Do you ever wonder if God has truly changed your heart? Have you ever noticed the evidence of Him doing it?
I saw such evidence recently in my life. And it amazed me once again how good God is.
I had a friend at the beginning of this year. I didn’t seek him out. I didn’t approach him. I didn’t pursue him. He recognized me from a group event and took time to speak to me. Then we started sitting together at church. Just friends.
And it was God ordained. For when my car died, he was in the neighborhood and picked me up. I didn’t ask him to. He just did. He made sure I was safe and took me home. I will be forever grateful for that.
And then one day shortly after that incident, we weren’t friends anymore. Because he started dating someone. And this girl seemed to decide I was a horrible person for saying I disagreed (mightily and vocally) with a comment made to me. And all of a sudden I was not a part of their lives anymore. My friend abandoned me, and it looked like he was told to cut me out.
And it broke my heart, for a few minutes. And then I decided to roll me eyes and write them off. Because who hugs someone in public after greatly criticizing them in private? What kind of person is your friend one day and being understanding and then the next cannot make eye contact or offer any support?
And I just gave it all to God and chalked it all up to a learning experience. I decided to be thankful that I did not get in any deeper and perhaps was being spared from something dangerous or disturbing.
And I wished them well and hoped they would be happy.
And then God tested me a few weeks ago. Because He allowed me to know this couple, who had quickly married, also quickly separated. And when I found this out, I knew my response was important. I knew my initial reaction would be the evidence. Did I really let it all go? Or was I holding onto unnecessary (and harmful) grudges?
And my reaction even surprised me. I was genuinely sad. My heart immediately filled with compassion.
It didn’t matter how either of them had treated me. It didn’t matter hwo offended I had felt. It didn’t matter how no one had accounted or apologized for his/her behavior.
What mattered was a child of God was hurting. Possibly two of them. And it touched my heart in every place the truth echoed.
And I pray that they can figure out what went wrong and fix it. I pray God’s favor on them for a long and happy marriage. I pray healing for all the hurt and broken places within them.
And it’s not just lip service when I say this. It’s not just Christian platitudes to make myself sound holy. It’s not just a public confession designed to make myself look good (but fails to match up with my private actions).
I am sincere.
And that surprised me. Because it makes realize that God has done a great work in my heart. Because God has taken the cracks of disappointment and filled the hurt with compassion. Because God has taken the broken spaces and filled them with forgiveness. Because God has taken the hurts and filled them with grace.
And now I am one revelation closer to being the new creature He calls me to be (2 Corinthians 5:17). And now I am one good decision closer to Him completing His purposes in me (Philippians 1:6). And now I am one choice closer to seeing all my former sins and ways be overwritten by His grace (Isaiah 1:18, Isaiah 43:19).
And why is it all important?
Because God says “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). If I can’t get my heart right, I can’t give away grace. I can’t free offer forgiveness. I can’t experience true joy or peace.
Because my heart is the core of who I am. It is the holding place for my faith. It is the starting place for my reactions. It is the deciding place for my relationships.
So if my heart isn’t right, my life isn’t right. And I want my life to be a beacon that draws people to Him.
So when I had the choice, I chose God’s way. I know I could have been happy and glad that someone who offended me was hurting. But that’s not love. That’s not forgiveness. That’s not grace. That’s just selfishness and self-righteousness in action. And that’s not how God calls us to live. So I was amazed at the good work God is completing in me, where grace supersedes grudges and forgiveness overwrites feelings.
So thank You loving Father for showing me that my faith is not in vain and my hope is not unfounded. Help me to continue to grow in every way possible. Help me to continue to be overcome by grace and guided by compassion – so I never put people after my comfort. Thank You for continuing to do a great work in my heart. I pray Paul’s prayer now that You continue it to completion. In Jesus’ all-mighty name. AMEN!
Marie Fremin, 9/18/16