Monday, January 17, 2011

Close to Heart

The Lord has blessed me in amazing and abundant ways. This Journey has been extraordinary.

Seven months ago I stepped onto an airplane that took me to a place beyond words. Seven months ago. Even as I write this, I cannot believe that it has been so long. And yet, it has been an eternity. No, it was just yesterday. I cannot quite wrap my mind around how long I feel that it has been, because it is in my heart every single day. All that I know is that the calendar tells me that it has been seven months. Seven months ago a small airplane took me over the ocean to a country that has been and forever will be in my heart. Seven months ago I stepped off of that same, small airplane onto unfamiliar soil. And yet my heart still leaps every time that I think of it.

Every time that someone speaks the name of the country, "Haiti", I feel as though a piece of it is mine... as I have left a piece of my heart with the people there and have replaced it with a piece of them and their country. This single heart holds the memories, the smells, the sights, the sounds, the air, the voices, the languages, and the dear people of places once far away.

Today at church I was given the challenge to draw near to God, for it is then that He draws near to me. Oh, it brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart! To know that the Savior, the Creator of ALL the universe, the KING of kings, the LORD of lords, the great GOD wants me to draw near to Him is just too much for me to handle at times. When I come to even a slight glimpse of what this means to me in my life, it is as if everything else in the whole wide world just fades away except that which is near and dear to my Father's heart, those things that mean the most to Him. And those are the things that matter.

GOD - the King of kings - did not just tell me that He loves me. He did not just say, "For God so loved the world..." (John 3:16), He sent His Son to die so that I could be forgiven. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
-Romans 5:8

God did not just tell me that He loves me. No, He demonstrated it by sending His Son Jesus to the earth while we were still sinners and He died for me. Does that ever hit you? Does it ever strike you as absolutely amazing, that Christ died for us - for you and for me? No "god" of any other religion dare step down that low to become like us so that He could die in our place.

"I love Him." I do. I love Jesus. And yet those are just words, and those words when simply written in ink do not mean a thing. Nothing at all. Anyone can say anything, whether they truly mean it or not. God is not dumb. It may be obvious, but I think that we forget. He is all-knowing; He knows that we are good with our lips and not so good with carrying out what we say with our lips. He says:

"These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me."
-Isaiah 29:13

"If you love Me, keep my commands... Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me."
-John 14:15, 21

Ah, there it is. This is how I can demonstrate to the Lord Jesus Christ how I love Him. This is how I am able to make my words more than just words. This is how I show Him that I do, in fact, love Him.
If I love Him, I will obey Him.

Even when it is hard.
Even when it goes against everything and everyone around me.
Even when it seems impossible.
Even when it means that I must give up something "valuable" to me.
Even when it means that I do not get my way.
Even when it means that I must lose everything so that I may gain all of Him.

Yes, surely if I love Him, I will obey Him.

Seven months ago I followed Him on a part of this Journey that broke me in ways that I can never truly describe. Pieces of it seemed impossible at times, and yet the Lord's strength broke through at just the right moment, every single moment. Sometimes I did not understand some things, but that did not matter because the peace that the Lord gave me outweighed any and all doubts that may have been swirling around in my oh-so-human mind. And that is exactly why I am sharing this. I do not share this to say that I am perfect or that I have in any way arrived. I share this as a reminder, as much to me as to any one else, that when one obeys the Lord, blessings follow. He always leads, always loves, always provides.

He does not ask me to obey Him and then leave me there, hanging off of the cliff. No, He gives me the resources to climb up the mountain and do what He has asked me to do, to carry out the task that He has set before me. Always. It has never failed in my life. He has never failed me. Maybe I have not understood some circumstances or situations and yes, there have even been those times when I was completely broken and could not comprehend why the Lord would allow such a thing to happen. And yet every single time, He overwhelms me with His peace. And He reminds me that He has a Plan. A very, very Perfect and Profound Plan.

"If you love me, keep My commands." What is it that the Lord is asking me to do next? Will I do what the Enemy tempts me to do and walk away from it, because the task seems too big? Will I go the other direction, thinking that my way is the best way? Will I shy away from it, seeing it as something bigger than myself and definitely never something that the Lord would ask ME to do?!

No. No. No! I cannot. I look back on all that the Lord has done in my life and I cannot. I cannot disobey my Lord. All that matters is Him. That is it. It is not about me. No way is it ever about me. I cannot even take my next breath without the Lord allowing my heart to beat again. No. I must obey Him, with everything... everything... No matter what.

Seven months ago I stepped off of a small airplane onto once unfamiliar soil. Two weeks later I stepped back onto that airplane, forever changed. Tired, yes. Having been stretched beyond my comforts, yes. Having faced fear a number of times, yes. Did the Lord give me strength? Every single moment. Did He grow me through the moments that I was stretched beyond my "comfort zone"? Oh, yes. Did He give me a peace "which transcends all understanding" (Philippians 4:7)? Yes, yes, yes!

Will I obey Him with my next step? Moment-by-moment, day-by-day?

One of these moments I am going to be face-to-face with my Savior, or perhaps face down because of His great splendor and glory and holiness. I want to hear Him say, "Well done." I want to know Him. I want to have obeyed Him with every ounce of myself here on earth, to be stretched and used by the King of kings - for His service and for His Kingdom. There is no greater Purpose in all of life, no where and in nothing else.

One purpose. One mission. When I am focused on Him, everything else simply falls away, drops away...

Will I show Him that I love Him? Will I obey Him?

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