God promises to take us from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18) and to teach us line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little bit, there a little bit (Isaiah 28:10), so I’m not sure why I’m surprised every time my faith gets an overhaul. Somehow it feels like I’m getting born again, again even though I never got up from sitting cross-legged at His feet.
I like to read stuff that conflicts with what I already believe because I think it helps purify my heart. I know this is not the norm— we’re all so much more comfortable reading and hearing what we agree with, myself included. But I stopped being interested in comfort 5 years ago when my marriage almost ended and I had a dramatic conversion to become a follower of Jesus. Now my passions are truth and growth. I’ve learned a million things about a million things since then (I still know nothing), but the one thing that resonates above everything else is: when it comes to God, everything starts and ends with the condition of your heart.
Want to know if you’re going to heaven? Check your heart. Want to know if you’re serving God the way He would have you serve? Be still and listen to your heart. Want to know how to handle a situation? What does your heart say? Want to know if you’ve forgiven or received forgiveness? How’s your heart? If you do this and you experience undeniable peace and calm, your heart is right on the matter. Feel the teensiest twinge? You’ve got work to do. (Or rather, you’ve got to allow God to do His work and you’re currently impeding it.)
Inner conflict is a strong indication that your heart has a rough spot. It’s a sign that God’s asking you to grow in that area. I believe that a whole and healed person can read or hear or discuss ideas that conflict with what they believe and still remain calm and open. It doesn’t mean they abandon what they believe; it means they’re secure enough in who they are and whose they are that they don’t need opinions as self-defense. And someone who’s brimming over with a heart purified by God’s love isn’t afraid of conflict. God will either use it to bring them higher (we’ve all got plenty more to learn) or to strengthen their convictions. They know that God can reach anyone, anywhere, and that love is disarming. We can be His little ambassadors by reflecting His image and giving others what He gives us: time and freedom and choice to take our own journey into His arms.
This is why I’ve become such a huge FAN of Jen Hatmaker and her writing. It challenges what I’d come to believe about Christianity and how to walk out my faith in Jesus while I’m here on earth. Jen’s new book For the Love has now hit #2 on the NY Times Best Seller List (not surprised) and it is a delightful mix of the funniest stuff you’ve ever read about yoga pants, social media, and parenting, mixed with thoughtful prose that will lovingly (but decisively) lead you to consider the condition of your heart.
I’ll tell you this much: I’ve come too far, laid down too much, forgiven enough, and failed too often to miss the mark. I will run and complete my race. I will ask God to deal with me each day. Because there’s been enough ugly in this world to break my heart into a trillion pieces and the only thing that will make it OK and make it all worthwhile is eternity in a place of love and justice. If the cost is my complete humility, then I’ve counted the cost and I’m paying up.
It’s so reassuring that we can start where we are and God will do the heavy lifting. Our only job is to allow Him access to our hearts. It’s how we come into relationship with Him, it’s how we receive healing, it’s how we serve others, it’s how we empathize, and it’s how we one day join Our Lord in heaven. He’ll take us exactly where we need to go and deal with exactly what needs dealing with in us IF we give Him permission.
I can’t tell you how much I love you guys. I’m so honored to be in this together with you. THANKS for being here. It means the world to me!