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A HEART IN NEED OF REPAIR

June 23rd, 2014

After a really long dry spell, I sense God is nudging me to memorialize my most recent venture into the recesses of my soul.  On one hand, I am excited to feel the creative juices flowing again; on the other hand, opening the door to personal exposure makes me shrink back just a little.

For the past number of months, I have been experiencing nights when my body just does not want to settle in to sleep.  After tossing and turning for a while, I will get up and sit in the prayer room until I feel sleepy enough to go back to bed.  Such was the case a few nights ago.

Unexpectedly, this night brought an entirely different experience.  After crawling back into bed, a heaviness engulfed me and I buried my face in my pillow.   I laid there for hours in the largest pool of shame and brokenness I had experienced in a while.  As my sin nature was being exposed in what felt like a bright and cruel light, I mourned over the condition of my heart.  I sought the Lord for insight and answers, having no immediate solutions of my own, but desperate for an overhaul.

During my awake time in the prayer room, I had settled into my favorite chair, grabbed my laptop, and proceeded to play solitaire.  For nearly an hour, I fell prey to a mind-numbing activity that bore absolutely no fruit.  This had become pretty much a habit lately, and although there is nothing wrong or sinful about the game of solitaire, I was painfully aware that something was terribly wrong.  My choosing to regularly spend my time on this dead-end activity was a hint that I needed to delve deeper into my soul.

As I began to dig, I did not like what I found.  Just a few hours earlier, I had lain prostrate on the floor to receive the gift of travail, offering up my prayer and intercession for the church, our country, and the world.  Shortly thereafter, I had apparently forgotten all about that high calling.  With so much turmoil these days, there is much to pray about, but I had proceeded to fill my head with mindless card shuffling.  So, why was I not using that time to pray?  That was a hard question, and it opened the door to even more painful questions.  Am I really not all that concerned about the needs of others?  Do I not believe that prayer is effective and well worth the effort?  Am I not interested in being a part of what God is doing?  Am I content to simply numb my mind and waste away precious time?  Are these missed opportunities an indictment of my spiritual laziness, the exposure of the true condition of my heart?  Was the solitaire becoming an idol?  Those questions haunted me as I waited to escape in sleep.

It’s no wonder I was in a state of overwhelming grief, too numb to even cry.  Sadly, every question could be answered in the affirmative.  No, not always, but far more often than I wanted to admit.  No doubt my heart was in need of more renewing.  Wow, this was humiliating, and sad, and almost frightening.  I did not even know where to start.  I knew that repentance was in order, but I was not sure I even had what it would take to turn this around.  After all, repentance includes change.  Sure, I could will myself to discontinue playing solitaire, but would that end up being nothing more than behavior modification?  No thanks!  I desperately needed heart change.

When morning finally came, I had a lot to share with my husband as we went for our walk.  With heavy heart, pushing back the blanket of shame, I laid out the whole picture to him.  As I poured out my pain, I continued to ask Holy Spirit to show me what I needed to know about this revelation, and what actions were mine to take.  I knew with certainty that He would complete the work in me, as I invited Him in, but I surely did not know where to begin.  Until some of my questions were resolved and some changes made, I knew that shame had a legal right and a legitimate purpose in my soul.

As we walked, Holy Spirit brought to my mind the story of Todd Bentley.  He is an outspoken evangelist/prophet/conference speaker that we have followed and loved for many years.  Right in the middle of a huge revival with international attention, he took a spectacular fall into sin, and his entire ministry imploded.  For several years he went through ‘the dark night of the soul’ before he was restored and his ministry resurrected.  While people were aghast over his exposure, the Lord showed us His redemptive mode of operation.  When a person is born again, his entire life begins to change as he sheds off his old life, layer by layer by layer.  The deeper the layer, the more hidden the sin.  In Todd’s case, God was in the process of exposing a very deeply hidden sin, one that needed to be brought out in the open and removed.  In order for Todd to move into the next level of his Kingdom walk, this place in his heart needed to be healed and purified.  His adventure was long and painful, but I am certain that the reward far outweighed the horror of the experience.

