I have a great life! I have a God who loves me, not only me, but me personally. A husband who adores me. (It hasn't always been that way, our relationship has been tried by fire many times; but that is for another day.) I also have two children that seek to please us. A beautiful home and every fleshly desire I or my husband could spoil ourselves with. As great as that sounds my heart has been so empty, my insides so lifeless, void of joy.
Confused by why the two drastic elements are moving simultaneously has brought me much frustration.
God has been moving in our family to make some changes in our life. See, God has answered our prayers; our longing to simply obey His commands. But He has had to prepare our hearts for the hurt that we go through while we are tried by fire.
Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part into the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, Jehovah is my God.
...And this is how we KNOW we are His!
The mistake I have been making, which is clear now, is that I have thought I am entitled to "feel good". I thought, if I wasn't full of patience, love, joy, confidence and the right thing to say, I was somehow void of God in my life. What I had been missing is I was providing the increase, in my own strength, of what God has been working in me. Once I received any ounce of the latter gifts I ran to the top of my proverbial hill and planted my flag as though I had conquered them on my own. How foolish I am.
It's mind boggling and sometimes questionable (well for one who lacks faith as I do) the way God has set up things in my life as repetitive reminders of the direction He is leading. It's also very encouraging when the very things I have been battling have been preached on Sunday mornings. With God's constant reminders I can see the importance of church leaders speaking a message God has given them whether 5 days or 5 min before a service. My heart condition and my confidence in my relationship with God has been re-defined, in the right direction, as the weeks go by.
The grand illumination started at church a few weeks back with a small ray of light in the form of a challenged to spend time before the Lord; for His revelation of what it looks like for me to be crucified in Christ; only.
Romans 6:6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin;
God so graciously shared 15 pictures, in His word, of what I am to look like, care about and think on. Of course He only shared 15 because that's all my prideful heart can handle at this time, but the one I would like to focus on is this:
Philippians 3:8 Count all things as loss for further knowledge in Christ for whom I have suffered loss. They are but dung that I may win Christ.
I have been dangerously guilty of holding on to a few near and dear areas in my life that I was afraid would take away the very essence of what I, Sarah, was made up of. I have had an overwhelming desire to spend my time specifically on my wardrobe and decorating my home. Seems petty as I reread that last sentence but I know that I know they are intimate hindrances in my relationship with God. Does this mean we should all stop shopping...well no. Although I'm sure your husband would thank me. The definition of sin is to know right, and do wrong. Although there are basic laws we all must abide by according to God's word, we all have different sins when it comes to obeying God directly.
Those areas have been keeping my mind and my heart occupied and facing in the wrong direction. I can feel the joy and the life being sucked right out of me as I struggle with letting go. As I have been living with this heavy heart questioning, wondering and frustrated with God, He met me where I was, in my weakness and put His arm around me just as He had done with Peter in John 21:15-17. Jesus asked Peter twice if he loved (agape) Jesus. Each time Peter answered he loved (Phileo) Jesus. The third time Jesus said I Phileo you Peter. The significance here is the meaning of the word Love. While Jesus is dedicated we don't always understand His love for us. Our love for Him is lacking so He comes along side us and fills the gaps.
As my struggle with the Lord reached a final crescendo this afternoon, God did something for me that made me laugh and cry at the same time. My heart has been hard and empty, knowing my own faults I had been begging Him to soften my heart; He did just that.
As I was preparing lunch, no change in my heart heaviness, I was chopping veggies for broccoli soup. I was working on this recipe strictly off memory due to trying to get lunch made in a hurry for my family. Once all the veggies were sauteing I realized I forgot an onion. I thought about leaving it out just to get through with the recipe, but I decided it was needed. I quickly ran for the fridge and grabbed an onion. Once I began taking off the outer skin I realized it was rotten. Frustrated due to the time I was wasting I decided to cut it in half real quick just to see if there were any salvageable parts. Immediately my heart melted as I saw myself, in that onion, how God saw me. I also saw a bit into the future that I am so scared is before me if I let go of my "self."
Laying before me on the counter was a rotten outer layer revealing and a beautiful white, moist onion ready to make all the difference in my broccoli soup.
That was me left behind. A smaller, weaker version of myself that brings more beauty to the Lord than I could imagine...If I will let God work on me. Burn us up in the fire. We must not be afraid that we will die in that fire, but that only the usable elements will be left behind.
It's for His kingdom, not ours.