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Heal all my disease...

I hear the baby stir, fuss slightly and I'm immediately awake.  Ready.  I firmly believe it's genuinely a gift God gives mothers for the sake of their children.  Aaron can sleep on top of the baby monitor and still not hear a late night cry.  But me?  I can tell the difference between an awake and hungry snort and a sleeping snore.  And when he cries out, I'm alert and ready.

I jumped straight up to make the bottle, noting the time on the stove clock and giving tired thanks that he had slept straight through until almost 5 a.m.  The bottle warm and ready, I head back to scoop him up to find he's slipped back into dreamland.  So I sneak out quietly, backtracking my steps to the kitchen and place the bottle up on the counter.

The clock blinks at me.  Teasing?  Beckoning.  It's 5 a.m. and I'm reminded of what I wrote just last night and my desperation to find God exactly where I am and how I believe He is exactly where I am and I feel the tug of His smile and of my own will to give in.

"We could meet now."

It's soft.  It's understanding if I worm my way back under the covers.  But the invitation, the time space, the glory... it's right there.  I relent.  "Yes, we could meet now."  I fix the coffee, light the candle, dig around in the dark for my journal.  I sit straight-backed in the uncomfortable dining room table chairs and read and write and hope.

And chills run trails up and down my arms and across my tight shoulders as my heart opens up to the truth poured in.  Even though the first thing I heard when I woke up was Travis and his mewling cries of a baby cutting teeth, instantly I had the words of a current favorite song in my mind, "I believe that You're my portion..." It has ran divots into my heart, filling up holes with truth that I do believe He is my healer and I do believe He is all I need.

Even when I think all I need is another iced coffee or a date night or a trip to Target by myself or a long bubble bath.  All of those are nice - long, quiet times included - but the all that I need, I always have.  In every space, in every early morning, in every late night feeding, in every day when my own personal needs keep getting shoved to later, later... He remains my portion.  He remains true to form.  He remains steady by me.

He anchors me strong.

I read Charles Spurgeon and jot down a quote and then something in me leans towards the bookcase and hands dig through my tried-and-true favorites and grasp an old love, Waking the Dead by John Eldredge. I lean back, sip Coconut Mocha coffee and float my eyes to the many bright-pink highlighted portions that I've read and re-read.  I read the line again and mark it in my journal,

"I daresay we've heard a bit about original sin, 
but not nearly enough about original glory; 
which comes before sin and is deeper to our nature."

And that's when my heart curves inside the hollow of my chest and presses tight against my ribs.  It starts doing a dance that is a little wild, a little crazy... free.  And I think, what if it's all true?  What if my heart that I'm consistently led to believe is so wicked and so bad - what if it really is new?  What if I am - all of me, heart included - what if I'm all redeemed?  All the way to my core, what if I really did get a new heart back in 1991 at church camp when I stood at the foot of a cross and declared I had to have Him.

And it's still early, still dark out, babies still resting and I wonder, what if I let go of the whole "My heart needs to be forgiven" bit?  Because isn't it true that my heart has been forgiven?  Isn't it true that I have been given a new heart?  And I'm not saying I don't continue to sin (ha) and need to go to Christ, acknowledging how wayward and impossible it is on my own to be all He has intended.  But that's different than going through my days with a heavy heart, feeling it's this hard, metastasized lump in my chest that continues to beat evil and fault, every day.  That may have been the heart I once had.  But it is not the heart I have.

We teach and almost flaunt that we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and we say we are forgiven, but we don't live forgiven.  We do live shame, though.  We live guilt.  We live trying harder.  We live enslaved to modern moralistic Christian culture that teaches us to cross our ankles and not wear our skirts too short and to not cause men to stumble because of our beauty.  We've bought into the lie that we are new, but we need to keep shrouded.  And I'm not advocating immodesty.  What goes on inwardly is what manifests outwardly.  But good Christian girls aren't quiet until spoken to and good Christian men are not simply "nice".  There has to be, has to be, more.

