It seems that the more I know Jesus, the more I realize how true the Word is in Jeremiah:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”Jeremiah 17:9
This week I found that I still struggle with pride and selfish ambition. That might be the majority of my discouragement this morning – that I still have those things in my heart. But God is patient and kind, and so faithful even when I’m not. I’m grateful for His Holy Spirit who shows me my heart. My pastor (who I’m also thankful for) challenged us recently to search our hearts and find if there’s anything God can ask us for that we will cringe or have a hard time handing over. I thought I was fine, but
Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.”Proverbs 21:2
God has used circumstances to show me my heart, just like He did with Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32. Yes, sometimes God leaves us to ourselves (does not leave us or forsake us, mind you, rather lets us go off on our own) to show us what is in our heart. Sometimes we do well, but other times not so much. Recently, this happened to me. I held on as tight as I could to this thing that I knew God wanted me to let go of. I knew it from the minute I agreed to it. I tried to make it make sense, justify my choosing to go along, but the whole time I felt alone. Not that I was alone, but I had walked out of His covering by making this decision.
Had I gone through with what I’d agreed to, I would have been taking away from the one God had ordained to do it. So I backed out. And it was hard. Which means there’s an issue of heart here I need to deal with and repent of. If God asks you for something and you can’t give it up without crying, being angry, or being hesitant, there’s a problem. And when God has not ordained you to do something, you’d better not try to work yourself in there, let me just warn you right now. It’s not a good feeling to be a Christian and be out of the will of God, even for a minute.
In the book, I Dared to Call Him Father, the autobiographer tells of an experience like this. She suddenly felt herself out of the will of God. This is what she said,
Whenever I did not feel His nearness, I knew that I had grieved Him. I would search backwards until I spotted the time when I last knew His Presence. Then I would review every act, every word or thought until I discovered where I had gone astray. At that point I would confess my sin and ask His forgiveness.”Bilquis Sheikh, I Dared to Call Him Father, pp.110
I’ve taken up this same way. Does my doing anything bring His Spirit closer? No. I have nothing to do with it other than my direct obedience and repentance. He is the faithful One, He never leaves my side. But I leave Him by my sin and disobedience (one in the same), and the only way back to Him is through repentance and obedience. So if you find yourself feeling alone, feeling like God isn’t there, know that feelings don’t change the truth. God is always before you. It is you who moves. Find that place where you’ve moved from Him and repent sincerely. A great prayer of repentance to use is Psalm 51.
This is our life, Christians. Ever realizing our need for a Savior in Jesus Christ; working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). To think that my selfish ambition, my sins of pride and discontent, put Him on the cross is terrible to me. But how glad I am for His grace that covers me when I repent and ask for His guidance.
Take some time today and be grateful for God’s grace over the sins Jesus died for, the big ones and little ones (they are all the same to Him – you break one of His Laws, you’ve broken them all). And thank His Holy Spirit for revealing your heart to you. Pray He continues, and pray you are willing and able to to take His conviction and stay teachable and repentant.
Head up. It’s going to be okay.