Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sweetnesses I Often Forget

Frankly, I don't have time to write this down, but I'm afraid I'll lose it if I fail to appreciate it somehow.

My heart gets tender sometimes, and I don't like it.

I've long held that people, who each are prone to hardness in some way or the other, ought to have several disciplines in place to fall upon every day that will tenderize their heart.

I'm not talking about the fake, drama-like kind of tenderness where we conjure some memory for the sake of making the water flow. I'm talking about the things that counter the hardness of this fallen world; the stuff that keeps the flesh at bay; that which makes silent the whispers of the lying, destroying enemy of God and man.

Surely, I know the earnest prayer habit is most helpful; fill it with praise and adoration and many Scripture references to the nature of God. Remind God that you remember His mercies to the world, and to you. Perhaps, if you are like me, some sweet music will break through the ice of this cold world. Maybe you might like to read poetry, or some short story or to gaze upon some wisely made art. You might be the type that needs to take a walk, amid towering trees, in the gaze of the full sun, or under the vastness of the night sky, that nature's fine testimony will alight afresh in your heart the intricate hand of God upon His creation. Without a doubt, I recommend choice Scripture readings, preferably aloud and with genuine feeling. There are more ways, I know.

Good ol' Tender Heart Bear
But, sometimes, my heart gets tender, and I don't enjoy it. Not one single bit.

I almost feel unwillingly exposed in times like these. You know, like someone has left me uncovered, or something has sneaked in behind me and caught me unawares. Then, in that way, it feels worse... unguarded and tender. Like, if I'd just seen that coming, it wouldn't have made me feel this way.

Even though I know tenderness is good, I want it on my terms, in times of my choosing, and in controllable degrees.

Today, I was caught unawares. I don't like it. I feel like weeping, even now, as I type.

Someone asked for financial help, and, from the outside looking in, they don't deserve it; they're wasteful, their priorities are all jacked up. They are morally bankrupt and immoderate in most every sense.

Then, quite unexpectedly, God shows me that person through His eyes. Really, it was miraculous. No, it wasn't omniscience that came through to me; I didn't come to understand everything about that person's life and personal affairs in some "magical" way. I don't know their sins and motivations. What God showed me is how perfectly He loves them.

I became broken. Again.

It got worse.

God showed me my own pitiful state, and His heart for me, too. He chastised me with such gentle love that my shame was erased and replaced with such tender affection I could hardly breathe. Make no mistake, God did not simply remind me of the "bad dude" I was before Christ; He showed me the wretched creature that I am, even today, and how His love and mercy is continually being extended to me day by day, and how His sweet mercy truly is new every morning.

I recalled some good words from Psalm 3
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around. (Psalm 3:3-6 ESV)

God has a long history of protecting me, except when I need to be exposed. That's a sweetness I often forget. One saying I treasure in my own heart is "Brokenness is the plow that prepares the heart for transformation." The Lord is a shield about me, except when He wounds me as a friend. The Lord sustains my life, even as I wake and slumber, save those times He desires some ugly thing be killed in me. The Lord always has my back, save when I need to be overwhelmed. His record of good wounds are a sweetness to me.

Yes, this tenderness snuck up on me, and I hated it. But, O, how I love Him!

I did not invite today's tenderness, but I welcome it.

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