“God, examine me and know my heart…see if there is any bad thing in me. Lead me on the road to everlasting life” Psalm 139: 23-24
That’s been my prayer to him every day for this this past year. But let me first give you a bit of my backstory: I grew up going to church, but I doubted God’s character (His love) which in turn made me clueless about my own identity in Him. When I re-dedicated my life to God in 2012 by getting baptized, I didn’t expect much of anything to come out of it other than my way of showing to God that I wanted to satisfy something off of a religious check-list.
When I emerged from those waters I wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt like something big was supposed to happen, so I felt disappointed when nothing did. On the other hand I didn’t feel quite the same. Something felt off. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but it was the start of an everlasting journey where I would become more and more like his son Jesus.
My seemingly simple act of surrender gave God the permission to start doing some major heart surgery in me. Not only has he been equipping my heart to break for what breaks His heart, it also had to love what God loves. It meant not only paying attention to the rejected, belittled, misjudged and neglected but having the heart of compassion for those whom reject, belittle, misjudge and neglect.
We can understand that when someone hurts us or people who we love, they are reacting out of their own hurt. As the saying goes “hurt people, hurt people”. But it’s not enough to understand that, it’s not even enough to forgive them for what they have done against us. No, as Christ followers we need to go above and beyond by choosing to love them. Why? Because God loves us even when we reject, belittle, misjudge and neglect him. For forgiveness without love is the breeding ground for bitterness and resentment.
This type of unconditional love is demonstrated so plainly in the book of Hosea. A prophet is instructed by God to marry a woman of low reputation who disrespects her husband by running away, prostituting herself to other men; and essentially rejecting his love for her. At the climax of the story, Hosea buys back his own wife who has been put on sale, even though she chose to live outside the confines of protection and love. In this same way, God relentlessly is ready to get us back even as we run away.
When we choose love, we choose to look like Jesus. He was perfect yet, was still betrayed by one of his own disciples. When you choose to allow you heart to look like his, we choose freedom. The enemy wants nothing more than to redirect our attention away from him and make the people around us “the enemy”. Ultimately stealing our joy, our peace, our time and our freedom.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places”- Ephesians 6:12
Allow God to start doing heart surgery on you too. Ask him to remove from you any traces of emotions and judgements that contradict the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) so that your heart can be made new and set free. It’s definitely not an overnight procedure, but it’s a process that leads into the walk with our Lord and Savior for “blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mathew 5:8).