“Softening, We Become His Own”, from L.Willows (a New Heart, Soft Love, Spirit of God)

I wanted to share this post from 2019 with you. We have all been through so much since then. Imagine how many chances our hearts have had to soften, to deepen, even to break in the experiences of our times. LW

Recently I encountered an old friend. In a conversation with her, she asked how I was now, as so much time had passed. “Softer, I said. “I am softer with time, after many years and experiences. Life had made my heart softer where before it had many edges and ridges. Now it sinks here and there.” I tried to describe to her what is indescribable.

Afterward, I felt thankful and filled with memories. I knew that she could not really understand. We had been separated by such distance, like the many mountains that I have traveled through in my journeys.

Life softens. God knows. He walks beside us.

Sometimes it takes time and ups and downs to soften our hearts. Only God sees our lives and our hearts in truth. Surely, He had known each detail along the way. He has been with us, beside us for every step.

What is a soft heart and what does that mean? Well, soft is new. We are born with hearts that need to become new. We need a second birth. We feel alone until we find it. We sense vulnerability and powerlessness until we find our true heart in and with God.

When I thought that I was alone, I tried harder, I often created much effort believing that I needed to do things on my own. I thought that I needed to form strengthening skills to survive. We all develop heart-survival skills because we forget that God is with us on the journey. He is our true and only strength in life’s journey. Everything else falls away or may fail. Real Strength was not even about me!

Real strength is about God, not us.

Psalm 76:26 –“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Philippians 4:13 -“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

As we find Him, we are given a new Heart.

Ezekiel 26:36 –“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

2 Corinthian 5:17 –“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Soft is the Spirit of Christ’s Love in our hearts.

When the new forms in us, and we belong to Christ we, are saved by faith. The process of becoming like Him is ongoing, it is Sanctification. That new heart grows. It becomes our new inner Influencer!

We and our lives are never the same again. The ridges become containers that are filled with the pourings of God’s blessings, with His Spirit – like waters that fill us and our hearts with newness. Imagine a thirsty valley in the springtime receiving the rains of God’s love season after season. We Soften, we are fed and the fruit of His Spirit grows in us.

Galatians 5:22-23 –“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

When we become new, we live as His Own. We can live with hearts softly, lovingly. I am not there, I pray that I live a life that gives rich evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. I have a long way to go still. But the parts that ‘sink here and there’ are soft enough to be filled by God’s Spirit. I am so grateful for His Goodness, and for so many Blessings – surely there are challenges but the Lord is at my side. (and with you) This is the only journey that I would ever want to be on.

© 2019 Linda Willows

Pray Soft

I pray that we soften to the miracle of knowing God’s Love,
to the reunion of walking each hour of the day in His Mercy.

I pray soft listening for our hearts, that we hear His Voice
amidst the challenges of our lives; from the calls that we are each given.

I pray soft walking in this world as we journey with one another.
Let us find each other in His Arms as One.

I pray for soft forgiveness in our relationships near and far; help us
all to remember how much we have been forgiven, and open our hearts.

I pray soft tenderness so that we open doors for others; let us be generous
and gracious givers in this wondrous life that we have –

for the Lord God has been so good and kind to each of us.

In Jesus Name,
Amen

“Kingdom Discomfort: Joy of Stretching our Hearts towards God”, by L.Willows (Drawn to God, Heart Perspective)

The speaker asked a challenging question – “How is God calling you into discomfort?” My heart was stirred. The class was a deep dive into missions and evangelism. I was filled with awe as I listened to stories of courageous Missionaries who left the comfort of home, nation and all semblance of safety to serve the cause of bringing the gospel to the unreached in the farthest parts of the world. Their faith and sacrifice was daunting. In contrast, anything that I had ever done that seemed difficult was pale by comparison.

Yet God sees into us each uniquely and He knows our hearts. His love for us is enduring. It overreaches and envelopes like a Father that hold all beloveds.

He draws us Near to that which will stretch us toward Himself and His purposes.

In the former case it was towards His mission for world evangelism to all nations. (Matthew 28:19-20) Now, I was seeing that it applied to us all, to every morning when we wake up and to the near and to the far.

I realize that the question “How is God calling you into discomfort” was a biblically based question. Our Lord Jesus was called into the greatest of discomforts when He answered the call to come into this world and be born as a mortal, the son of God. He took on all of the sufferings of this world and more- all of our sin, of the world’s sin and suffered on our behalf at the cross so that we could receive Grace and Redemption.

Hebrews 12:12 –-looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Delivered Discomfort

I noticed that discomfort was really a way of noting difficulty. Then I looked for biblical references and it was really about pain. That is our key. In our hearts and lives we move towards or away from pain in our choices, and in small and large decisions. Hopefully we take everything to prayer and ask for God’s will. But this appears to be is our motive for resisting difficulty. As mortals we resist pain and difficulty and also move along lines of least resistance. We resist what we sense may lead to any form of pain and discomfort physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

But that is not the way of the Christian heart that has been reborn in Christ and received the gift of salvation and grace.

In Scripture, we can note that suffering produces intimacy with God. It is not in conflict with goodness, service or love.

Job 42:5 —I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.

and it seasons and prepares our hearts so that we are merciful and able to comfort others-

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 —Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Pondering this the next morning for both long term and near meaning, I listened to a sermon of the nature of God’s merciful heart. It caused a river of joyful tears. We forget how loving and tender God is and has been to us. Well, I do. It caused me to reflect with gratitude for His goodness over time. Often we look at the valleys. Mortal hearts seem to have memory banks that store what we feel “owed”, meaning the experiences that caused heart wounding or the valleys of this life rather than the high points or the “pluses” — the peaks. The truth is our hearts have been delivered by Christ.

