• Heart Undressed Blog


Last week I was sitting in the second floor reading room at the Hutch library. The two outside walls are glass so the comfy chairs and ample light are very conducive to relaxing & reading. And you can put your feet up. All that’s missing for me is light classical music playing in the background. So, after another doctor appointment, followed by three errands, I was ready to sit, & exhale, before driving back home.

As previously mentioned, I enjoy reading Christian historical fiction as a means of mental release. I also like biographies & autobiographies. All in all, reading encourages me to hang in there, when life feels overwhelming. Or my brain feels bombarded by information overload. I have to be intentional about taking the time to read or it doesn’t happen, & life can wind up feeling 100% serious. I’m at home in a library. Having grown up without TV, it wasn’t uncommon to digest a dozen books in a week. We biked our way there & back, refilling our baskets with wholesome books & series that are now considered classics. As an adult, I’m not one to read exclusively for knowledge. I look for God in whatever I read, trusting He has some nuggets of truth to refresh my soul while doing one of my favorite pastimes.

That day was no different in my desire for an opportunity to rest, & to let the decisions on my plate sit on the “back burner” for an hour. So I sat comfortably, sipping iced coffee, totally engrossed in the story line, when one of the main characters said this: “Seek His desires, above all, no matter what you will have to surrender. And you will have to surrender. We all do. It’s part of the soul’s refinement. I wish I’d learned that earlier in life. That when we surrender…or when He takes something from us, His motivation always stems from love…Listen for His voice, for He will speak to you. And be ready when He does. Because oftentimes not only is the cost one you need to have counted beforehand, but the opportunity He brings…will never likely come again.” I stopped, lowered the book, & took a deep spiritual gulp! It was exactly what I’d been warring with in my soul.

Somethings are meant to be shared, but with limited details so as not to defile other people. The story affecting me isn’t necessarily mine to tell. My personal lessons are. Suffice it to say, the Lord knows the pain in my soul from losing from people I love. People don’t have to die to be taken away. I’ve known both types of relational loss, many times over. Additionally, there’s endless circumstantial challenges. Hands down, give me circumstantial trials over relational loss! SO, when I read “His motivation is always love,” I felt whopped upside the head (and heart). I know this to be true from previous experiences. I’ve given testimony to that truth. But my heart was ripe. And reading it in black & white, from a neutral third-party source, stopped me cold! I’ve been forced, in a sense, to deal with untimely pain, gaining a little more understanding, maybe some wisdom, & intimacy with Christ. In all honestly, the process never really feels that good. I know what I believe & I know the truth of the Gospel. God is love. He’s sovereign. He sees the whole picture. Nothing is a surprise to Him. As I like to say it, He has a purpose, the plan to accomplish that purpose, & the power to make it happen. All true. I am resolved in the foundations of my faith. And when the feeling of loss comes out of nowhere, sucking the air out of my lungs, HE IS IT! Jesus is the truth I cling to.

However, I don’t believe we can always count the cost of surrender before hand. We aren’t that smart. And that wouldn’t be walking by faith. Sometimes, surrender is almost forced upon you out of sheer desperation because it’s the only thing you know to do. Often, my cost has been painfully revealed in the quiet reality after surrender. Calculating the cost/loss of external circumstances is generally objective by nature. We make our lists of pros & cons, check the boxes, make the decision…done! But that isn’t true with unsuspecting relational conflict/loss/death. It happens suddenly. It happens unexpectedly. It doesn’t show partiality. Additionally, the enemy of our souls is relentless & bent on destruction in this particular area of our lives. Once in awhile, we suspect something is coming. The pretense hangs over the relationship like a cloud. Other times words & impulsive decisions leave you breathless & emotionally reeling. “Wow! I didn’t see that one coming!” has come out of my mouth on multiple occasions. I can only count the cost based on what I understand to be the truth. So to me, there’s a bit of a gap between a life-action decision you can weigh in the balance, and relational loss that can only truly be processed when it happens. That being said, the bottom line is that the incidences/opportunities in my life are completely within the confines of God’s timing. He is never surprised. And because He isn’t, He is a sure & steady safe haven. Just remember, while He is our Refuge, there are always consequences to every action, both good & evil. To me, that’s where the cost is revealed & lived out.

A few days after my library read, I was up early, continuing this practical “working out of my salvation.” On a whim, I looked up the devotional reading for my birthday, June 26. The featured verse was “The Lord is your keeper,” from Psalm 121:5. I love that Psalm & have read it umpteen times through the years, marking it up with notes & personal ah-ha’s. This time was no exception in discovering another gold nugget for my weary soul. F.B Meyer (1847-1929) was the “dead guy” who wrote the commentary on my birth date. “Give yourself entirely up to Him, renouncing all trust in yourself, & all connection with evil. Choose definitely & forever the lot of the cross of Jesus. And then trust Jesus to keep you. Whenever temptation approaches, look up & say, ‘Jesus, I trust Your keeping power.’ Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you so constantly in this attitude that it may become the habit of your soul to look to Jesus when temptation assails. TRUST HIM TO KEEP YOU TRUSTING…Surely it were the height of blasphemy to affirm that the Almighty is not able, or willing, to keep the soul that trusts Him.”

True confession - there is no greater area of worry to my soul than relational issues. In our 40 years together, we’ve laid to rest 4 parents, 2 siblings, & the hope of 6 grandbabies. That’s not to mention the passing of extended family or friends. But that pain of those losses always held the hope of eternal life in Christ. When that’s the case, you can speak of those folks in freedom & thankfulness. It’s the ongoing life relationships that the enemy tries to wreak chaos in, especially between believers, so that the name of Jesus Christ will be dishonored. And he cares naught how we’re hurt in the struggle. If you’ve experienced any conflict in relationship at all, I know you’re affirmatively nodding your head. Living pretentiously is exhausting. Pretending is not freeing. Shedding pretense DOES come with a price, a cost, that despite your best intentions, might just blow up in your face.

Riding the tails of my last blog on gossip, I’m so relieved to embrace the truth that Jesus didn’t live pretentiously & compromise the truth or Who He was. He didn’t fake it to make it. He lived honestly before His Father & men. Achieving popularity wasn’t his goal. He was under constant scrutiny & spiritual criticism. But He trusted His Father to know what to say & do. (See John 12:49; 14:10,26,&27) I/we should take note. He is the means to conflict resolution because He is the only heart-changer, both your heart & the heart of the person you’re at odds with. If we are willing, He is able. Many times, I would like to know the outcome to my obedience, especially when it’s out of my comfort zone. But that’s not how Jesus lived, nor why He died & was resurrected. Surrendering to His unknown plan, His unknown purposes, & His expression of power is what He calls us to. “Whoever does not carry his own cross & come after Me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27) The Greek meaning of cross, in this verse, is the portion of affliction endured as a trial of faith, to conform to the example of the crucified Master. Will I/we surrender relationships, affections, physical bodies, rights & possessions? “We are apt to forget that a man is not only committed to Jesus Christ for salvation; he is committed to Jesus Christ’s view of God, of the world, of sin & of the devil, & this will mean that he must recognize the responsibility of being transformed by the renewing of his mind.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Dear Jesus, I trust You to keep me trusting. You must increase. I must decrease. (John 3:30) My story for Your greater glory, even when it hurts. I love you, Lord.”


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