9/26/2008

Joy of the Heart

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. " Mt 13:44

I am reading a book called, "Christ and the Meaning of Life" by Helmut Thielicke. Though I still don't know how to pronounce the author's German name, I fully understand his point of view. I believe the Spirit has revealed truths to him as well as to me.

In his sermon entitled, "The Treasure in the Field and the Pearl of Great Price" he states, "Christians are by nature happy people, and when they lose their sense of humor it is nothing less than a denial of their Lord." (pg. 68) There are many things one can glean from the parable of the treasure in the field, but one thing strikes me in particular. The joy the man had when he went and sold all he had is such an important facet of the story. How many Christians feel solemn and or driven by guilt to give anything up for their Lord? I use to feel this same sense of martyrdom when God required anything of me, even the smallest change. Then a breakthrough occurred. It was a literal breaking in to my heart where fear and doubt reigned for most of my life. When God Almighty pierced through my perceptions with the sword of His love, I was changed from a dried up pile of bones to a dancing child of Light almost instantly. The healing of past wounds was the process that took over ten years. I had been so hurt by my idols who I had given my heart to over and over again that when the true God Who is alone to be worshipped asked for that part of me I only had a handful of remnants made of stone to offer to Him. It's impossible for stone to experience true love. So from the time I was eighteen to the time I was twenty-eight I waited for my new heart. In the meantime I sought to know God with my mind and my soul, that which hadn't quite been so damaged. All the while, my Father healed and transformed my heart without me knowing it.

Just two years ago He presented my new heart to my consciousness, placed it within my chest, and filled me with a love never before known. This love could not set itself up in my mind, soul (I use that word as perhaps my identity), or my body. It had to make its home in the bed of my deepest desires and dreams. I had known the fire of passion for God before, but this was different. Before, with every revelation of Himself to me, I had a ravenous hunger for more information about Him. It was like I had seen Him working on something but He would tell me, "Wait, child, not yet." Excitement dwindled to eager curiosity and then to impatience. I'll even admit I lost interest toward the end. Anticipation sustained for too long can get exhausting. There was a bleak time when I thought He wanted nothing to do with me after all my mistakes as a believer. I even wondered if I should go to the dark side and be of more use to the devil. I was lost in the gravity of my failures. The still, dark ocean of the unknown blended with the night sky above me and I had no bearings. Inwardly I collapsed in terror, paralyzed. Moments later (in the scheme of eternal things) I felt God's arms around me. This was a brand new feeling. I had read about His arms and had a faint recollection of being caught or led by them but I'd never felt them so close and warm before. It was then I felt my new heart beating within me. It pumped God's love through healed limbs and organs and into the eyes of my eyes.

Now I can say I love God. Now He is the love of my life. I hunger and thirst not just for knowledge of His truth or to see His work in my life but for God Almighty Himself. It's my joy to abandon all other things to be a citizen of His Kingdom and subject to His rule. I have felt His love. It's more real to me than any human love. The empty obsessions of my adolescents tortured me with painful longing. But this love sustains me, fuels me, and brightens my countenance.

It makes me want to sing that children's song, "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!" When I was a child I couldn't have imagined my heart breaking into pebbles. I would dance and sing for joy at the mere suggestion of joy. But now I would pay everything for God's joy, and I would be joyful doing it. It's a win-win situation. A smart investment.