A Kingdom View

Do we estimate that God did not value the valleys as much as (what we name) the peaks? Perhaps it is all good. The journey is the path itself from God’s point of view. He is viewing our journey from above and it looks straight and direct or not rather than up and down!

So when God calls us into The Difficult, which to us may seem like a part of the path that looks unfamiliar, hard, in the valley, dangerously new, painfully challenging, confronting old ideas and positions or just not comfortable (or comforting) –then we may need to remind ourselves that He may be gently asking if we would like to step out with Him in His Glory.

John 17:22 —And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one.

That means that you are invited to live walking with your heart intimately bound with the Lord Jesus. His glory, the gift purchased through his blood is with you. His splendor, light and blessings are with you as your journey and you walk with His protection. His glory delivers us from all challenges and leads us into His Peace wherever we are.

Lifted to God as His, Living His Purpose

So we are no longer subject to the valley and the peak because we navigate by Kingdom means. Christ is where we set our gaze. Though the worldly journey develops a willingness to encounter The Difficult- the path itself is lifted to the arms of the Lord.

Romans 8:17 —and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

As heirs, we have the question- how can we serve/ live/ answer the call to stretch our hearts toward God? Is that toward something difficult and uncomfortable? Why? What does that look like in the near environment and circumstance of today? What does that look like in the far? How can this heart view be lifted up so that it becomes a Kingdom View rather than a valley/peak view? Have you ever praised God in the midst of difficulty and discomfort? What would that look like? What were the results?

© 2021 Linda Willows

“For the Sake of Love” Scriptures on Love, Prayer from L.Willows (Grace, Loving One Another, God’s Spirit)

Walking in Love is walking with The Holy Beloved.  We have been given a decree to love one another as we have been loved (John 15:12).  When we live and step forward for the sake of love it means that we make a promise to live with hearts that are devoted, forsaken – given up in surrender to the will of God with a gaze set beyond what the mortal eyes can see.

When our own hearts are “forsaken”, it means that we renounce and leave behind whatever we cling to that would separate us from the Love of God. We place whatever must “die to self” (Galations 2:20) with gladness and pray that sacrifice is granted. We cannot move forward while grasping to what is behind us.

When we do something for the “sake” of another means for the benefit of another or on the account of another. In the Bible, the words “for Jesus sake”, refer to the truth that all is done on the merit of Jesus, that we have none of our own.

In the same way, when we long to move forward in Love and walk in The Love of God we need to renew our Hearts. Yet we cannot “see our own hearts” by our own ability. This is one of our greatest obstacles to walking forward. We need the Power of The Holy Spirit that enables the wisdom of God to help us. We ask for revelation in prayer and seek redemption so that we can walk more closely with the Lord. David’s prayer in Psalm 139:23 (Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my concerns) is a perfect example of calling to God for the ability to know one’s, own heart.

It takes courage to encounter this kind of bold truth. Yet how can we live with anything less than truth? We pray for the strength and courage to rise above our dependency on false strength, the kind that pulls us back into a sense of power over circumstances and our own abilities rather than being true warriors of The Spirit, ones that serve God. (Romans 8:5, John 3:30, Deut. 6.5) This servitude is one that lives with hearts “forsaken” to the Truth.

because only The Truth will ever set us Free.

John 8:31-32
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Scripture on Loves’ Decree

John 17:21
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Leviticus 19:18,34
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD…

Matthew 5:44
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

John 15:17
This is My command to you: Love one another.

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another.

Romans 13:8
Be indebted to no one, except to one another in love, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law.

Romans 13:10
Love does no wrong to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.

Galatians 5:14
The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Ephesians 5:2
and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.

1 Thessalonians 4:9
Now about brotherly love, you do not need anyone to write to you, because you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.

Hebrews 13:1
Continue in brotherly love.

1 Peter 1:22
Since you have purified your souls by obedience to the truth so that you have a genuine love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from a pure heart.

for The Sake of Jesus Christ

Holy Father,
I run to you in worship today with awe.
My heart offers praise that lifts all to the Heavens that You alone have made.
I cannot fathom the beauty of the worlds that Your eyes can see
or the vastness of life that Your heart beholds.
I am small and here- and Father, You from the Throne of All.
Your Love is planted within my own heart and promised from the beginning.

You are my Redeemer, the Faithful One, our Healer, the Restorer of our Souls.
Your Love is more powerful than all of the tides of the oceans at sea.
It weathers all of the storms of life.
It is my rock and my fortress. You sustain me through all seasons.
I pray that you hold my heart, all hearts with protection against the forces of this world.
Father, Lord keep us safe with you in every hour.

Give us pure hearts, Lord.
I pray that Your Spirit reveal new ways that I need to grow; help us all to see.
Show me the impurities of my heart in this hour, keep us apart from what binds us to sin.
Help me in my need to repent and surrender, let us find humility as we bend to You.
To return with gladness and rejoicing to your lap of Love.
Renew my faith and give me the perseverance to walk with courage and leave behind all that would keeps me apart from You.

You are our watchtower, our protection night and day.
Your strength upholds us, the righteousness of Your heart gives direction and boldness to ours. Your Spirit indwells and prompts as our cause.
Lord, we stand, walk and move only because of You.

Fasten our Hearts to Yours.
We walk forward with You and for the sake of You.
Our hearts beat and breathe because You. You have given us first breath.
I praise and breathe gratitude from all that I am.
For the sake of Christ Jesus.
Let Love Be. Let it walk forward in me.

In the Name of Jesus

Amen