Dear reader, how are you today? Coming off of a holiday weekend can leave one feeling a bit disappointed and a little tired. Today we return to routine tasks and maybe even have to clean up extra from a weekend of fun. We will be doing laundry, picking up floors, clearing counters, and getting a few groceries. How do you react when fun is over and life gets back to normal?
Our attitudes in these situations reveals a lot about our hearts. My childishness and laziness want to rule, tempting me to leave the laundry and unpacking for tomorrow. The bit of wisdom in my heart reminds me that if I get it going, the momentum will pick up and the work will get done sooner rather than later. Then I'll be able to sit for a little break with the work complete; and it will be a restful break, not a distracted, restless, I-should-be-working-but-I-don't-want-to pause.
The heart has come up for me a lot this week, making it the perfect topic for today's OPEN post. I want to be OPEN to hearing what God is trying to tell me and (even better) OPEN to responding and doing as I hear the Word. The Bible has a bit to say about how important it is for us to respond to the Word and not be mere hearers!
It all came to a head Sunday with a reading in Luke 6 about loving one's enemies. We all love our friends. There's no challenge in that. But Jesus teaches His disciples to love their enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. This is the way of the people of the Kingdom of God. In the devotional I'm working through by John Killinger, he calls such people, people of the loving spirit.
O Lord, I want to be a person of the loving spirit. But, boy, it feels like I have a long way to go!
Later in the morning, the preacher at my in-law's church was preaching about the time when God dethroned Saul because He did not do as God commanded with whole-hearted devotion and exact obedience, in I Samuel 15. As the preacher moved into application he said: A divided heart is the worst type of heart condition.
O Lord, I do not want to be a person of a divided heart. But, boy, it feels like I am so often!
He went on to offer some ways to "check our vital signs," to see how our heart is doing:
- How is my obedience? Am I almost obeying or am I obeying all the way?
- Do I trust God? Is trust my natural instinct or do I question and try to do things my own way?
- Is my faith genuine?
Saul did not obey as God commanded because He did not trust God's wisdom and had not placed His faith fully in the true King. It cost him dearly.
Friends, if we settle for "almost" it costs us dearly, too! We miss out on the joy and wonder that can be ours when we go "all in" with God. We miss seeing what GOD can do in situations when we love our enemies, when we live as people of the loving Spirit. We are left hopeless in our anxiety and turmoil. But going with God sets us free! We don't know what will happen on the other side of obedience, trust, and faith, but we know God - who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow - is there working all things out for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.
I want to be OPEN to living as God calls me to live, in faith, trust, and obedience. I want Him to do surgery on my useless divided heart to make it whole and healthy. He can! He can for me and He can for you, too.
Time to take action:
Read the story of Saul in I Samuel 15:1-23. Then take some time to pray through the "vital signs" questions, asking the Lord to help you see ways your heart is divided and renewing your commitment to Him alone. Be OPEN to what He has to say to you and to believing that He can forgive and transform you, day by day.
May God grow us to be people of the loving spirit who reflect His love in a world that is longing for redemption, in Jesus' name. Amen.
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