A stone heart?

A stone heart?

In too deep
In too deep

 

When we come up against the hard or uncomfortable, when something shakes our world, when we feel lost and without direction, or nothing comes out as it should, when we’ve gotten in too deep, what will our heart trust? The God whose face we cannot see, or an illusion, the product of our desires and dreams?

 

After God freed the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery through astounding miracles, he led them through the floor of the Red Sea without a scrap of mud sticking to their sandals. Once they were safely on the other side, the waves closed in behind them, their enemies lost forever.

Only days later, when the people complained of thirst, God produced fresh water from a rock. When they grumbled from hunger, God rained the bread of angels on them.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before they traded a relationship with a God who lead them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, for a heart of stone.

They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert,
provoked God with their insistent demands.
He gave them exactly what they asked for—
but along with it they got an empty heart.

Ps 106:14-15 MSG

mountain top above clouds
mountain top above clouds

When Moses stayed too long on the mountain, meeting with God, the truth of their heart worship glared in the noonday sun.

They wanted a god they could keep a handle on, understand, and perhaps even control. They tossed all the loot the Egyptians had given them into the pot.

They cast in metal a bull calf at Horeb
and worshiped the statue they’d made.
They traded the Glory
for a cheap piece of sculpture—a grass-chewing bull!

Ps 106: 19-20 MSG

Then they partied like there was no tomorrow.

Tomorrow is always a problem, isn’t it? We can handle things on our own for a while, serve our handmade gods: work-hard, do-good, get-ahead, live-well, earn-respect, acquire-things, gain-money, nice-house, great-clothes, good-kids, peace-at-any-price, perfect-yard, attend-church, please-people, no feelings-no pain, self-medicate. . .
whatever we go to when our hearts are restless,

when today is not enough,

or the pain is too long.

stone
stone

 

A heart of stone.

empty
empty

 

 

An empty heart.

 

 

No fair, we say.

We didn’t drink miracle water from rocks.

No one gave us the bread of angels.

How long has it been since God showed up?

When I can’t see God, will I fill my heart with things I can see or do?

Or will I remember.

10 weeks in utero
10 weeks in utero

Remember that he knew me in my mother’s womb.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
Ps 139:13-14 MSG

He has plans for me, not to harm me, but to prosper and defend me.

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” GOD’s Decree.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 MSG

He has provided deliverance from whatever pursues me.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Ps 23:4 MSG

He leads me to the rock that is higher than I.

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I.

Ps 61:1-2 ESV

And he feeds my soul
O my soul, bless GOD,
don’t forget a single blessing!
He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
Ps 103:1-4 MSG

When we chose to remember, we chose to trust the God we cannot see.

Who holds us in the palm of his hand.

Protects us on the shadow of his wing.

Provides everything we really need.

And loves us.

We trust he loves us.

In our trust, our heart of stone is traded for a new heart. A heart that sees.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ez 36:26 NIV

You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.. . . Receive and experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, deep, deep within yourselves.
Phil 4: 19,23 MSG

Measuring stick or burning bush?

Chocolate Village by Youngest Daughter
Chocolate Village by Youngest Daughter
My senior year in college, my French teacher gave individual oral exams. I’d worked hard all four years, learned every vocabulary word, memorized French kings and battles, read the famous French authors and poets, and scored 99% on my written exam. But when she asked her last question, she frowned. In English, she said, “Though you know the language and speak it fairly well, you would never make it in Paris. So I cannot give you an ‘A’. You swallow your vowels.” When I asked her a question, she sat up in surprise and said, “Oh, you swallow your vowels in English as well.”

That was it? My chance to graduate with high honors gone because I swallowed my vowels? I have to admit, I hated her as I walked down the hall, feeling the same pain I felt the end of senior year in high school.

The first day of Chemistry class our teacher had announced no girls ever earned an ‘A’ in his class. So, I’d studied hours every day to prove him wrong. When I showed my straight ‘A’ report card to my father, he scowled and pointed to my Chemistry grade. “What’s this ‘A’ minus?”

I know some of you struggled to get through any class, and may feel like reaching through the Internet to slap me, but I’m only sharing this to show how I shaped my life around trying to be perfect, to do well, to shine — to win approval.

In some form, that need for approval has driven my life, sometimes pushing me to do more than I thought I could, and more often, to shrink back, fearing failure and rejection. I have measured my value in the eyes of others.

That is a very precarious way to live, because it is impossible to please everyone, and some people make demands I shouldn’t meet.

And because, I am learning, measuring myself by other’s yardsticks, seeking their approval, is an idol.

It’s not a shiny statue or marble pillar idol. It may even look like a good thing, most of the time.

After all, those I’ve served through the years have benefited from my efforts. To a large degree, western society, and even our churches, run on the energies of those working to earn their way.

But, it’s what Dee Brestin calls a heart idol. I can’t see it, only the results in my life. It’s usually something one has struggled with for years, and wondered why it keeps jumping back up.

“You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. . .” Ephesians 2:2 The Message

The good news is, after hearing the Voice of Love so many times through the years, I’m beginning to receive the message.

When I look around me for approval, I’m missing the Presence. Missing the only true source of value for my life. Missing the only true source of joy.

In “How the Hidden Dangers of Comparison are Killing Us … {and Our Daughters} : The Measuring Stick Principle”
Ann Voskamp says, “The world isn’t a forest of measuring sticks. The world is a forest of burning bushes. Everything isn’t a marker to make you feel behind or ahead; everything is a flame to make you see GOD is here.”

“Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good GOD is. Blessed are you who run to him. Worship God if you want the best: worship opens doors to all his goodness.” Psalm 34:8-9 The Message

I’ll take a burning bush over a yardstick, any day.

Do you have something you’ve tried to change or conquer that keeps coming back up?