Archive | June 2012

True beauty blends BEAUTIFULLY in friendship that lifts up our Lord

A gentle current of air made the warmth of the day pleasant to us as we sat outside our favorite little eatery with our usual choices of non-soul food. The purpose of our meeting seemed to bring a special joy to each of us that evening–perhaps because we had been apart for what seemed like just-a-little-too-long. The conversation was alive with new energy as recent events were reminisced and explained for the benefit of uninformed ears, but the element that held the most prominence for this simple interaction was its calming effect. We each knew that this was a context where we were invited to relax with the knowledge that our souls need not keep themselves wrapped up nearly so tightly as our common interactions seem to require for proper participation.

It was not that everything was so perfect or that there was nothing unpleasant or uneasy to share–in reality, there was a significant dose of imperfection, unpleasant and uneasy confessions and confrontations–but even in the presence of all these things we could be confident that the bond we shared would not be so quickly frayed by any of these. In fact, the nature of our connection is such that heart-disclosure can be real because our messes and our mutual Savior are what bring us together. We experience true friendship that can weather life’s unpredictable seasons and unceasing troubles because God has been at work in our hearts and we want to communicate with one another the strength we have found (and are, indeed, still finding) in offering our weakness to the One we call Father.

If you’re looking for a relationship like the three-way one I have described, don’t despair while you wait for God to provide you with a sister in Christ with whom you can actively cultivate each others’ heart. This jewel that presently enriches the lives of A, K and I has been such a recent gift that it all still feels new to us. We still pinch ourselves, telling each other that God is being good to us in ways that we never really expected He could. Our friend history didn’t seem to give the indication that such heart-related friends could exist for us. But what a joy it was when the blessing arrived almost on our doorsteps!

The hills that we had so long inhabited as sheep alone with our Shepherd now included two more precious sheep that seemed to have known our hearts even before our names. Each, in a unique way, was suddenly serving the others in a manner that had never been present in their buddy-ships of the past. Because of all that treasured time spent with the Savior before meeting the rest, we had gifts of ministry that had been well-developed. The time was just right to exercise them and the proof is that Christ has since used them again and again to awaken the most prominent wells of beauty within us.

I don’t know where you are in the friendship department, dear reader, but I pray you see that true friendship cannot be without beauty and the beauty that is most desirable in this area of our lives is not cultivated quickly or painlessly. This beauty is found at the feet of Jesus when His throne becomes the only place we can go, the only place we want to go. When we begin to make our daily abode there, our hearts begin to reflect the character of the One we put before everyone else. If you are in a season where God is preparing you to invest blessings and grace into someone else, trust His hand. The ministry He is conducting in you now is not worthless; it is just as valuable, if not more valuable, than the ministry that will pour forth from you later when His plan comes into view and you can enjoy exercising those gifts. Honey, it’s worth the wait!

Give God your heart, He’ll make it right!

Have you ever struggled with the issue of having an improper relationship with food? I have. Boy, is it unpleasant–except for those very brief, guiltless moments when you’re stuffing your face. I used to wonder, when I walked into my daily appointment with shame, if there was any real hope for me. Even if there was–which didn’t seem very likely–I wasn’t sure I wanted to partake of that hope. I didn’t just want to change the heart that drove me from the inside, I wanted to change the person who was reflected on the outside. And somehow I had the feeling that even if everything was “shaped up” on the inside, my outside would never be as mirror-worthy as I wanted it to be.

Because dreams of change seemed like the farthest thing from reality, I would wish that I had never been born with such inordinate cravings. I looked around at the plethora of divinely skinny girls–or at least ones who had no thought of  food except when it was convenient–and envy them everything that made them beautiful, acceptable and…well, perfect. It seemed they had everything that I did not. Their lives were somehow more in control because they did not battle such evils as the ones that raged inside me. They were the beauty without the beast of burden...while I was the no one or gross one with the beast of burden (a food addiction) and his super pretentious first cousin, Boundless Weight-Gain.

It was not fun. I would have traded my life, along with my body, with nearly anyone at that point. I was so disgusted with myself. My desire to start all over eclipsed my desire to be fixed. I didn’t think anything good could come out of the me that God and I were starting with. But God thought, “Wrong!” He had a plan and it didn’t look anything like my work-out plan or my latest strict-eating plan. He had a plan of mercy, a plan of hope, and (yes, to my surprise) a plan of beauty!

What did this plan look like? To put it simply, it was one of God’s heart intersecting mine. This may not sound lovely to you at first, but trust me, it is something you learn to recognize as glorious. In some way, my Heavenly Father’s plan reached into every one of the cracks and bruises of my love-needing heart. He transformed me on a level that I didn’t even know I reached. He started at the beginning–where my real problems were–rather than somewhere in the confusing middle where I usually formulated my hyper plans.

He began by telling me who I was. For the first time I understood that I, as a woman, start at my heart, not at my body. Even more than that, I start in the mind of God, not in the minds of people. I learned to want to know the truth about myself and how I was supposed to relate to God rather than stick to believing what I thought about myself and wanting to merely be what I fancied I was supposed to be. I found freedom. God’s love became a balm to my soul unlike anything I had ever found before. Food and it’s pleasures began to lose their hold on me. My heart was fixed on being filled up somewhere else, through a very different portal than I had been relying on before.

I began to grow strong on the inside–confident in such a deep way that I didn’t need to reach out for other things to subsidize my weak certainty about life. I could grow, finally knowing in what direction I should be leaning. My heart became undivided and steadfast in things that were not only very good, but the best. I gave God my heart so that it could be remade; so that all the desires that led me other places could be altered until they learned the direction that they were always meant to point me.

My heart became good within me; well. Now, the story is not over. I still have a ways to go, with much more to be done on my heart. But, I just want you to know, wherever you are on your food-overtaken-by-faith journey, that it’s wonderful to be here. You can get here too. Just do as the title of this post says: Give God your heart, and He’ll make it right. That’s not a promise I make on my own. It’s one I present to you from our generous Father. His Word communicates to us again and again, that whatever our problems are, they start with the heart and the heart is too deep and too wrong for us to try fixing on our own. But God, who made the heart, can make it new and beautiful–capable of loving Him in all ways–once again. Let that be your encouragement today. God wants to make your heart the place where His beauty gets to show itself off. Don’t delay the chance to make Him at home!