1999-10-28 - Dark Hearts
Jer 17:9 "The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (NAS)
We all have moments of time, or periods of time in our lives that we are not proud of. There are some thoughts and deeds that only God Himself will know until we die. There are others that only very close, trusted friends will know. This is actually one measure of the depth of a friendship. When someone will carry some fault or failing with them, for you, to their graves, it is a commentary on the strength of that relationship. God places special people in our lives, throughout our lives as we need them. Some of the deepest friendships come out of these dark, terrible valleys. In times of sorrow and loss, personal failure and grief, God Himself is always there. There are times when the pain is so deep it is hard to sense His presence, but He is there. He might be there in the presence of a friend or companion. But He has promised to never leave us. When your feelings are overshadowed, trust His word to be faithful and true.
Matt 19:6-9 They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?" 8 He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. (NAS)
So why do we get into these situations to begin with. I think the answer is the hardness of our hearts. We are capable of deceiving even ourselves. We toy with a stray thought or dwell on the negative in our lives to justify something we think would be better. God warns us to flee from these thoughts, with good reason. We are not nearly so strong as we think we are. The Lord knows our frames, that we make of the frail dust of the ground.
There are times we look back and see things in our lives that we now recognize as shallow or otherwise not Christ-like. God protects us against our hearts and our failings. There are other times when He allows us to walk right in, but He goes with us. He is always there to help pick up the pieces that we have willfully smashed against the wall. Our sin is always willful. There are innocent victims in some cases. But, when we walk away from God's instructions and warnings to us, we are deliberate in those actions.
Even after we have stubbornly done as we please and fallen, God uses those times to teach us. The most lasting lessons have a price associated with them - often a painful price. If we are willing to humbly ask for forgiveness with a broken heart, He stands ready to forgive and restore. This should also be a lesson for each of us. There are stigmas in our society. Divorce, abortion, infidelity and homosexuality often carry their own penalties along with the pain of rejection, often strongly within the Christian community. This is to our own shame as God's children. It is far too easy to forget our own limitations, and just how very much we have been forgiven ourselves. For example, I do not condone divorce. This is not to say that there are not times when someone's mental or physical health does not become paramount. I would never tell someone to stay in an abusive situation. And, it never means that the people involved don't deserve our concern, compassion, prayers and listening ears. It is too easy to forget that, there but for the grace and mercy of God go I.
Heb 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. (NAS)
Dear Lord - thank you for knowing our hearts completely and still loving us. Give us eyes to see the things You have to teach us even in our most painful disobedience. In grace and mercy, You stand ready to restore us from any situation to Your service. Give us humble hearts of compassion toward others knowing that our capacity for sin is no smaller than theirs. Amen.
Grace & Peace,