Thursday, January 24, 2013

Break Me...

Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice
...Create in me a clean heart, O God.-
Psalms 51:8,10

Have you ever heard the phrase, “be careful what you pray for?”  Well after a few weeks ago, I can honestly contest to this truth. It all started one Sunday morning when I was getting ready for church (completely late and wrong lol) and the song, “Seattle” by Mary-Mary came on the television.   One line in particular really grabbed my attention:

“Open up my heart, fill me with Your love
Every single part, make me what You’re made of……I just want a heart like Yours.”

I really loved that, and those words stayed in my mind for the next few weeks and it really started changing from a song into a personal prayer.  After practically wearing the song out lol, I started praying that God would start to pull out the things in me that weren’t like Him, and to literally “break my heart of the things that break His heart.”  Now if you’re like me, I already had a preconceived notion what those “things” were….like being softhearted when I saw people that were homeless, or fighting for justice when I saw something I know to be wrong… know all the practical stuff. However, the things that break the heart of such an all powerful God go a little bit deeper than the surface.  Although, the Bible clearly speaks about taking care of the less fortunate and standing for what is right…..God is also totally and utterly concerned about the specific things pertaining to you.  How silly of me to think I could pray this prayer and God not actually begin to do it!  I can honestly say that since I prayed this, it’s as if an extremely large magnifying glass has appeared over my heart, only magnifying the spots and the blotches that I didn’t even know existed….or forgot existed. So take it from me, if you’re not serious about God performing open heart surgery on your life….DON’T ask Him to do it.
"How many times have we abused God's grace and mercy on the things that are ultimately destroying our spirit?"

I absolutely love in Psalm 51 where David asks God to create in Him a clean heart.  That word “create” is so vital, because David wasn’t just asking for forgiveness…..he was literally asking God to break or destroy his old heart and rebuild a new heart within in Him.  How many times have we asked God to forgive us of something, yet turn right back to it once we felt the coast was clear?  How many times have we abused God’s grace and mercy on the things that are ultimately destroying our spirit? God is not our personal genie.  We don’t pull Him out and rub Him when we want our wishes granted, nor is He our one phone call when we need someone to bail us out of jail.  We have to get God back to His rightful place on the throne of our lives.  He’s the absolute supreme being, and don’t you know, He has the courtesy to want to use all of that power in working to make us become just like Him?  Crazy, huh? 

I’ve said this many times before in my blog, but I stand by it: God isn’t as concerned with changing our situation as much as He’s concerned with changing us.  Whew.  If I really had enough time to tell you all the things I’ve experienced in just a few weeks, it would be an entirely new post.  But even through all of the challenges, I can honestly say….it’s making me better.  These recent situations have truly revealed the most deeply hidden traits about myself that I never fully brought to light.  In case you’re wondering…It does NOT feel good to learn these things, but man oh man is it necessary.  I asked God to give me a heart like His, and to break my heart of the things that breaks His heart….and He’s definitely doing it.  Piece by piece.  Layer by layer.  His ultimate goal is to get all the impurities out so that when He puts His face over my heart, He will only see His reflection.   Man, I love Him.  I guess I’m maturing, because it takes a mature Christian to say that despite all this discomfort, I’m so grateful for this process.  My life is far from perfect, I’m experiencing a lot of road blocks and things definitely don't always go my way, but I keep pressing, because at the end of the day, all I really want is "a heart like Yours." 
Bible Study
*For more on this topic, check out the following scriptures:

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Dark Valleys

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me....." -Psalm 23:4

Psalm 23 is a very familiar passage in the Bible to most, with "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want," being the most common scripture out of the entire chapter.  Yet out of all the times I've read this passage and have come to learn it by heart, I went back and read it again and it gave me a completely new understanding.  I also want to make note that I went back and read this in 4 different translations: New King James, New Living, Amplified and The Message.  I didn't do this to be deep lol, but rather each version words the same scripture in a different way.  If you have a Bible that offers multiple translations, or if you have a Bible app on your phone I strongly encourage you to look up scriptures in different translations to help give you a better understanding of the Word.  In this particular scripture, "The Message" translation pulled at my heart in a different way than any of the others.

"Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when You walk at my side." -Psalm 23:4 (MSG)

 These subtle, yet confirming words completely changed my perspective on this scripture. Recently, I had been going back and forth in my mind on a number of different things that have been occurring in my life.  I was beating myself up on certain decisions I made and opportunities I chose not to take because after praying on it, I felt that wasn't the direction God was taking me in. However, after making these decisions, it seemed like things were getting worse.  Which led me into a terrible state of confusion and frustration.  I kept thinking, "but God, if this is what you wanted me to do...why do I feel like I'm being punished?  Why do I feel like I made a mistake....or I made the wrong turn?" I just couldn't understand why I would be experiencing so much turbulence even after seeking Him and making these decisions after prayer.  But then I read this scripture, in that particular translation, "even when the way."  Those four words tell me that just because I'm experiencing some challenges and some set backs, it doesn't mean that it's not still God. 

"We must learn to become completely reliant on God and His word."

When I see those words it tells me that sometimes "the way" is going to take me into some dark valleys.  Sometimes "the way" is going to take me on what seems more like dirt roads than defined pavements, but just because I'm in those dark places doesn't mean I'm still not on the right path and in the will of God.  Sometimes those "dark valleys" are exactly where God wants us to be....why? Because if we go on to read further in verse 4 David says, "I'm not afraid when you walk by my side."  To me everything circles back to dependence on God.  We must learn to become completely reliant on God and His word.  The Bible can't just be a fuzzy bedtime story, but it has to be the reference point of every single move that we make. 

"It's not by coincidence, it's not by happenstance, but it's by design that you are where you are."

As Christians, we focus so much on triumph and victory (which is definitely the outcome) but we sometimes fail to mention there's a middle step required in between to get there.  We can't be overcomers without anything to overcome.  I truly thank God for His word and how it confirms so many things in my life.  I haven't made a wrong turn, I haven't strayed off the path.  I'm just walking in an area that requires me to hold His hand a little tighter and to draw in a little closer because He can see things in darkness I could never see in broad daylight.  It's not by coincidence, it's not by happenstance, but it's by design that you are where you are.  I was recently reminded by a friend that Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," which simply means that we don't know!!! God is the one in control and He's the one ordering our steps and He knows the way. Even if that way happens to go through the darkest, lowest, loneliest times of our life, it's worth being there because it's nothing like walking with Jesus. It may not look good, and Lord knows it doesn't feel good, but be confident in knowing that it's all for your good.  Take assurance in knowing that He purposely brought you to this "valley" so He could purposefully bring you out.  This dark place is just another opportunity to experience Christ in a closer way.


Bible Study
*For more on this topic, check out the following scriptures: