The Human Heart

God is for you. God isn’t against you. He grieves the things that have hurt us, the people who did despicable things to us. He fights for us so to breathe truth into our lives where others may have spoken evil things over us. There is so much suffering in this world and man in his finite mind thinks if he were God he or she could fix the world in an instant. Heal all those sick children, strike down those who murdered. Man? What would you do? Would you be as just to your relatives as you would be to a stranger who committed the same crime? If it were all in your hands, would your world be fair? Would you heal the sick child of someone who had taken the life of yours? And how would you deal with your own wickedness? Every thought you had to steal or a flash of wanting someone else’s home, possessions, spouse? Every time you’d lied or used someone’s else’s body for selfish pleasure and discarded them like rubbish or your relentless thoughts of revenge. The times you tossed a coin in a cup but didn’t bother to even look at the person holding it or like me even crossed the road to avoid them. All the times you did the very opposite of lift up and encourage friends, colleagues, strangers or loved ones. Our disputes with neighbours, keying someone’s car, wishing someone dead. So are the depths of evil in our hearts and we haven’t even got to the crimes that break earthly laws.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

You talk of how God, in all his power would make it a perfect world. We, mankind, are so far gone, in every way. Our hearts are evil beyond repair. Even the very ‘best’ (aka sinning in ways that don’t seem as bad or obvious as others’ sin) of us fall short of a Holy standard.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

So God looks at the world he made and the people in it, he sees the sin and darkness in our hearts and He comes, the Word made flesh. The only one, perfectly sinless, who could take the sins of the world. And this he does in his death at the cross; stripped, beaten and bloodied by men and it didn’t stop there, worse still, the unthinkable, God’s wrath against our sin violently came down on Him. Jesus is plunged into darkness, God’s love taken away from him, absolute spiritual torture and agony and all so that through him he makes the only way for us to be right with God. He lovingly gives us a choice to accept salvation, the free gift of life in him so we never have to remain in eternal darkness with God’s face turned against us. All the sins of all people, everything we ever did, thought and said and will do, think and say, all our deserved punishment came down on Jesus. Because God is a god of justice, sin is dealt with, it’s not ignored or covered up.

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” Acts 2:24

And God raises him because death has no power over him and only in him and through him we walk freely and free into new life with him, where our sins have been exposed by his light, the light of the world. No longer slaves to sin, no longer ruled by guilt, shackled by shame, harassed by anxious thoughts and all the ways sin permeates and wreaks havoc in our bodies, minds and spirits – ultimately ending in eternal death, both physical and spiritual, an eternity in the absence of God’s love, holiness, gentleness, truth, justice, peace, life, light, mercy, grace, hope, healing, comfort, kindness, joy.

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

John 3:20-21

When God’s holy, wondrous light blazed over me, it was the first time I saw myself as I am. Not the good or kind person that I thought I was but his light exposed the very depths of my nature and in an instant I saw that I was the worst of the worst. I understood I was wicked to the core but also God’s perfect love was pouring over me, his amazing grace poured over a wretch like me! Sinner that I am I was loved and because of the cross nothing can ever stand in the way of his love for me. “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12 and he has made me new “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

We no longer scurry about in the darkness, oppressed and in bondage by sin but are born again. We are given new hearts, hearts that are able and desire to do the will of God, hearts that have tasted and are filled with the goodness of God and so grow day by day repulsed by doing, thinking, saying anything not of God. Jesus went through the hardest unimaginable journey so we could easily come home to him. This is the love of God, this is how much he loves every single person on this planet. This is love.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

John 3:16

I first heard the good news watching Jesus of Nazareth on an old VHS tape that a family friend had left at our home. I was 4 or 5 years old and at the crucifixion tears began rolling down my cheeks. Deeper than the horror of the scene, there was something about what this mysterious man did that moved me deep in my soul. It wasn’t until my mid twenties I crashed to my knees alone in my bedroom, the without-reason-hollowness in my soul so suffocating that all I had left was to cry out to the Lord. He came for me. I’ve heard the good news written on an advertising lorry parked on the side of a motorway, I’ve heard it on toilet cubicle door graffiti, on a comedians audio cd, on the underside of Forever 21’s bags and during times when people make fun of the cross. I sit and watch in quiet amazement how my children eagerly request “the one where Jesus dies” in the storybook bible. I watched how a son delighted in sharing the good news at his dad’s funeral. As a bishop spoke at the royal wedding at the weekend, millions of people heard the good news.

GOD LOVES YOU. The source of love, love himself. Loves YOU. Love so big that no earthly words could ever describe. He is the one you are searching for. He is the missing piece. The refreshing breath. And the best surprise of all is that all along we think we’ve been the ones searching but all along it’s been God pursuing us with powerful galaxy shattering relentless furiosity.

