My heart is so full as I write this. This post might look more like alphabet soup and less like linear thinking. But this is the prequel to the posts that will follow and I hope to communicate at least a little bit of the majesty of a God who is there. He’s alive, friends, more alive and more real than I ever dared hope.
You see, for years, I’ve prayed that I would have a heart like God’s heart. That the things that break His heart, would break my heart and the things that brought Him joy would bring me joy as well. But, to be perfectly honest, so much of my Christian life was spent trying to get it right. Trying to pray more. Trying to love more. Trying to want God more. Trying to evangelize. Trying, trying, trying. I felt that the Christian life was turning from the things I naturally want to do (anything that brings more comfort and entertainment) and disciplining myself to do the things that I didn’t want to do (serving, praying, loving the unlovely).
I knew there had to be more. There was a thread of this throughout the whole Bible. In fact the Gospel itself tells us that we have to stop trusting in our own ability and disciplined lives to make ourselves acceptable to God. And that a real work of God actually changes our hearts to love and obey God.
This is summarized so well in Matthew.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44
Notice that there was great joy in selling everything because he had found something worth selling everything for. He didn’t sell everything and cry for three weeks, feel sorry for himself, pine away after the things he didn’t have anymore, and try hard not to buy it back. NO. It was a no-brainer to sell it all. He found something that was more valuable. A greater yes. And even where I am selling everything because its “the right thing to do”, but still wanting it all in my heart, I\’m missing the point entirely.
And so, God, in His incredible mercy and radical love came down and drew my heart to Himself and changed everything. He’s used extended times of seeking Him, through His word, sermons/books, pain, prayer time with dear friends, serving the least of these; but HE has done the work, and He has done it well.
Where I used to share Jesus like an Amway salesman that isn’t convinced at all that Amway is life-changing, I now can hardly help myself. I want everyone to know my Jesus. He is beautiful beyond words. Praying has become a joy. I find myself weeping over suffering that I never even noticed before. My heart could burst sometimes with the love of God and the joy of being His bondservant.
How completely satisfying to turn from our own limitations to a God who has none. -Tozer
Christianity is an amazing Rescuer coming down and saving a weak, helpless life. And replacing selfishness that leads to death with His very own Spirit that leads to so much life. He completely satisfies and fills every crevice with joy. And as I catch glimpses of His matchless splendor… well it makes the best the world can give look like filthy rags, and I simply worship Him. That\’s it. Its not a long laundry list. I just worship. And as I worship I find everything that I was trying so hard to do just happening. I recognize greater faith, deeper joy, less selfish love. And I know that has to be His Spirit in me.
This is a call to come and die. But Christ bids us come and die for something that’s worth dying for.
Oh, Christian, come! Come and see for yourself. He is delightful beyond all telling! And when you truly give up your life, you will find life as it was meant to be lived. Where Jesus is literally all you want.
And you know what happens when Jesus is all you want? You get everything you want – all of Jesus. He does ask everything. But He gives Himself in return. And that will set your heart ablaze.
Set a man on fire and even unbelievers will come to watch him burn. – Leonard Ravenhill
*It would be hard to properly credit everything I’ve quoted in this post, but if you want a really good resource on this topic, check out this Paul Washer sermon on “How God Views His Bride.