Last Night… God!
From the moment my friends, Ann & Maddie, graciously invited me to be a part of this blog, I have felt an underlying anxiety about what to write. Putting words on virtual paper is not hard. Commanding my thoughts and ideas to focus, to discern what God wants me to write about, is where I struggle! I am old enough now, having lived over a half-century, that I have lots of experiences to draw from! But who really wants to read about the musings of an old lady reflecting on her younger self? Who really wants to walk down my memory lane and listen to my tales of mishaps, missed steps, mistakes and missed adventures. Who cares about our cross-country moves or my son’s cross-country teams? What relevance is our 12-year home-schooling journey now that both of my kiddos have graduated college? Who wants to read about my faith struggles in and out of every season of my seasoned life? The big question really is: will what flows out of my mind, onto this beautifully designed web page make any difference to anyone?
And in His most gracious way, these swirling thoughts were answered last night by God. He cares. He cares about every little detail of my life, past, present and future. He cares because He has been present in every moment. He reminded me of this during my Freedom Prayer session last night. (I will explain much more about Freedom Prayer in future posts.) But I must share what happened last night, even if the context of how it happened remains a bit of a mystery for now.
Last night, God sat down on the throne of my heart.
Huh? I know that’s a bold statement, but I promise it happened. God, specifically Jesus, at my invitation actually sat down on the throne of my heart. I saw and felt it, and the three other precious ladies in the room with me saw and felt it too. I wasn’t in a trance. It wasn’t a frenzied response to a hyped-up worship service. I was simply allowing God to direct me in prayer with the help of a few friends, and He, Jesus, took His rightful place as King of my heart.
What is most important to understand is that this only happened to me once before, about a year ago. I had just spent some time with another group of friends in a Freedom Prayer session, interceding for a young man that I had just met. It was a beautiful, Holy Spirit led prayer time. Immediately after that we went to our regularly scheduled, church, prayer meeting – and in the middle of that ordinary prayer service it happened… Jesus sat down on the throne of my heart! That is what I felt in my body and what I saw in my mind’s eye. I don’t even remember asking Him to do that. I just know that Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, had for that moment truly taken over my purely surrendered heart. I didn’t want to move; I was even afraid to exhale or shift my weight. I wanted to hold onto that feeling and fact as long as possible. It was the most holy moment I had ever experienced and at the same time I also knew it was temporary.
I knew all too well that Jesus only sometimes rules over my mind and will because I would prefer to be in charge. Really, He is the one to blame for this predicament. If He didn’t want me to drive my own life, why did He ever give me a mind that can examine and dissect situations? Why did He endow me with a love of color-coded excel spreadsheets, listing pros and cons, producing rational conclusions in every situation? He’s the one that made me logical therefore I must be perfectly capable of running my own life, right? And because of my God-given ability to make incredibly logical decisions, why wouldn’t God just rubber stamp all of my choices? Except, He knows better. In fact, He knows best. If I am solely responsible for all my mind ponders and all my will decides I become unbearably prideful.
My pride is the primary sin that keeps knocking Jesus off the throne of my heart. That is why I was trying to hold my breath as long as I could the very first time Jesus took total command of it over a year ago. My pride is so entrenched, so enmeshed in the DNA of my heart, that I knew it would kick Jesus out again and reseat me. No matter how much I wanted the peace and presence of Jesus to linger, I couldn’t stay in that surrendered place. Within a few days, the glory of that first moment faded and I reverted back to my usual M.O. of existence: Chris first, God second.
Admittedly, there are other things that take up residence in my heart and cause me to illuminate a “No Vacancy” sign whenever Jesus approaches. The obvious replacements are idols, and through my years I have tried on many different ones: home, family, physical appearance, even wisdom. I’m certain I will try on a few more – probably before the week ends! Thankfully, God is so gracious to reveal these to me and help me name and remove them. But last night, I realized the other supplanter of my King Jesus was a wounded heart. My wounded heart is a breeding ground for unforgiveness AND self-preservation. Jesus cannot take up residence in my heart when I have posted guards to keep that sign lit and prevent further hurts.
Last night, with the help of my friends, God revealed the place where pride first established its long-standing residence in my heart – in 4th grade! As I asked Jesus to process that memory with me, He gently showed me where He was. He revealed that He too was proud of what I had done, because He takes great delight in the fact that He made me clever. Pride became my problem when I accepted all the accolades without giving thanks to Jesus for the gift of wisdom and patience. Profuse praise from man, or in this case teacher, even if well-deserved can snare us all. After that confession, a calmness began to settle over me; pride was no longer in the way.
As I continued to ask Jesus to reveal what was in the way of our relationship, He reminded me of another childhood memory: one from 8th grade, where I was lied to, shamed and rejected. This wound cut very deep. While I would have sworn to you that neither of these incidents had any impact on my current life, Jesus knew better. As a result of these experiences, I had established some patterns of thinking and acting that shaped how I have interacted with others. God exposed how these patterns were driving my life today. I honestly cannot describe the feelings of freedom and peace that came when I released all of these burdens to God and truly forgave the ones who hurt me so long ago, and ones who have hurt me recently.
Forgiveness and truth were the keys that unlocked the door to my heart. I guess that is why God wanted me to write this story as my first blog post. Even if it doesn’t make a difference in anyone else’s life, I needed to thank Him for the difference He made in mine. As I threw away that neon sign and permanently dismissed the guards last night, Jesus came home to my heart. And this time, I didn’t have to hold my breath.