Closing the Gap
In many ways there are still places in my life where there are disconnects. What I say I believe about God can look very different from what it looks like I believe about Him. For example, it’s easy to say that I believe the Lord is All-Sufficient, and then I turn around and become exasperated with my preschooler who had another accident. In the moment when I clean up another mess and wash bedding for the third time in the same week, do I respond in a way that displays I believe in His sufficiency in my moments of weakness?
I wonder how many of you would raise you hand if I ask about disconnects in your life. We all have them, though they may look different than what I just described. But how do we deal with them? Do we sweep them under the rug as no big deal, wallow in despair of ever changing, or do we run hard after the Lord?
What a Disconnect Reveals
We are all familiar with the verse, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person” (Matthew 15:18). Jesus made it very clear that our actions reveal what is truly in our heart. In the moment that I become exasperated with my son, I am not meditating on the Word and loving Jesus. I am loving myself and am angry that my desire and expectation for an easy morning was not met. My gaze is not on Jesus, but on myself.
My actions, my words, and my tone of voice in the moment reveal what I really believe about God. If I respond in any way but in agreement with His Word about who He is, I am missing out on something rich. I have an opportunity to experience Him as the God of peace and patience, who can help me be peace-filled and patient with my son through the power of the Holy Spirit. I also have an opportunity to put Jesus on display in that moment.
It can be terribly discouraging to recognize that our actions don’t match what we say we believe. So how do we move on toward maturity? How do we begin to move from becoming repeatedly exasperated, or anxious, or angry, or whatever your struggle is, to peace-filled? How do we become transformed?
I love Paul’s writings in the New Testament. He wrote with such confidence of his identity in Christ, and He believed the word of the Lord proves true (Psalm 18:30). One topic he spoke to many of his churches about several times was the power of God, in and toward believers.
Often times, it’s easy to feel powerless over a situation in our life. It’s true; we don’t have control over many things. But we are not powerless, especially when it comes to our behavior. In Christ, who lives in us, we have immeasurable power working in us (Eph 3:16). So in the moment when I walk in to find yet another accident to be cleaned, I have a choice. I can bulldoze forward in my angry and impatient flesh, or I can stop and, with a genuine heart, confess to the Lord that I am unable to respond in a right way without His help. I can ask the Holy Spirit to come help me to walk in a manner that pleases Him. By taking a piece of Scripture and praying it, I invite Him into my heart and the situation at hand. I align my heart with His, and, therefore, invite Him to help change my behavior. I choose to believe His Word, like Paul.
I experience God when I respond to challenging situations in this way. I begin to experience transformation through the Holy Spirit as He works His power in and for me. The gap between what I say I believe and how I actually live narrows. Eventually, there will be alignment.
The Lord tells us that if anyone asks anything in His name, He will do it, so that He can be glorified (John 14:13). The Lord delights to exercise His power in us, so that Jesus can be on display in our lives. But when I go my own way, I miss out on partnering with Jesus for His glory, and there remains a disconnect between my heart and mind.
Developing a Priceless Habit
I want to be a woman who can rightly respond in situations that really test my patience, kindness, or self-control. In addition to crying out to the Lord for help in a difficult moment (a powerful habit for sure), I have learned another that also helps prepare me for those moments.
Adoration has become a foundational practice in my life. For the last three years, I have made a habit of taking a verse or two from the Word, and speaking in back to the Lord throughout my day. I say a phrase that describes an attribute of the Lord highlighted in the verses, and adore Him. Here’s a an example,
“I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” Psalm 16:1
Lord, You are my Lord, and I truly have no good apart from you.
“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love.” Ephesians 3:16-17
Lord, the riches of your glory are immeasurable. There is so much of you to give, and you delight to give Yourself to me. I am in awe that You would choose to use your power to strengthen me. When it is you who gives me strength, there isn’t anything I can’t accomplish in the Spirit. My heart attitudes can be aligned to yours when you help me. There is no power stronger than yours. I worship you, Holy Spirit, who delights to stir up love in my heart for Jesus. When you do this, I know I’m loved by the One true and living God, and my faith is strengthened. I adore you, rich God, ever at work for my good and Your glory.
I do this first thing in the morning, with my kids over breakfast, when I’m washing dishes, when I have a hard moment with a child, when I’m discouraged, when I’m encouraged, or when I run (the possibilities are endless!). I sing it, I dance it, sometimes I shout it. The point is that I do it over and over and over again throughout my days. The more I adore Him, the more I really know Him. And it changes me. He has changed me.
So I invite you, awkward as it may feel at first, to join me. You might feel that your prayers hit the ceiling and that it’s not doing anything. You may not feel anything. But I assure you that your pursuit of the Lord, weak and awkward as it may be, is doing something. It moves the heart of God. Don’t let how you feel or don’t feel determine what your reality is. Your reality and mine is that we are delighted in by the Lord.
When we choose to worship the Lord with our heart, our mind, and our strength (because sometimes it takes great strength to just do it), He comes with His power and works in us and for us. Just breathing out a one word prayer is enough. It is through these little moments during our days that the gap slowly closes, and we become more like Jesus in our attitudes, our thoughts, and our actions. We begin to see Him rightly and we better understand who we are in Him. We begin to understand what He thinks and feels about us, and situations in our lives.
You may be surprised to look back and see how you aren’t the same woman you were a few months before.