Thursday, September 6, 2012

How He Expands Our Hearts

[Those of you who are part of Stan's and my church fam may remember this devotional I wrote at the beginning of this year.  It's been a busy evening in my corner of the world tonight, and I've been wanting to share this piece here on the blog.... so I figured this is a perfect time to pull out this piece.  Take a deep breath as you read it...and let the Father expand your heart.]

How He Expands Our Hearts

The house is a wreck.  I'm three days behind on laundry, my kid is sick, I'm fighting sickness, and I have about 20 more things on my plate than I feel like I can handle.  Oh, and this devotional is due this week (which was LAST week! :) )  and I can't imagine when Stan and I are going to have time to sit down to write it.  In the midst of the pressure, I feel the Father's gentle whisper: "Be still.  This is how I am expanding your heart."

Two Possible Responses to Pressure

I have learned that there are 2 possible responses that I can have to the pressures that come with life.  The first is to become taut (definition: "pulled or drawn tight; not slack"), much like an old wine skin or a rubber band that's seen its better days...You know how easily old rubber bands crack and snap and can even hurt someone when they are stretched...  In me this "tautness" can manifest in several ways.  I become noticeably stressed out, even irritable.  I begin to run out of grace for those closest to me.  My conversations with my husband can move toward manipulation because I'm operating out of a place of fear that my needs won't be met.  I am easily frustrated with Isaac and overwhelmed by all that needs to be done.  My to-do list starts to feel insurmountable.  These are the warning signs.  Too often I find myself living from this place: trying to be all that I'm called to be, but doing it in my own strength, out of a heart that is inflexible, inelastic, unyielding to the stretching that the Father is trying to accomplish in me.

The alternative to the response of a "taut" heart, is a heart that is "stretchy" (definition: "pliant").  Better words might be "flexible," "supple," "tempered," "yielding."  A heart that is soft and malleable and tuned in to the Father's whispers, being resourced by Him in the midst of a life that is full of pressures.  In those moments when it feels like the intensity of life is closing in around me, the Father is teaching me to take a minute, breathe deeply, and allow the stretching to take place....allow Him to "settle" down inside of me a little bit more, expanding my heart, increasing my capacity to trust when the answers aren't coming, to emit grace and peace when I would otherwise exude the opposite.... stretching my capacity to hold more of Him To be "stretched" is not comfortable.  When a woman is pregnant, there is great discomfort as new life grows inside of her.  She is stretched to her outermost limits as her body expands to contain the beauty God has placed within her.

Let Me Expand Myself In You

This is what God is after in us when He asks us to love till it hurts deeply, to lay down our lives for the least of these, to extend grace beyond what we thought possible, to forgive for the 400th time.  Or... when the house is in shambles and you're not feeling well and the kids are extra disobedient and your husband calls to say he'll be late coming home.  Or... when you have a deadline to meet and your boss is pressuring you and you can't figure out how to solve the all problems that need solving.  Or... when you find out that your job is ending and you can't see where the finances are going to come from to provide the basics for your family.  In these moments, He whispers: "Be still.  Trust me.  I am here, all around you.  Lean into me.  I will carry you.  I will be enough for you.  I am everything you need.  Let me expand your heart.  Let me expand myself in you in this moment, in these circumstances."  

And as we respond with a soft heart to the Father's invitations in moments like these, and in EVERY moment, He will encounter us like we've never known before, deepen our intimacy with Him, increase our trust in Him, and expand our capacity to hold Him and emit His grace to those around us.  What beauty He births in us when our hearts are surrendered to His ways and His processes!

Father, may we say "YES" to you in this season in deeper ways than before.  We choose to tune our hearts and our ears to the frequency of your whispers in the midst of pressure, so we can hear your invitations and so that you can expand our hearts.  Have your way in us, Father, in the deepest places of our hearts.  Increase our faith.  Expand yourself within us.  Thank you for your fierce commitment to changing us so we look more like You.  We rest in that today.

Phil. 1:6  "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."


What about you, friends?  How is the Father "expanding your heart" and stretching your faith in this season?  How can I stand with you in prayer?

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