A question has begged for my attention this week. Despite the distraction of work and family and home, it kept resurfacing, tugging at my consciousness, as though God were whispering to my heart. His warm breath has reminded me to return to the thought when I have time, that it is important to wrestle with.
The question is this: Why do I pray so easily and frequently for God’s providential intervention to change the circumstances of life, and so infrequently, and with such difficulty, to change my heart?
At the start of his ministry, Jesus began his work with the attention-getting, authority-confirming miraculous. This paved the way for him to cast the net of saving words to the hearts of man. At times, he embraces the attention this causes, using it to create a captive audience. In other moments, he strictly charges the recipients of his miraculous grace to “tell no one.” Many times over, Jesus exerts his power over the physical world, and asked that it be kept quiet. Can it be that the reaction to the physical life-changing circumstances sometimes distracted the people from the real ministry Jesus came to live—the words casting out hope and calling lives molded to the will of his Father? He had heart work to do–lives to change from the inside, and if the primary focus was on the immediate and dramatic, the slower, simmering, forever soul-work could easily be ignored.
Can it be that this is true today for mankind…
So the question tugs again… Do I bow too often before God begging for intervention, and asking for changes in everything but my heart? If I become too distracted by looking for altered circumstances, I can miss the greater work to be done.
It’s so easy to think that it is the circumstances of life that need changing…job, family, church, community, health, relationship… and not my heart in the situations.
The real work to be done in my life is the heart work, the soul-wrenching work. I can get easily distracted by the dramatic changes in mine or others’ lives wrought by prayer, and the shifting circumstances of mine, and forget to look at the smaller, quieter, inside hollows of my heart that need attention.
These are the spaces that need to be more patient, accepting, forgiving, joyful, thoughtful, encouraging, selfless, willing—the spaces that need fear and jealousy, apathy and laziness, vanity and selfishness uprooted. These spaces are cleansed and tidied and changed when I open them up, allowing God to dwell there.
So this week, I will divert my attention from my circumstances and challenge myself to be honest in my conversations with God, and brave, and ask Him to continue the ministry of heart work He started.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and put a new and right spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.
O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. For thou hast no delight in sacrifice. Were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken spirit and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Mark 5:43 ,Mark 8:27, Matt. 9:18-31