A close friend told me recently that he had been praying for a few things on my behalf. One of them was that I would continually become open to God and searching for communion with the Spirit. I didn't know to be thankful or offended, so I thanked him and asked God why I was offended. I was reading a chapter John Eldredge's Waking the Dead last night, when I believe both prayers were answered. The passage took me back immediately when I read it. I am curious where it will take you. But I know where it took me: the broken place.
Ironically enough, I texted my wife earlier and told her about it, and then this morning, the Daily Reading on John's site was the same that had practically leapt out at me sitting at the kitchen table at midnight:
"There is a civil war waged between the new heart and the old nature. Romans 7-8 describes it quite well. Part of me doesn't want to love my neighbor—not when his son just backed his car into my Jeep and smashed it up. I want to take the little brat to court. Part of me knows that prayer is essential; another part of me would rather turn on the TV and check out. And that whole bit about long-suffering—no way. Part of me wants to just get drunk. And that is the part I must crucify daily, give no ground to, make no alliance with. It's not the true me (Rom. 7:22). It's my battle with the flesh. We all know that battle well. But that is not what I'm wanting to explore here.
No, there's something else we are describing when we say, "Well, part of me wants to and part of me doesn't." It's more than a figure of speech. We might not know it, but something really significant is being revealed in those remarks. There are these places that we cannot seem to get beyond. Everything is going along just fine, and then—boom. Something suddenly brings you to tears or makes you furious, depressed, or anxious, and you cannot say why. I'll tell you why.
We are not wholehearted."
Paul in the Roman letter paints a pretty accurate picture of how things tend to go when our hearts are characterized by any level of brokenness. In context, Eldredge refers to an intense personal conflict between the broken heart of a man and his ransomed soul. When you talk to a recovering addict or someone reft with memories of abuse or neglect, you will find that no level of Bible reading, study, prayer, or fellowship alone can repair a broken heart. Disagree?
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (Jn 10:10 NKJV).
Part of Satan's effectiveness depends on the illusion that we can essentially "fix" spiritual problems by our own human effort. No doubt, God needs cooperation and openness (Ps 32:3) in order to enact His will in your spirit, but reducing this submission to action and effort is seriously undermining His work.
Have you ever felt, regardless of your "good works" (Matthew 5:14-16) that your lamp was dim and ineffective? Paul recommends staying the course so that we may reap so long as we not lose what? Heart.
Our wholeness is of great interest to our Father. Our salvation is of highest priority to Him, but let's not forget that he cares about our continual healing. Show me a congregation of ineffective, bored Christians, and I'll show you a congregation that is broken hearted and hurting and in great need of the Healer.
Especially on the cusp of a New Year, I begin to feel anxious, abandoned, and alone. The unkept promises, to myself and others, overwhelm me completely at times. I begin to question everything:
Is this where I really want to be?
Who am I?
Why am I afraid to answer the phone sometimes?
Why do I feel this way about this particular person?
Why do I experience anxiety?
Who ever told me that I couldn't be or do this way?
A barrage of questioning--
Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that I have tried for so many years to handle it. Put up, shut up, and suck it up. Reign it in, brush it off. That's a very human thing to do, I think. My life is a little shanty off the beaten path, clinging to the side of a hill, and the last person I expect to visit--the last person I invite--is the Person who has the power and the patience to fill me up.
In 2014, I have made 1 resolution. Invite Him in. Take him to the very place where the hurt springs forth. Show him the leak. Open up to Him the infestation. Let Him see the open wound. And let him heal and restore.
C.S. Lewis once wrote in his Mere Christianity, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it ."
What God has planned for us would probably terrify us, but if we could catch a glimpse of the potential He has placed in our hearts for eternity, we would see that we are not redeemed for brokenness and hurt but to be rebuilt and reformed. Salvation is the beginning of a road of healing. Please don't let it stop there.
Invite Him in when you feel the fear, and remember who He is: the One who "heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds" (Ps 147:3).
It doesn't take an addiction or an abuse or an attack to cause a terminal broken heart, but perhaps you are addicted, abused, or assaulted. He knows, He always knows.
Will you open the door to Him in 2014, or will you stay in the broken place? (Luke 12:36)