He’s ploughing my heart and it hurts!

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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT

 God’s been doing something different in my heart for the past 18 months. The changes started when Graham recommended a podcast. Listening to the interview with Jamie Winship shifted how I pray. My journaling turned into a conversation with Jesus.  I began opening my heart and writing down my fears, my longings, and my questions. Sometimes the Holy Spirit would right away open up new ways of thinking; other times, the insights came later through scripture or someone’s written meditation.

Honestly revealing to Jesus my dissatisfaction with myself was new. The pace of insights and painful memories accelerated after an overnight ‘retreat’ with a dear friend who is a good listener.  Then I found a Christian counselor and began to process some of my layers of toxic coping mechanisms long practiced over decades.

Then came the gift of a painful experience that caused me to confront feelings of shame. God kindly didn’t leave me alone. He directed a friend to gift me with two books that have turned out to be timely. Reading them, I’ve been able to recall past incidences when I have felt caught off guard by shame.  

Furthermore, a new friend directed my attention to the podcast channel ‘Win Today’ with Christopher Cook. These interviews with Christian authors have been a source of new ideas that promote emotional healing.

Four days ago, on Easter Sunday, some totally new insights touched a sore nerve that until then had been obscured. I was brought to tears.  I find my reaction so startling as an Enneagram 5 who normally doesn’t know what she feels until some time has elapsed. Yet crying spontaneously is fast becoming a new habit.  In the past, I have relied on thinking my way through situations.

How did I miss out on listening to my feelings for so long?   I think because early on emotions felt too dangerous and scary.

But now, God is ploughing my heart.  He’s overturning the stable earth beneath my feet and watering it with my tears.

This morning, listening to some news about some family members going through a dark patch made me wonder.

Could it be that God has some new ‘good things’ for me to do?  Is all this inner prep his way of equipping me?

I feel ready to be on the watch and to continue these programmed ‘beauty’ treatments.  I don’t think I’ll be surprised when that ‘for such a time as this’ assignment appears.

How God is changing my will

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Philippians 2:13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Lots of unholy churn and inward griping have colored my past 3 3/4 years teaching French to middle-schoolers.  I have prayed for God to open the door to other jobs that pay as much but

  • don’t include a commute of at least 1 hour 40 minutes on a traffic-free day
  • don’t place me in a sometimes hostile anti-Christian environment (secular school)
  • don’t require me to face the burdensome daily challenge of teaching French well and creatively to middle-schoolers

And in His good and wise providence, God has kept me in that job!  So I have prayed, very reluctantly, for Him to change my will, my desires.  Do you ever pray like this, a kind of ‘please God, but I’m not sure if I want you to‘ type request?  This is how I’ve been praying:

  • Father, if I have to continue to work THERE, then at least change my heart so that I more light-heartedly teach/work/serve at that school.  But, Father, I’m actually hesitant to ASK You to change my heart.  I don’t think I WANT to want that, to work contentedly there.  I just want OUT!

But God HAS changed my heart through a shift in my thinking that could ONLY have come about this way.

It was a combination of a Charles Spurgeon selection from his book Morning and Evening, a John Piper devotional one night, some scripture in a prayer I was praying through that my app Prayermate had fed me and a John Piper archived sermon the next morning.  All within about 11 hours.

One of my whiny refrains I kept replaying in my mind leading up to those 12 hours was, “My heart is just not in teaching French to middle-schoolers any more!  I’m tired of the burden. And besides, I’ll be 60 in a few months, maybe I don’t have what it takes to relate to them!”  I can get REAL good at excuse making.

By means of 3 verses, He had shifted my thoughts toward the end of the 11 hours (an evening, night and early morning), which gently but abruptly changed my desire:

  • Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.
  • Ephesians 6:7 Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
  • Colossians 3:23 Whatever you are doing, let your hearts be in your work, as a thing done for the Lord and not for men.

And just like that, with the gentle Holy Spirit memory prompting, He brought those living facts and commands into my heart and mind and something occurred instantly.

In a flash, I saw how sinful AND LAME my whininess had been.  I pictured those sins as adding to the crushing weight of sin that Jesus willingly took on for me.

The next thought was:

  •  If I can’t teach whole-heartedly for THEM, those kids, I CAN do so for God.  By His power.
  •  In fact Maria, your Father created those works at this school right now for you to do as a new creation.  He has equipped and fitted you to do just that.  And that is why He has kept you there in that job.  It has been His intention all along.  He has purposes for you to serve Him in that environment.

That was a Wednesday.  I lived with new freedom and awareness throughout the day, actually enjoying myself.

Cautiously I embraced Thursday.  Same thought-altering feelings prevailed. And Friday as well.

It’s Spring Break this week.  The days are flying and soon Monday will come.  But I’m not dreading it.  With His help, I CAN do what He has willed for me, what He commands me to do.

Here’s the truth:  what God commands, He equips us to do and we have no reasonable defense to resist.  Thanks be to God!

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