Psalm 27:4 —One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 27:8 —You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.
Ezekiel 34:26 —And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing.
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.
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. It is call us into a Holy Discomfort from what is far, towards His own Heart.
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 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. He left His Father’s side and came to be near to us.
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.
I noticed that discomfort was really a way of noting difficulty. It can be the way our hearts and minds measure resistance or a reaction to a circumstance. I looked for biblical references and it was really about pain. In our hearts and lives we move towards or away from the the fear or potential of emotional, mental or physical pain in our choices, and in small and large decisions. As mortals we also move along lines of least resistance towards comfort. But God’s servants walk courageously towards many challenges and trials. Jesus Christ is the Suffering Servant.
Here are some examples from Isaiah:
Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52). God’s own Son stepped away from his eternal glory to 1) live a perfectly righteous life in human form so that he could gift that righteousness to wicked sinners, and 2) take the sins of those wicked men upon himself and allow God’s wrath to crush him instead of them. Christ suffered more intensely than any person ever has or ever will—and he did all of this according to the will of his Father (Isaiah 53:10). God called Jesus to the ultimate discomfort so that we, the undeserving recipients of his mercy, could escape eternal discomfort.
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 IN Eternal Purpose
So we are no longer subject to the experience of 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 Lordbecause our heart perspective shifts.
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?
When we See Jesus in the midst of all that we encounter, especially from “the difficult”- we honor His Life and His Sacrifice for the sins of humanity that we could even have known His Grace and Mercy. The heirs of God- His sons and daughters must suffer with Christ in their “sonship”, meaning to bear the pains of conflict against sin so that they can partake in the inheritance which is His Eternal Kingdom.