Growing in Faith: That Which Defiles

Its Monday…I generally loathe Mondays, as much as the next person. But, today, this Monday, my heart is feeling more hopeful than it has in a long time. My heart is feeling some serious spiritual fulfillment that I don’t know I have ever felt. A friend of mine shared a link to a sermon from Dr. David Jeremiah, titled “The Futility of Life,” which I listened to this morning while I was getting ready for and driving into work. This sermon is so jam packed with lessons that I want to listen to it again and again. I had to stop and listen to a few parts a second time, as I was listening to it for the first time this morning; in order to get my focus back on digesting the lessons and off of the thoughts and feelings that many of these lessons were leading me to.

I could go on and on about the messages in this sermon, but I will share these two things, that are really sticking with me and putting fulfillment in my heart. The first is this, that life, and the wonder of our purpose here on earth, is far better lived with the Son. The second, which really made me feel as though something big was going on in my heart, is the reminder that God put a place in our hearts just for Him, a place that no other being or thing can fill. I didn’t find this surprising, but it was reassuring and gave me an overwhelming sense of joy. Joy in knowing that I have a place in my heart, reserved just for Him.

God didn’t stop there for me this morning, He took me further. I’ve been struggling with a few people in my life. To be more fair, I’ve been struggling with a few people’s words and actions, and how those words and actions have made me feel. I have felt resentment growing inside of me and I have been battling it, hard. This resentment does nothing fruitful and feels so heavy and awful. I finished reading through Matthew a couple of weeks ago and there is this one parable that has been on my mind. I’ve wanted my heart to be in a place to more fully live this parable, but it simply hasn’t been. I cannot say that I am fully there, none of us probably ever are. But, Dr. Jeremiah’s sermon is certainly helping my heart to open up more, to the true depths of this parable.

The parable is in Matthew 15, verses 17 and 18, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” What I understand from this parable, in relation to the struggles I am having right now, is that what others say and do is irrelevant in my relationship with God and in the way I live out my earthly life. What is relevant, however, is what comes out of my heart as a response to the things that others say and do to me.

Our relationship with God isn’t about other people’s doings, it is about our own, because we can only make decision from our own hearts. Furthermore, the decisions we make from our own hearts are far more likely to stand the test of time, if we build, and, when needed, rebuild, our relationship with God. If we just allow Him to fill that space in our hearts that is there, just for Him. It is then that we can make decisions from our own hearts that devoid the resentment that builds up in us.

Like I said, I am not fully there. I am not fully forgiving of the actions and words that have hurt me and the people that have said or done these things, but I am certainly a little closer and I will continue to try to seek this way in life. This is what He wants me to do; this is what He does for me. I wish I could say that I am fully there, that I have forgiven and forgotten, but since I can’t say that with honesty, I won’t make that claim.

I can tell you this, I am human and simply forgiving and forgetting after being hurt deeply, or time and time again, by any one person, is an extremely difficult feat. I’ve told myself over the past several weeks that I need to stop assuming what another person’s intentions are, their heart is not mine and I truly do not know what their intentions are. How wonderful would it be if I could just keep this truth tucked in my heart and never feel hurt by another person’s words or actions again? That would be glorious, but in our sinful nature, I don’t think any of us can.

I am, instead, trying this route. I am trying to step back and see things from a different perspective. A perspective that these words and actions that I feel hurt by, probably come from either a good place in another person’s heart. Or from the heart of a person who is deeply hurting and simply needs me to give them grace, as we are called by our Father to do. Again, as He does for us. As many people have done for me in the past several months and will hopefully continue to do for me, as I walk down the grievous road, of losing my first child, for the rest of my life.

As I reflect while writing this and feel the need to bring this to a close, I will concede with one last thought that has come to me. I haven’t prayed about this enough; I haven’t spoken with God about this enough. Prayer is one of the many beautiful things God gives us. It is an avenue and a tool in our relationship with Him that can never be worn down, and so we should pray infinitely. Whatever is in your heart, weighing you down, talk to Him about it.

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