critical to remember: God’s correction is always for our good.

“Father, I’m so sorry that I grieve you. I promise to behave. Thank you for being a faithful Father to my soul. Amen.”

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