I gave my heart to Jesus Christ when I was 8 years old and knew without a doubt that He was with me. As I grew, I served Him in every place where I could make a difference. I thought serving was about what I could do for Him; not understanding that my serving is actually making myself available for Him to work His desires through me. This wrong understanding of Christian living eventually found me filled with loneliness, emptiness and a spiritual void that nothing in the world could fill.
When I was in my mid-20s, I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit that frightened me. As I was praying one evening, I felt His love and His strength radiate through my being. The experience both excited and frightened me. I had never heard anyone speak of an encounter with God, and I began to realize that the Christian life had more depth and spirit than I had been led to believe. This experience showed me that God is life and love and strength. I was afraid of what this Spirit of the Living God would look like if I allowed HIM to stay with me, to direct my path and to lead me. So I turned from God and ran as hard and as fast as I could in the direction of the world. It took me several years of running before I realized that the world had nothing to offer me except guilt and more emptiness. Where else could I run except back into God’s arms?
In my late 30s, my Christian journey found me again working for Jesus and inviting Him to follow me. Still, the emptiness of my spiritual journey haunted me and I began to desire to know God in His fullness. I knew that when I invited the Holy Spirit to fill me, my life would head down a road that would be less traveled and that would not be popular among most of ‘my’ people. Yet my life was empty and I needed something from God that would give me purpose and direction.
I began praying Psalm 51:10, 12 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” I prayed this scripture for many months – in sincerity and in conviction. It was time to surrender my life to the Lord and to throw all caution to the wind of what others thought of me. As I prayed this psalm, a change began working in me. The Lord began to show me things in my heart that did not reflect Him. As He would bring these things to my attention, I would wrestle within myself and with Him about whether or not I should, could, would submit to God and allow Him to bring cleansing and renewal to me. Little by little, areas of my life were surrendered to Him. The more I submitted, the more I saw the depth that sin and ugliness had taken root in my heart. At times, it felt that the darkness of my heart was hidden in so many small crevices that I would never be pure or cleansed. Would I ever be able to reflect the love and grace of God with a heart so ugly? There were so many untruths that I had bought into about God; there were so many things culturally that I had learned that needed to be unlearned and retaught. I was a mess and I needed so much work. So much help.
How did God reveal these things to me? As I would read scripture, it seemed words would jump off the page that would help me see areas that He wanted to address. For example, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34. God used this verse to help me understand the content and motives of my heart. As I began to pay attention to the words that I spoke, I realized that my heart was filled with criticism, gossip, judgement and competitiveness. As I read from Matthew 6:28, I realized that I spent a great deal of my life worrying about things that I had no control over rather than trusting God. As He would illuminate a scripture for me, it became alive to me and I saw the importance of allowing Him to work in me to cleanse me. Matthew 12:34 is still being worked out in me, and will be until the day I die. (“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.” James 3:9) We are all a work in progress!
Now He had my attention. I began to pray, “Lord, change me. Change me from the inside out. Make me a reflection of You.” And He began answering my prayer by first of all, speaking to me through His scriptures.
In our spiritual journey, at times the Lord will place a scripture on your heart; other times it may be just a word or a picture image. Lean into those opportunities to search through scripture to discover what it is HE is trying to speak into your heart or teach you. Put a little time and effort into searching scripture (using a concordance in the back of your Bible is a big help) to discover what new message God may have for you each day.
Questions for Reflection:
- What does your quiet time look like? Do you dedicate 10-15 minutes each day to sit quietly with your Father in Heaven to give him praise and thanksgiving for the gifts in your life?
- Have you invited the Holy Spirit into your life to help you grow and change from the inside out?
- Have you experienced God speaking to you through scripture? Please write a brief paragraph about the experience.
- Have you had an encounter with God that left you fearful or made you want to run away from Him? If so, explain. How can you plant your feet into the foundation of Him so that you will not turn and run from the works of the Spirit that overwhelm you?
Your word is alive and active. It speaks to us when we read it, hear it, sing it, and meditate on it. Teach us, O Lord, to love your word and to understand that you speak to us over and over through your scriptures. Give us a love for your Word. Amen.