Whether you hear the good news and shuffle uncomfortably in your seats, laugh at the absurdness, roll your eyes, raise your eyebrows, whether you are religious or not religious, on a spiritual journey, whether you have mocked or mock Jesus, whether you are a good upstanding member of society, whether you’ve never done a single thing right in your life. Whether you mumble through the Lord’s prayer on autopilot or have never heard of it. Whether you’ve never set foot in a church or when you do you just want to bash your head against the pew in front because. this. endless. droning. from. the. vicar. is. really. never. going. to. end. Whether you’ve been forced into a religion, escaped one or weren’t brought up in one. Whether you’ve been jaded by oppressive religious authorities or told God doesn’t love you because [insert any number of reasons a human can hatefully control another human]. If God has not measured up to your expectations, if he’s never answered you or you want nothing to do with him. If you’ve openly or secretly hated all the god bothering and bible bashing nonsense you come across. If you don’t know the commandments or if you’ve done or not done some or all of them. If you don’t understand how God let those people get away with the things they did to you or someone else. If you are angry, hurt or strong. The homeless, the hungry, the accomplished, the terminally ill. If you just feel nothing. If you feel it’s too late. If you are filled with lead-heavy guilt and shame. If you are entangled in a web of deceit right now. Whether you are caught up in the occult or dabbled with the demonic. If you are harassed and held hostage by fear, if you can’t find the way out. If you are just plain tired. The adulterers, the losers, the Mr and Ms perfects, the rich, the lost, the lonely, the religious scholars, the confused, the broken, the charitable, the imprisoned, the good souls, the addicted, the famous, the forgotten and ignored. Who ever you are, where ever you are, what ever you are doing right now, whatever you have done or not done YOU ARE LOVED and this is for you, his love can not be earned but it is a free gift to receive.

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

Ask

If you have wondered about Jesus over Christmas but have only seen him as a plastic doll or a distant figure in a stained glass window or maybe Jesus hasn’t featured in your celebrations at all. But if you have felt a pull in your heart to know Jesus, then where ever you are now, all you need to do is ask him. God loves you SO much. There is no greater love than this. He has made a way for you. There is absolutely nothing you can do or have done to make him love you any more or any less than he already does. 

FEAR

  

Fear has been regularly knocking at my door through the misdiagnoses, scans, appointments, prescriptions, referrals, medications, Internet self diagnoses and handling the increasing severity of pain. I had to get through a lot of opposition to get the right medication but got there in the end. I was praying for just one day of feeling okay, just one day! And now I’m so grateful to have had 2 weeks pain free. There are still tests to do and specialists to see but I’ve learnt so much on this journey. I’ve experienced fear that subtly creeps in, it starts off as a small pin prick but it’s venom spreads through the body so quickly and, with me, at the worst it ends with anger or tears. Sometimes I’ve felt too cross to ask God for help but I’ve known that he is my only help. When I haven’t known which doctors opinion to trust I know I’m already in safe hands. When I’ve let my mind run away with the dread of what could be, he has reminded me that it’s ALL good anyway. When I’ve struggled with daily activities he’s flooded my heart with sweet words of comfort, hope and peace. When a doctor has expressed their irritation towards me, Jesus has instantly healed the hurt; showing me that doctors are only human too, they may feel pressure in their profession and to love them deeply anyway. When I have felt out of control, he has drenched me with the security that he is in control. He has enabled me to be thankful for the miraculous way in which my body works and to see the multitude of things to be grateful for that always far outweigh the difficult stuff. I’ve learnt to lean on him for everything because he really does care about the smallest details in our lives. His comfort and peace in every circumstance is like no other. It’s all been so wonderfully faith building. So fear, what ever guise it taps on the window in; terror, anxiety, post traumatic stress…He gives us the power to flick it away like the annoying little gnat it is. We don’t need to be afraid or even need to exhaust ourselves fighting or trying to control fear, we need only be still, trusting in Jesus. When I feel those first ripples of fear, that is my cue to fix my eyes on our maker.  

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“Cast all you anxiety on him because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19

Learning to love

  
Love was the one thing I was sure I did well but when God breathed truth into my life I saw that my standard of love fell so short of the perfection of Jesus. Being in the presence of flawless love instantly exposed all my unloving daily thoughts & actions. God’s explanation was so powerfully gentle; there was no anger, fear, guilt or punishment. I saw that my love only extended to the people I have in my life and occasionally to someone in need. His love is so perfect that I fail even to the people closest to me – 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

I have failed at EVERY SINGLE ONE! So what good is love if I don’t do it fully and fiercely? Why does the love that I choose to give have limits and conditions? Why is the amount of love I have for someone relative to how close they are to me or how good our relationship? Surely the love I have for the stranger in town should be just as powerful as the love for my own child. 

“Love your neighbour as yourself” 

I knew this verse and always felt, for me, it seemed impossible to obey; for example, I definitely did not love the man who raced me to the last seat on the tube when I was heavily pregnant. But I’d never read the verse before – 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

And *that’s how we love to full capacity! He breaks the barriers we set, he enables us all to love boldly, powerfully & unconditionally. By first being secure in God’s love for me (despite my many many flaws!) and experiencing how precious we are to him, it becomes crystal clear how precious EVERY SINGLE PERSON on this earth is to him so who am I to put up barriers on his incredible gift of love! If we choose every day to keep our hearts fully open to Jesus allowing him to lead us then His awesome, thundering, mighty, boundless love blazes through.