Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Calluses of the Heart
I often ponder the question, "How would my life look different if I was sensitive to everything God wanted to do in me and through me?" I find that God does some of the most profound things in my life with such delicate and gentle promptings that I almost missed it. It causes me to shudder to think the number of times when I go through my day and never sense the gentle touch and leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. Or the sheer number of days that I don't want to be bothered because I am so focused on doing important things. Many times the things of God seem to come as interruptions even, only to see what incredible beauty I almost missed.
It is a callused heart that forever resists and doesn't want to obey or even feel the gentle promptings of the Lord. I forever remember the story from my brother Brian's life that taught all who would hear that sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is a matter of life and death, physically and spiritually. He had been praying for a time that the Lord would remove the flesh that hinders him sensing the prompting of the Holy Spirit in his life. He found himself at a party with an audience telling the tales of a recent great hunt. It was the best part of the story when an odd thought popped into his head, "Where is Bryson." He knew it was the Lord, but he sure hated to miss delivering the most impressive part of the story. He decided to obey even though his wife was watching their son. Well Bryson had jumped into the swimming pool without anyone seeing it happen and was on the bottom of the pool looking up for help. Bryan saw him and jumped in saving his life. He was holding his breath and no harm done other than the addition of a few more grey hairs on Brian's head.
God was good and gracious that day to Brian and our entire family, but what incredible truths poured out of that encounter with God. The Holy Spirit is God and is not to be put off, told to "Check back with me later.", or even questioned, "Are you sure Lord." To obey the Holy Spirit's prompting is to allow God to reign as Lord of our lives and to do anything else is disobedience. It also produces the most incredible view on life as you literally see the miraculous works of God before your eyes on a regular basis.
I recently had an encounter with the Lord that left me humbled by the goodness of God and the blinding hardness of my heart. I continue to trust in my eyes more than I do in the Lord. I think I see things so clearly only to be so very wrong. Yet, again and again, I trust my eyes, my understanding, and my wisdom, instead of just trusting in the sufficiency of Christ. Oh the calluses on this heart of mine.
I meet with a group of guys at Whataburger on Thursday mornings. We have developed a whole group of friends that we call our Whataburger buddies. On this occasion it was Edna and Tiffany who were showing up for their shift that would start at 6am. Our group has prayed for each of these ladies over a dozen times when they would come by with our food or coffee. I caught Tiffany in the parking lot finishing her cigarette just before going in. I thought it might be a chance to encourage her to quit smoking by using the book of psalms. Every time you have an urge to smoke, open up your bible and read whatever psalm you turn to. Let your craving for nicotine fuel a craving for the Lord, and watch nicotine's hold diminish and God's hold on your life explode. I also had the opportunity to ask her what she needed prayer for in addition to help quitting smoking. She gave her usual vague answer about prayer for friends and family. I then asked her a question that popped into my mind. It cut through all of the smoke and vague generalities to the heart of the issue she had been struggling with so much that it startled her. Edna walked up at that time and I prayed for both of them in the parking lot.
As we entered the restaurant Tiffany was still looking at me and asking how I could know exactly what she was dealing with. All I could tell her was that, "God knows what her struggles are and has the answers if she would just trust in Him." About that time I see a "big 'ol boy" sitting with a rather scowl look on his face as he sat waiting for his order. A gentle thought brushed past me that prompted me to pray for him. Like I had done so many times before. But this guy was a big dude and didn't look all that happy. I hung around the counter and drinks as I tried to convince God not to have me get totally shot down in front of my friends and whataburger buddies that I had just so impressed with my godliness. I reasoned I was just being carried away with the moment, that God had no intention of blessing that big guy. I thought it would just make him uncomfortable, and me along with him.
Finally, I had to step out in obedience, even if I was suddenly a big chicken. I said, "Hi!" and introduced myself and asked him how he was doing. Trying to figure out how to do this prayer thing that had suddenly gotten very hard to do. That is when he asked me if we came here regularly and what church we were with. He shared how he grew up in a small church, but was feeling lost in the very large church he was attending since coming to the area. I then asked him the question that had kicked me out of my comfort zone in the first place. "Well is there any way that we can pray for you this morning?" His response, "Yeah, actually I could really use your prayers this morning!" Standing where you would place your order, My friend Tyson and I prayed for our new friend Philip as God continued to soften this calloused heart.
An incredible update to this whole story. It was in May when God showed Tiffany that He knew exactly what she was dealing with. Last Thursday when she came over to our table I asked her how we could pray for her. She didn't give the simple friends and family answer, but rather hung in thought as she struggled to answer the question. She finally said, "Man, that is a tough question." I don't know why I asked her it, but I just felt a nudge or quirky idea pop in my head. I then asked her," If you were at the end of your life and stood before God and He asked you why He should let you into heaven, what would you tell Him?" "Oh man that's even harder to answer! I guess I give my life to Him and ask Him for the forgiveness of my sins" A great conversation ensued in just how to do that now and not wait til the end of her life. She prayed to receive Christ as her Lord and Savior standing at the end of our table.
What joy God has brought to her life and each of ours when we trust and obey!
Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us. For we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.
"Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns, circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts,
My prayer: "Dear Father, forgive me for being so slow of heart to trust you and so hard of heart to think I always know better than you. Train my heart to be sensitive to your still, calm, gentle voice, and give me the grace to have the faith to trust in you above all things. Amen!
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