{Spiritual} Heart Surgery

(I have missed blogging! We bought our first home and it has been a busy month of packing, moving and unpacking! But we’re all settled now and I’m hoping to post on a regular basis again!)

I came to the realization this morning that I’ve spent the better part of the last 20 years focusing on the exterior… making sure I have everything together on the outside.

But as God told Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (NIV). Here’s that same verse in The Message: “God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

In case you forgot, I love definitions! I’ll just share a couple with you today… The Hebrew word for “look” is ra’ah, meaning: to see, perceive, learn about, observe, watch, look upon, find out, consider, give attention to, discern, distinguish, gaze at. The Hebrew word for “heart” is lebab, which means: inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding, inner part.

God gives attention to your inner man. He perceives your mind. He observes your will. He looks upon your heart. He gazes at your soul. He considers your understanding. He learns about your inner part.

God isn’t concerned with what people see – He’s concerned with what they can’t see.

Which leaves me at a fork in the road – will I live to please God, or will I live to please others? Will I focus on what men and women see (the perishable), or will I focus on what my Heavenly Father sees (the imperishable)?

I had an ugly “mom moment” with one of my kids today that sparked all of this. Instead of greeting them with a “Good Morning”, I overreacted at something trivial, resulting in some unnecessary tears on my child’s part. (Unnecessary because I overreacted.) I spent the next 30 minutes or so “getting ready” for my morning. As I straightened my hair, I was pretty disgusted by the condition of my heart. Here I was making sure my hair was presentable, making sure I had it all together on the outside… Meanwhile God has pulling back another layer of my heart, exposing something new He’d like to work on with me…

As I quickly ate some yogurt and granola before heading out the door, I looked up a passage God had put on my heart while I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror…

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” – Matthew 23:25-28 (NIV)

“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something. You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” – Matthew 23:25-28 (MSG)

I don’t want to be a whitewashed tomb! I don’t want to live another day with a sparkly cup and a hardened-by-sin heart. I want a pliable heart in the hands of my Maker. I want to care more about what He thinks of me than what others see when they look at me. I want to focus on my relationship with Him, not on my outward appearance. I want to rest in God’s grace and mercy, not in my performance. I want to be like Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, not like Martha who was caught up in her to-do lists. (And I love my to-do lists.)

But I’m tired of doing. I want to be.

I want to be what I was called to be: a Daughter of the Most High, a selfless wife and mother, an extension of the Father’s love, a light shining bright in the darkness…

It’s easier to fixate on the physical. Our tendency is toward self and the flesh; it’s natural, especially in our culture today. But let us remember that God looks at the heart, at what the world can’t see. And let us walk by faith, not by sight, focusing on the things of the Spirit. I’m done sowing to the flesh; I want to sow to the Spirit!

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18

I did have a quick talk with my little one before we parted ways for the day, sealed with a hug and kiss… but I’m grateful that God brought this all to the forefront of my heart and mind so that I can work through it. I am first His daughter, then a wife to my incredible husband, then a mother to my four amazing children… and I want to make sure that my heart is in the right place before I worry about my outward appearance (including my hair).

For the record, God gave me some incredibly frizzy, unruly hair that needs quite a bit of taming. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing to look nice or presentable before you leave the house. But I run into trouble when I prioritize that over the condition of my heart… which is what I’m hoping to change in this next season of my life.

How? That’s what I’m wrestling through now. We started a new study today – “When Life is Hard” by James MacDonald. I’m hoping to find some answers through it over the next six weeks, to grow and learn, and to seek God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength. I truly want Him to be first in my life.

And then He brought Ezekiel 36:25-26 to mind:

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 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.” (NIV)

“I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed.” (MSG)

My {spiritual} heart surgery.

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