COCHRANE, Alberta, Canada (BP)–The altar filled with students broken before the Lord during the invitation at the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary’s first chapel service of its 15th academic year.
“I want to share with you not the most exciting message you will hear, but one you need to hear,” Canadian Seminary President Richard Blackaby told the packed chapel Aug. 29. “Sometimes the only way God will do in your life what he needs to do is through brokenness. He will never be able to change you through a New Year’s resolution. Sometimes he must break you so you realize your desperate need for God to do a work in your life.”
Using the Bible’s account of the life of Saul of Tarsus, Blackaby noted that some people have a distorted view of themselves. Saul was a highly educated man, connected with the most powerful people and extremely zealous for God. “If you really pushed him,” Blackaby said, “Saul would have probably admitted that there was no one on earth God was pleased with more than him.”
However, in the first verse of Acts 9, Saul is described as “breathing threats and murder” against the followers of Christ. Blackaby pondered, “What kind of person are we dealing with here? What kind of person is vindictive toward innocent, godly people? How calloused do you have to be to drag Christian mothers away while their children cry hysterically and then turn and say, ‘Isn’t God pleased with me?’
“Only a blind person,” Blackaby explained.
He then posed the question: “Is it possible for you or I to be blind to what we are really like? Is it possible there are parts of our soul or mind that we like to think are one way when God knows they are opposite of that?
“I have met students and pastors who had no idea what they were really like,” Blackaby recalled. “They thought they were people of integrity when everyone around them would say they were not trustworthy. They were not known for keeping their word.
“Others believed they were good husbands or wives, but if you talked to their spouses or children you knew there were all kinds of problems in their homes.
“Some consider themselves teachable, but those around know they will not receive advice or counsel in any way. They are angry, yet quick to justify their anger and unforgiveness.
“They are blinded to what they are really like,” Blackaby continued, “but God knows what is in the heart.”
Blackaby noted, “It took brokenness to do in Saul’s life what God wanted to do.”
He then related times of brokenness in his own life. “Times would be so hard that I would pray, ‘Lord, I am going through difficult times and I don’t know if I have the strength to go on.’ But then I remember God gently saying to me, ‘Do you want to be used by me? Do you want to be an effective minister for me? Do you want me to make you into the image of Christ? Are you willing for me to do whatever it takes to make you that kind of person?’
“God knew my heart. He knew he had to go deeper than the surface if he was going to use me the way he wanted,” Blackaby said. “I remember on several occasions weeping at my bedside saying, ‘Lord, that’s what I want in my life. As painful as it is, and as fearful as I am of saying it, whatever you have to do is what I want.'”
Blackaby closed his message with a challenge: “Just how serious are you about being willing to be used by the Lord the way he wants? He will never use you until he has made you into the person you need to be. He is not going to take someone who does not fit the assignment and make them do it anyway. He is going to first make you fit the assignment and then he will give it to you. Those people God is going to use mightily trust God to do whatever he needs to do to prepare them.”
The Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary was begun with the help of the International Mission Board in 1987 and is the only seminary of the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists. The seminary is located 15 miles west of Calgary overlooking the town of Cochrane and the Rocky Mountains. The seminary has about 100 students enrolled in its graduate and undergraduate programs, representing a dozen countries including the United States.