As I examined that story in light of my own recent exposure, I could see a glimmer of light for me.  Because it was obvious that the Lord had put Todd in my mind at that moment, I knew He wanted me to identify with his story.  As we discussed the correlation, I found my spirit rising as I thought about what it all might mean.  Perhaps God is preparing me to move into a new level, in my ministry and in my Kingdom walk.  Suddenly I was grateful that God had held His microscope up to my soul and had illuminated that root of my sin.

My next concern was for the actual condition of my heart.  I know I can pray and ask my Father to heal me, and then I can stand in faith, believing He will do just that.  But how will I know when that is happening?  Sure enough, Holy Spirit brought my mind to another memory.  A few years ago I went on a forty day fast, and following that fast, I was anxious to know what spiritual victory I had won.  I could not put my finger on anything specific, so periodically I would revisit that place.  Some time later, the Lord revealed the mystery to me in a most unlikely manner.  Waiting for my turn to see my doctor, I was thumbing through a health magazine and I ran across an article about fasting.  The writer said that after his most recent fast, he realized that his faith had become noticeably stronger.  As I pondered the thought of that being a worthwhile reward, I felt an intense stirring in my spirit.  So, I began to test the level of my own faith and, much to my delight, I could see that a strong increase had taken place in me.  That was a red letter day, and I thanked the Lord for the sweet way He revealed my victory to me.  Remembering this incident, I was so encouraged; it was as if God was reminding me to not be concerned.  As I do my part, He will do His part, and He will allow me to see the progress as I go from glory to glory.

Tonight as I ponder over God’s urging for me to step up my prayer life and make it more of a priority, I can look back over the past few years and see how He has brought me along, teaching me His ways, step by step.  I can see a pattern of how He has taught me how to hear His voice and how to pray effectively.  Initially, I had no clue how to pray or what to say, but He has gradually brought me to a place in my Kingdom walk where I have become an effective prayer warrior.  The journey has been slow – until right now.  Suddenly I am sensing a prompting to accelerate, which makes me wonder what’s up.  Is it simply time to sharpen one of the spiritual tools on my tool belt?  Is there a change coming quickly and I need to be ready?  Am I being prepared to step up into a new season?  Is this the result of my receiving a new anointing for travail?  Is God in the process of peeling off one more layer of my flesh?  Did He just lift me out of a downward spiral that hints of addiction and leads to idolatry?  Or did I just need a little prodding to keep me from getting lazy?

Whatever the reason and whatever God’s plan may be, I am ready to step into it.  I am emerging from the woodshed with a new resolve.  As I write this paragraph I am up again in the middle of the night.  A big part of me wants to turn on the solitaire, and I just might do that before I drag myself back to bed.  But before I settle in for some mindless entertainment, first I am going to finish this piece.  Then I am going to curl up in my chair and offer up my prayers for the church, our country, the world, and for those I love.  I know God will teach me the balance, but I need to take the first step and show Him that He is first and foremost in my life.  Shame is beginning to slink away and humiliation has given way to humility.  I have fixed my eyes on the Cross and have received the free gift of forgiveness that Jesus paid such a high price to provide for me.  And I am envisioning myself in the lap of my Daddy God, thanking Him for always looking out for me, and for allowing me the privilege of communicating with Him through the gift of prayer.  Life is sweet again – until the next trip to the woodshed. 

Would you join me in the watch, rejoicing with me as His overshadowing draws me closer to Him?  Who knows, others may notice the transformation in me before I notice it myself.  Will you pray with me?  Will you pray for me?  Will you piggy-back off my lesson and examine your own heart?  If Holy Spirit has been speaking to you as you read about my adventure, I urge you to be swift to respond, allowing God to bless you and guide you in you own new level.