Ana started complaining last evening of her bottom hurting. We applied diaper rash cream before putting her to be. Only to be awakened around 1:00 am to her crying and again at 3:30. Finally, I took her into the bathroom and examined the "said area" to apply more cream in the correct region. As I did, I saw a "thorn-like" piece of plastic, stubbornly sticking into her flesh. I removed it, she cried a bit, and finally, she was relieved. The pain was gone. I laid her back in bed, she laid her head on her pillow, we prayed, and she drifted off to sleep.
A perfect illustration of what's been happening in this woman's heart.
We have had 3+ hard weeks with one of our children-very hard. It's consisted of a lot of slapping and yelling and just plain disobedience. Jim and I are tired. These behaviors, in addition to birthdays and other family happenings have not allowed Jim and I our normal "marriage rhythm". Normally, we connect at least once daily. Normally, we spend time intimate time together. Normally, we can laugh at each other's faults. But these last few weeks, it's been anything but "normal".
Personally, I've been praying, for what seems like forever, for God to change my heart; to make me quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. Yesterday at church, our preacher/teacher, Steve, delivered some hard words from the Lord to this struggling and sick heart. The Lord allowed me look at some very dark places in my heart, head-on. Is this what it feels like to be a coroner: needing to look at some gruesome things to get the job done. Fast forward to the early hours of this morning after being unable to sleep after being up with Ana the first time. I begged and pleaded with the Lord that He change my heart-that He makes me quick to listen, slow to speak, gentle and quiet, unshaken by behaviors of those around me. I even journaled it in black and white as a sign that I really want to change. After this prayer, Ana cried out again, in pain. It's when I removed the thorn.
As I came back downstairs, the Lord started speaking:
Do you want to be "right" or do you want to be "reconciled"? I knew He meant in all of these relationships that are just hard right now.
I chose Reconciled not knowing I too, was about to go under the hand of the great physician.
And he started the surgery, the painful surgery of examining a sick heart.
If you want to be reconciled, you have to take care of your own stuff. (Looking for the thorn in the dark places, not just applying the cream)
One by one, a loving Father, disciplining His child and a Skillful Physican with His life-giving hand, He laid out 11 things, some with sub-lists, of ways I damage relationships. (The 11 removed thorns are at the bottom should you care to examine them further. Warning: They're not pretty.)
Not before being a Christ-follower, not 5 years ago. Today.
There it was in black and white-the stuff that was clogging and jagging my heart-the darkness of my heart-laid out on the table, to be examined.
The beautiful Truth: The Physician who opens the heart, is the same one who seals it and heals it.
As I sat, heart laid bare, He whispered over me:
"Redeemed in a Heartbeat" and this name "Jesus"
Like waking from surgery, anesthesia wearing off slowly, my eyes started to focus. I looked back over this list and saw it covered by the blood of Jesus. I looked back over the last few hours of the night and saw how I went through heart surgery. I was surprised. The Lord is not surprised. The same one who does the surgery is the one who prepares the heart.
This surgery is only possible because there is ONE who went before me. A loving Father prepared the way for a humble Son, who willingly gave His blood for mine. Who lived a perfect life, so I don't have to. Who died my death, so I don't have to. Was resurrected, to give me LIFE.
The final sutures were put in place:
And I will lead the blind in a way they do not know, in paths they have not known, I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are things I do. I do not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16)
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
Many people ask me, "What in the world do you do when you're up so early. This is what I do a lot of times-I undergo surgery. I think the Lord knows this is one of the only times I'm still long enough for Him to do life-giving surgery.
1. slow to listen
2. quick to speak
3. quick to criticize, turn to self, have a pity-party with self-such a lonely affair
4. slow to love-take care of self first, instead of others
5. slow to appreciate-look to others' faults, refuse to see good
6. choose not to bridle your tongue-you move past the point of decision before stopping and making a plan
7. refuse gratitude for gifts you've been given and choose not to use them
8. desire to be alone instead of loving others and giving of self
9. Please look at your children as I look at them.
10. If you want Jim to stop looking to you for decision-making, stop trying to fix everything.
11. Women don't want to be around you because: you ACT perfect, you THINK perfect, and you DO perfect-only I am perfect.