Monday, September 28, 2009

desire and power

God brought a verse to me recently: "Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him (Phil 2:12-13)." In the past few years, God has changed my heart, radically transforming me into a woman who not only loves Him and pays Him lip service, but who earnestly desires the things of His heart and character. He is growing in me a heart that longs for His name to be glorified in my life. Changing me so that I long less for my dream house and more for my children to grow to love Him with all of their hearts, minds, souls, and strengths. He takes my eyes off of the Pottery Barn catalog and opens them to see the hurting people in my city - and, most amazingly, causing me to want to move.

I lived so selfishly for so many years, despite my outward professions of being His daughter. I spent my time thinking about myself - what I wanted, how I felt, what I had and didn't have and what I thought I needed to be happy. "If I only had..." or "If we could only get to this point..." were a constant refrain in my head. I loved God with a passion, but it ebbed and flowed. Even when I wasn't outright sinning, even when I went through a spiritual "high" period, my life was still about me more than anyone else. I was the picture of a lukewarm Christian. It breaks my heart to think of how many hurting people I've passed by over the years because I was too caught up in myself. But God - oh, our awesome God - He poured out His new mercies on me, again... and again.

What an awesome thing for my passion for Jesus to become steadfast; to want what He wants more than what I want. I am starting to get a grasp on His power - power that supplies me with the supernatural, unexplainable ability to move in obedience to His word. He speaks, and I want to listen. He directs, and I want to obey.

He gives me the desire and power to move towards the things of Him and away from things that grieves Him. In my spending and saving. In what I watch and listen to. In how I discipline my children. In how I discipline myself. It's the power to go for a run rather than re-watch Glee for the tenth time. It's the power to stop and pray, "Lord, place a guard over my mouth" before I yell at my screaming two-year-old having a screaming-two-year-old fit. It's the power to let go of my insatiable need to be visible and let someone else have the spotlight. It's the power to let go of my anger and my need to be right, and approach my husband with a gracious and forgiving spirit. It's the power - and this is the tough one - to make my actions live up to all my big talk.

Make no mistake. Not a moment of gracious, obedient, selfless behavior has anything to do with me. It is all by His grace, by His tender mercy that I can do anything good at all. But each time I drag myself out of bed early to have time before Him in the morning, each time I bury myself in studying His word, each time I pay attention to the Holy Spirit and move in obedience, I find deeper desire to know Him, to serve Him, to follow Him - and more and more power to do so.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

hope springs

Sunday was one of those quiet turning points in my life. There was no emotional breakdown, no blowout fight, no life crisis to precipitate the radical change in my heart. This time the only catalyst for change was a weary, broken heart crying out to God, met by a God who loves me enough to listen. A simple moment that opened my eyes, broke my heart, and changed my direction.

We've been in a desert place for a long time now, and for months I've felt like I was barely trudging through the hot sand, head down and just moving, moving, one exhausted step at a time. Even though I was walking with the Lord, searching his word and and listening for his voice, all I could see were circumstances and things to worry about.

On Sunday morning, I sat in church as we were introduced to some new leaders and naturally, my thoughts were on myself. I wished that I was visible as a servant. That when someone thought about a servant and leader in our church, they would think of me. Immediately, God spoke: "It's not about you." And then: "What good is your servant's heart if you never serve?

How like God to be right. In an instant, my hard heart was softened. My dry spirit was drenched in His. He heard my cry and he poured out His grace. How like God to be faithful, merciful, loving. To be there. To be here.

I committed myself then to walk in obedience to him. I have asked him to use me. Now I need to listen, and when I hear him speak, I need to obey. I want to obey.

"Trust in the Lord and go good, dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart (Ps. 37:3-4)."

I woke up this morning positively bursting with joy. Still in the deepest valley of my life, still facing mountains I can't climb and an enemy who refuses to quit. But I feel real hope and real peace. Still not able to see the way that God has made for us, but I know He has made it. He is waiting, listening, speaking, directing. How sweet to have his presence.