In 1 Samuel 25:37, it tells of Nabal and how, "... his heart died within him, and he became as stone."  And I think we think that way about our own selves.  Our own hearts.  That we're just black inside, even though we claim Christ's work on the cross as true, we still feel and live as though we have so far to go and so much more to be forgiven of and we walk crippled and we sing holding back and we laugh tight.  We want to believe the new is there, that the old has truly gone, and yet we can't seem to step confidently into the light.

Ezekiel 11:19 declares, "I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."  And the Lord says that we then get to be His people.  And He will be our God.  (Ezekiel 36:20b)  And we quote it and we jot it down and we highlight it, but we don't stand in it.  We don't live like we're revealed and alive.

What would happen if I could believe that my heart was a new one?  That all the old had really passed away and been crucified with my Lord on that hill and on that cross.  That His stripes paid my ransom. That there is no longer a bounty out on my head.  That I don't have to run anymore or prove I'm worthy or earn His love or even live according to modern church good-girl teaching?  I can't believe both.  Try to live both.

We can't believe that our hearts are black with sin with one hand and then on the other preach that God has washed us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18) and given life abundantly (John 10:10).  Has He given us new life or hasn't He?  Has He given you and me a new heart or are we still all battered and scarred and requiring healing?  Am I really His or am I still lost in sin?  Pick a shoreline.  We can't wade, can't dog-paddle, forever.

Wouldn't believing this set me free from all the striving and all the teeth-clenching and all the stacked-up guilt that I feel when I can't juggle babies and commitments and hospitality and choir practice and a small business and simultaneously keep dust bunnies from creeping under the dining room table and managing to cook without too many preservatives?  What if all I really focused on was how good and wild and true and freaking beautiful my brand new heart is?

What if that was the highlight and not my to-do list or my wish-list or my "this is what I used to do" in the past list?  What if I let my heart beat loud and vulnerable, embracing and believing transformation came when the Holy Spirit entered in and not walk around, living like I'm waiting for that day of saving to come?  We say we are redeemed.  But we don't live restored.

If I have been crucified with Christ, if I no longer live, but it is Him that dwells inside of me... how am I still black as coal, again?  Dark and light can have no community together (2 Corinthians 6:14) and God cannot be where sin is (Psalm 5:4).  So, basically, if I'm believing that I am still all tattered and torn, that is not God's transforming message of salvation and redemption I am living out.  It is me biting down on the bitter truth that even with a Savior I'm still screwed up and in need of more.  More habits.  More emotional flogging.  

Pretty sure that's not God's message.  At all.  As Eldredge sums up so succinctly, "The story of your life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it."  That wily snake in the grass.  He keeps on trying so hard.  He hands us the you-have-to-do-better lie and it looks shiny and it looks healthy and it looks churchy and good.  And it's poison and just one glance that direction and it seeps in.  But the real truth?

That hissing?  He has to be quiet.  Jesus stands hard on his small head.  He's done.

Without Christ my heart is black as night.  But with Christ - because of Christ - it is no longer nowhere near that.  When I told my three-year-old that Jesus lights us up inside just like the sun lights the day and just like the moon lights the night... that's what I need to live in.  Not anything else.  It's bright and wild and Spring-time strong in this heart.  Not because of what I do or don't do, but only because of who Christ is and because I am now His temple (I Corinthians 6:19).  And if I am a temple, then He has done a great, unchanging work to make me holy and good enough for Him. 

I stand in that.  I hope you do, too.

"You've been far more than forgiven.
God has removed your heart of stone.
You've been delivered of what held 
you back from what you were meant to be.
You've been rescued from the part 
of you that sabotages even your best 
intentions.  Your heart has been
circumcised to God
Your heart has been set free."
~  J o h n   E l d r e d g e ,   W a k i n g   t h e   D e a d 



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