It’s almost February … Almost V-day. I’ve dreaded Valentine’s Day for so many years, and this one started out per the norm, with the usual mixture of dread and anticipation. All the singles out there know what I’m talking about … sure you’re going to spend it alone, but slightly hopeful that you might trip into a hottie somewhere, like they do in the movies, and be married a year later. Because people fall in love in February, right?
So, I was trying to pray on the way to work this morning, but also thinking about this guy I have a crush on, which was really weird. I was thanking the Lord for being my companion, all the while thinking about this guy and kinda wishing … And I realized that the last seven years of my life have been a lot like this. I’ve talked about the Lord being my husband, worshipped him from this place of marital security and adored him as the Lover of my Soul, all the while praying for a husband. And I’ve spent Valentine’s Day defiantly ignoring all human emotions, and absorbing myself in worship and prayer to fend off deep feelings of insecurity and morbid self-loathing because deep down inside, I’m very certain that something must be wrong with me or I’d be happily married by now.
The irony of this disconnect finally hit me full force this morning. I have been allowing the Lord to pursue me these past years, reveling in his attention but hardly sustaining eye contact for very long before my wandering heart drags my attention away to the really cute guy in aisle four. Sure, I have moments of reciprocity where Jesus knows I’m totally sold out and into Him. But I also have (many) moments of staring straight through him, entertaining the tug of war between satisfaction and longing.
In light of this illumination, I decided that this year, I will not be complacent and let emotions toss me to and fro. I’m going to be proactive in my relationship with the Lord. I’ve let him pursue me and responded half-heartedly to his intense affections. This year, I am going pursue him. Not the guy in aisle four, but Jesus. I’m going to capture the heart of my First Love. I’m going to woo Him just as intentionally as He woos me. Starting now. And this Valentine’s day, I imagine, is going to be the first of its kind.
I was immersed in worship the other day, exalting the Lord and asking him to take his place on the throne in my heart and mind. Lately, I have been distracted by many things, and even bitter about a few, and giving things way too much time and attention. Exalting them above the Lord, as it turns out when you allow your focus to make something in your life so much bigger than God. So in my worship, I was urging the Lord to take back his rightful place in my heart, and he showed me something that grieved me: it was Jesus, walking a thin path through broken and torn down idols to get to his throne.
There’s only one place for an idol to go in our lives, and that’s straight to the throne room. There, it competes with other things to become our number one priority. If we aren’t careful, the throne room of our hearts, made to be inhabited by Christ himself, is full of other useless things. It begins to look more like a storage room than a throne room. And we ask Jesus continually to wade through our filth to take his rightful place …
I’m sorry. I’m sorry there is so much in me that clutters my heart and makes it uninviting. I’m sorry you have to wade through all these other things that I have given my devotion to. I’m sorry your throne is there, among the ruins of my wants, reminding you of my wanderings. And I’ve asked you to come in and take your place, but not taken the time to clean out my heart first. Now I find myself in the awkward position of asking you to help me, to remove these idols and destroy them, knowing you are gracious enough to do it, but humiliated that you must because without you, I can’t. You’re so precious, Lord. So longsuffering. So loving and kind. There is truly none like you. Let me love you with all of my heart, Lord, not just the empty spaces between these idols.
There’s a movement happening in our area. An initiative to merge the youth ministries from various churches into a community-wide body of Christ instead of a bunch of small islands of ministry operating separately. There are several churches actively involved, some on the fringe and others still waiting to see some action before they commit.
Ok, so the initiative has struggled. A lot. I was talking to another minister a week or so ago and he offered this explanation: “Yeah, so-and-so tried to be involved with it, but it always ends up being a “Harvest” thing, instead of a “One Initiative thing.”
Let me fill you in: Harvest is a large church in our area with a lot to offer our community. If we’re talking about the story of the talents, Harvest is the guy with five doing his best to earn back more. They have incredible multimedia capabilities and a team of people wholly dedicated to ministry. They get heavily involved with everything because they have the talents, the money, and the equipment necessary to do what God has called us all to do. So when we do something, Harvest is all in. They bring their five talents, the rest of us bring our two and as a group of ministers, we do our best to bring teens closer to God.
This conversation came back to me the other day on my drive to work. The Holy Spirit said to me, “It is supposed to be a harvest thing. As in, ‘the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord, therefore, to send our workers into his harvest field. (Matthew 9:37-38)” Then He impressed on me this: there’s only one field. It’s not the Catholics, or the Protestants. The Baptists or AGs or non-denominationals. It’s the Lord’s. And He has called workers to work the field. He’s given us various talents, various abilities and even various capacities to work it. Some of us have been blessed to partner with others in working the field. When I envision this field, it looks a lot like a bunch of people laboring side by side without boundaries, all doing the same thing to the best of their abilities. The weak helping the strong. The work getting done. Yes, it is a harvest thing. For the glory of God, not for any one person, church or denomination. And when we all get that, we will see the fields white, hear the call to work it and reap souls unto salvation.