Archive for June 1st, 2009

In this series, “The Heart of a Worshipper” (HWS) I’ve written about the need for our hearts to be hungry for God. The hungry heart gives birth to the pursuing heart, causing us to pursue God more diligently. Pursuing God is the first step toward becoming changed people. We then looked at the transparent or unveiled heart. When we pursue God whole heartedly, we open our heart to Him and others. That unveiled heart leads to a vulnerable heart, which is the topic of today’s blog.

A Transparent Heart is…A Vulnerable Heart (Part 1)

In the last blog in this series, I wrote:

“A transparent heart…One that allows the Light of Life (Jesus) to shine through it so that He can reveal to us what is hidden in its deepest, darkest corners.”

That’s vulnerability! Perhaps as you read that statement your reaction was similar to mine when I wrote it…”OK, NOW I’m scared.” Becoming that vulnerable almost evokes a “fight or flight” response. I want to go on the offensive or run away (and sometimes I can’t decide which). But why am I so afraid?

Why Am I Afraid?
I’m afraid because I know there are things hidden in my heart that I’m ashamed for my Lord to see. I must be forgetting 1 Chronicles 28:9b which says:

“for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.”
          1 Chronicles 28:9b

Or perhaps I’m overlooking Psalm 139 which beautifully describes how intimately the Lord knows us:

1      O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
2      You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3      You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4      Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
13     For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
15     My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
      When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16     your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me
      were written in your book before one of them came to be.
               Psalm 139: 1-4, 13, 15-16

One of the exciting things about being in Christ is that He already knows our thoughts (even the very worst ones), and He STILL loves us! It’s not like He died for our sins, and then really realized what they were! The scripture that affected me the most before coming to Christ was Romans 5:8:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
          Romans 5:8

He knew I was a sinner when He died for me and He still did it. He didn’t wait for me to clean up my act before He demonstrated that He loved me.

I’m afraid because of the punishment I imagine He might think is appropriate. Hebrews 12 deals with this:

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons…Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
          Hebrews 12:6-12

When I keep my eye on the prize – being conformed to the image of Christ, discipline has a sweet aftertaste to it that balances the bitter experience. Divine discipline produces the Christ-like qualities that I so desire. But if I don’t allow Christ to discipline me (by shielding my heart from Him), I remain unruly in my thoughts and deeds. (Please don’t interpret this to mean that I control the Lord’s disciplining of me. I do not. God can choose to discipline me whenever and wherever He wants. Keeping a vulnerable heart toward Him, however, invites His discipline of me.)

Even still, I might be afraid sometimes of how He might discipline me. In those times, I remind myself of God’s goodness. Lamentations 3 encourages me that “The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him;” (v. 25). Psalm 145:9 reminds me that “The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all he has made.”

It is healthy and appropriate to fear the Lord. It is also healthy and appropriate to understand that our God is a loving and compassionate God. If your fear of the Lord outweighs your understanding of His great love for you, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the merciful and compassionate God that can be found in the pages of your Bible. Start by doing a search on the words mercy and compassion.

Finally, I’m afraid because when I let down the guard that is around my heart, I give another the power to hurt me. While this is true, the opposite is also true…when I let down the guard that is around my heart, I give another the power to bring healing. Christ cannot bring healing until you allow Him to open the wounds of your heart. Some of the deep, dark secrets in our hearts stem from sins that have been committed against us. Sometimes those sins are root causes that have led to our own sins; often they are painful experiences or memories that we’ve allowed to change our behavior…and usually that change isn’t in the direction of Christ-likeness.

When I was 14, we moved away from the city we had lived in for as long as I could remember. How painful it had been to leave friends! With all the emotional passion of a young teenage girl, I vowed never to make close friends again because it hurt too much to lose them. And so I lived that way through high school, college and my first few years out of college. “Why should I make friends?” I would ask. “I’m just going to move away soon and I’ll never see these people again.” I refused to become vulnerable because I didn’t want to be hurt again. It wasn’t until I found Christ and became surrounded by loving men and women of God that I began to realize the foolishness of my approach to living without pain.

At 22 I was a very selfish, uncaring, uncompassionate woman of God. At 53, I’m a little less selfish and a little more caring and compassionate…but I still have a long way to go. Because the Christian walk is one of constant growth (change) if we stay vulnerable to the Spirit of God as He transforms us (changes us) into the image of Christ.

More on the vulnerable heart tomorrow!

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