This is a repost of an old blog I wrote in May 2016 when my marriage was falling apart and no body knew about it. My heart was breaking but God’s grace was abounding in those broken places. (You can read the original post here.)
What I’ve come to realise is that, like building muscle, there is a life cycle of breaking open that God does with our hearts. When we think its all over and the pain subsides, life throws us another weight of pain we have to bear. Its not that we failed our last test, its that we stagnated and God wanted us to grow to another level of strength.
Recently I launched my book online and its all about how we were created with an original “Garden Intent”. Who we are at our core being, and who we were created to be, are often covered over by the effects of the sinful, fallen world we reside in. Its like the visceral fat that likes to layer itself around our inner organs. As we exercise and break out muscle, the fat around our body and our organs shed. Muscle is what we need to function at our best so that we can carry out all that God wants us to do. Too often we let our bodies sabotage our destiny because we don’t take time and effort to discipline ourselves into keeping our bodies strong (but I’ll leave that lecture for another blog 🙂 ). But building muscle takes painful pushing against a resistance that is heavier than what we can normally bear. In that process a breaking down of the muscle happens, the muscle is built and the muscle speeds up our metabolism which then helps our body to burn the fat.
Truth is, that building muscle is like building our heart. Our heart is the most important organ that God wants us to exercise as I talk about in this blog. It is a vessel of His love as He pours it into our hearts: And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5 NIV)
If you feel like your heart has been broken too many times…I’m right there with you… but in the breaking, God is bursting forth the real you. He’s making you stronger- if you push through and receive the grace to get through the pain.
Our hearts are fragile monuments of Gods grace. Monuments are reminders of events that have taken place. Here in Ethiopia there are many monuments around that remind us of past battles that have been fought, victories that have been won, people who have impacted this nation. In the same way our hearts stand as a reminder of what battles we have faced and fought, been redeemed from and restored out of, and the grace God has bestowed upon us in order for that to happen. We are recipients of His grace. We therefore carry His grace with us in the depths of our hearts. It is there waiting to be exposed and glorified. Freely we have received, freely we are to give it away.
Monuments are either left uncared for and become callous and rough or they are tenderly maintained and shine through the history of a life that stood for something. Their fragility allows them to go either way pretty fast. f there is anything that reflects the events that have happened in our lives, it is our heart. It stands as a monument for SOMETHING and that something should be God’s grace. But the choice is ours…
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Prov 4:23
When we become callous we block our view of the blessings God has given us . The people of Israel are the monuments we are directed to as a display of grace left uncared for. Gods grace is a gift that like every other gift, we have to steward. The people of Israel had taken their grace for granted and had built up walls around their hearts.
As our hearts become callous they also become heavy. Heavy hearts are not ours to carry. Then our hearts show the world that we are still stuck in the pain of our past… I see too many people these days walking around with inner wounds, bearing the burdens of their broken hearts and not surrendering them to a loving God.
“Our heart is made up of many pockets and God in his grace exposes what’s in those pockets one at a time so it’s not too overwhelming for us to bear.”Cherry Friedmeyer, director of Ellilta Women at Risk
As we come into different situations or conflicts of the heart God shows us areas of our heart that need cleansing, purging or just plain filling – sometimes he just shows us that we have empty pockets that we are trying to fill with the wrong things. But He wants to fill it with His love.
David prayed this prayer as a result of his sin being exposed by his friend Nathan. God had showed him the state of his heart at that time and in response he laid out his heart.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,And cleanse me from my sin…Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness,That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins,And blot out all my iniquities.Create in me a clean heart, O God,And renew a steadfast spirit within me…For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.Sometimes we need to be bold like David and say “Take my heart God…Do as you may-break it, clean it, change it, restore it, purge it, empty it then fill it up again.”Psalm 51: parts of 2-17
Recently I started exercising again with our intern from SBU, Beth. As we began to reawaken muscles that had lay dormant for so long, I started to complain of pain I was feeling in my thighs. Her reply was that my muscles were being broken down so that they could be built up again and made stronger. This is what happens with our hearts. He breaks it down, He builds capacity in us for us the expand the Kingdom in our hearts so that we can bring it to this earth.
Graham Cooke in his book “Uncommon Love”
“How do you love when love is not returned? You discover what love really is and you give it anyway even if nothing comes back. It’s not easy and it’s painful and it will break your heart, but the interesting thing is that when God puts it back together, it’s always bigger. You end up with a bigger heart. I don’t know how God does that, I just know it’s true! “
God does this so we can pray like David “Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice!” And as we experience that joy our hearts are resurrected again in new life and the pain that we entered into when we surrendered our hearts to Him, fades.
Having a broken heart and a broken spirit does not seem like the ideal way to please God or to live the Christian life. But more than sacrifices or burnt offerings, THIS is what pleases God. That we bring our hearts before Him and say “Here is my heart Lord, it is broken..”
In exercise, the way your muscles are going to be built up is if you keep working and exercising, pushing through the pain so your strength can be built up and in turn experiencing new levels of pain and fatigue. But we must not be afraid or give up.
When we surrender our hearts to God we must remember that we are placing our hearts into the Hands of the Creator, a loving Father, who desires nothing but the best for us. We can confidently trust that Him in this whole process. He LOVES us. He is FOR YOU! Give Him your heart today.
I’m surrendering mine too.
To purchase my new book Into the Garden, click on this link