By Marcia Bohlke
Shereen asked me to share one or two ways God has awakened my faith in the past few years. Without getting into the details, I will share that in the past few years my heart has known trauma, betrayal, abuse, grief and loss. I tell you that because it is perhaps easy for you to see me as someone who doesn’t “get it.” We all tend to think everyone else “has it together” and that their life is easy, yes? So, I wanted to clear that up. [In case anyone should jump to the wrong conclusion, let me just say NONE of the betrayal and abuse had anything to do with my husband or my marriage. All is good there.]
I also want to note, that in the past few years, I have also experienced joy, love and the kindness offered by Christ and by others.
Isn’t that life? Often a mix of both joy and sorrow? Often, all at the same time?
With the background I just gave you, where life has been for me, I would like to share a couple of ways in which I have noticed my heart awakening.
John Eldredge said, “The Enemy’s real goal is our separation from God and our separation from our true selves.”
I think that is worth repeating . . .
The Enemy, Satan, knows what is already ours, so yes, he is at work to keep us separated from God, the love that is already ours in Christ Jesus. We are God’s Beloved. He calls us that. We are his Delight, but the enemy wants to keep us separated from those truths. Evil also wants to keep us separated from our true selves—our Hearts. I’ll go into that more in just a minute.
Consider Proverbs 4:23 in several different translations:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” NIV
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” NASB
“Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
that’s where life starts.” MSG
What does that verse say about our heart? It’s where life is.
Also consider John 10:10:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundant.” NASB
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” NIV
How, in the midst of life–whether in the seasons of goodness/joy or in the seasons of heartache–how do we live fully alive, from our heart? Our hearts are assaulted every day. How?
- The world, the flesh, the devil – at work all day, every day against us
- Messages we received in childhood (real or perceived) but we believe them nonetheless – the messages go deep into our young hearts and we believe them to be true
- Messages we didn’t receive in childhood, i.e.: did your dad delight in you? Did you hear that you are lovely? That you are beautiful . . . enough . . . that your presence matters . . . your opinions matter?
- Media: what the world tells us we need to look like, do, be
- The difficult things of life
- Shattered dreams
The list is a long one.
So how do we tend to our heart? How do we guard it? Here are a couple of thoughts:
We stop denying our heart . . . stop shutting it down. How?
- We live with hope and desire in Christ’s presence.
- We take those hopes, dreams and desires to Jesus and trust Him with outcomes.
- We go to Christ with our emotions – the pleasant and the unpleasant ones (raw and real, unedited), and allow Him to love us in them.
- We notice when we’re unkind to ourselves, when we go to self-condemnation, self-loathing instead of admitting we’re human and receiving the kindness of God, even in the midst of biffing it up. Did you know that God is always smiling at you? And it is such a good smile. It is an inviting smile. Even in my most despicable moments, He never diverts His eyes.
- We allow ourselves to dream.
- We have good self-care: body, mind, heart, soul.
- For many of us, we implement a Rule of Life–a rhythm, practices, disciplines.
- We do something fun!
My daughter Ali and I were discussing the word Awakening. We loved the word and it drew us to the word “Noticing.” We started “noticing.” Noticing what? We started looking for/searching for God Himself–in a sunset, in the path of a butterfly, in the gifts God places in our lives everyday.
In Matthew 13:45-46, Jesus mentions a “pearl of great price.” He compares the journey to heaven to a search for fine pearls conducted by a merchant, “who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
In Matthew 13:44 We read: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, the life.” Life is Jesus. How might I search for Him, notice Him as the Lost Treasure or Pearl of Great Value?
Friends, this is our “work” this side of heaven. We fight, and we fight hard to believe what is already true of us—what is already ours.
So, we notice. We watch. We search. How is God wooing you? How do we practice His presence? How might we live more aware/awakened to God, to others, and to our own hearts?
Take a minute to watch this video clip with me. A first “run though” for the movie The Greatest Showman gets captured on film. Here is a beautiful picture of a woman hiding behind a podium.
- Notice how she comes fully alive.
- Watch the impact one life has on another.
- Look what happens when she goes from fear to connecting with her heart.
Did you see it? She came alive. She embraces her heart and, as a result, her beauty was contagious.
Can you name and offer your beauty? The world so needs your beauty, and the goodness you offer/bring to a hurting world.
Would you pray with me?
Jesus, show us how to live from our truest self—Christ in us! To live more fully from our heart. Fully alive to you. Help us awaken to our beauty/our goodness . . . Our hurts and fears keep us hiding, even behind a music stand. Oh, may we say “no” to all that is keeping us from living as our truest self—from who You created us to be. Awaken our hearts. Amen