Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8, ESV).
I posted on Facebook earlier that the K-Love verse of the day was Matthew 5:8, and that today’s lesson from my Aunt’s Max Lucado “Experiencing the Heart of Jesus” Bible study was on the Beatitudes.
“Coincidences” like this tend to get me thinking….and the following paragraph from Lucado really got my brain going this morning: “And though your heart isn’t perfect, it isn’t rotten. And though you aren’t invincible, at least you’re plugged in. And you can bet that he who made you knows just how to purify you – from the inside out.”
God knows how to purify you from the inside out… Why, yes, He does, even when you’re not looking for Him to! In fact, God started working on my heart years before I was saved. I believe this was necessary for me to fully embrace His love for me.
When I look back to the relationships and other experiences I had during college and graduate school, it was clear that my heart was non-existent. I was closed to receiving love from others and tended to push people away when they tried to get too close. The rational behind this could be a dissertation in itself, so I will spare you the details, but basically, I kept my heart safe, so no one could hurt me. Instead of opening my heart to the possibility of things I didn’t understand, I hardened my heart, refusing to let anyone in.
Luckily, God slowly began softening my heart and planting seeds that would one day allow me to realize His love.
The major chisel to my hardened heart was the birth of my son. I have learned so much about how to love by becoming a mother than from anything I have ever experienced. Most people try to teach their children to love as they do; but, I can honestly say that my ability to love has resulted from my son teaching me! I wish I could say that I learned the first time I held him in my arms, but like everything, it’s been a process. Early on, I failed more often than I succeeded, but God gave me a wonderful boy, who always loved me in spite of my many imperfections as a mother. I am grateful that my son and I are finally to a place where we can both learn from one another!
The next major chisel to my heart problem was the realization that my life was not where I wanted it to be. I was still not a Christian, so I cannot really cite this verse as the basis for my change, but looking back, it makes perfect sense: Get rid of the sins you have done, and get for yourselves a new heart and a new way of thinking (Ezekiel 18:31, NCV).
I knew some things in my life had to change, even before I knew I needed God. Again, this is backwards thinking! We should realize we need God, and allow Him to change us, but that’s not how it initially worked, likely because I did not have an understanding of God’s grace from my Catholic upbringing. But, even though I was not seeking God, He was always chasing after me!
Slowly, my heart began to change, and I became open to loving other people and letting them into my heart. However, as with anything new, it wasn’t a smooth process. I ended up being manipulated and found myself in a dangerous situation. But, despite the pain that resulted from my naïve heart, God used this experience to bring me to church, and by this point, my heart was ready to know Him. Even though some people may not understand my feelings, I have absolutely no regrets, as this led me to learn about God’s amazing grace, Jesus’ unfailing love, and ultimately gave me eternal life!
To me, the most surprising thing is that afterwards, I did not go back to the “safety” of my hardened heart, as I would have expected, but rather I learned to trust God with my heart. And, while the road has not always been smooth, and my humanness tends to complicate matters, I know I am headed in the direction that He desires for me.
I’m being purified from the inside out, and as this is happening, I am able to see God more clearly. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves).”