Her response astonished me. Expecting her mild leading towards recognition of deeper sin in my life, my spiritual mentor spoke a truth into my spirit which never occurred to me over the course of the past few weeks of wrestling. “Your heaviness stems from the Spirit’s work in your life, as He gives you a heart after God’s heart.”
Feeling a shroud of heaviness for many weeks, my focus for Lent led me to confession and repentance. Yet rather than noticing a lighter, freer soul, these life-giving spiritual disciplines left me more down-trodden than when I began.
At times, a heart after God’s heart experiences a deeper sorrow when viewing the sin and brokenness hidden within resulting in a troubled spirit.
Rather than persisting in searching for more sin, resting in the goodness of God from a place of gratitude brought a sense of relief. My friend pointed out perhaps my heart simply mirrored God’s own sorrow over the sinful, broken condition of those He loved enough to redeem with His life.
a heart transformed
For the most part, every Christian grieves sin and brokenness in and around them. But over time, through the Spirit’s transforming work, (Romans 8:28-29) a transformed heart begins to grieve in a different way.
Rather than grieving sin and brokenness from a perspective of falling short, a heart after God’s heart grieves deeply from a place of broken fellowship with perfect Love.
During Lent, we journey to the Cross with God’s only Son, come to give His life a ransom for sin. Unfailing love personified, which knew the depths of human depravity, chose propitiation over punishment for a creation who deserved nothing less than hell.
Why? Because the depths of sorrow over our broken condition compelled Him to redeem, restore, and reconcile all which was lost.
As the Spirit transforms my heart into the image of Christ’s heart, the same sorrow over sin and brokenness groans within me for redemption.
a heart after god’s heart
“Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word.
75 I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
but I will meditate on your precepts.
79 May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.
80 May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees,
that I may not be put to shame.”
The psalmist makes his requests before God in this section of Psalm 119 on the basis of God as Creator. Walking through Lent, I found verses 73-75 especially appropriate for proper perspective.
As my Creator, and the Creator of all things, only God can help me understand His commands, so I might learn better obedience. Viewing Him as Creator, I learn to trust Him implicitly as Christ did on His journey to the Cross. Resulting in my ability to Hope in His righteous and infallible Word.
But the strongest plea comes in verse 76, “May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.”
My heart’s first petition to the heart of God seeks comfort in His unfailing love. Jesus was God’s love in human flesh, He demonstrated His love for the Father by His obedience, and no doubt found comfort in that love as He faced the Cross.
Slipping from comfort in God’s unfailing love to God’s great compassion, or mercy, the psalmist brings my heart’s second petition to the heart of God in verse 77, “Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.”
Jeremiah echoes the beauty and life-giving properties of God’s mercies in Lamentations 3:22-24. I have life because God’s mercies come new every morning, He alone is my portion!
Resting in God’s unfailing love, while living in the light of His incredible mercies, the psalmist moves to ask for my heart’s third petition in verse 78, “May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts.”
Acknowledging God as Creator and therefore righteous Judge, coupled with experiencing His unfailing love and mercy, keeps me in a place of complete trust in His sovereign will.
Forsaking my own fallible judgmental attitude, and the need for seeing justice in unfair circumstances, I petition and trust God for vindication.
The experience of God’s unfailing love, mercy, and vindication urges the psalmist to seek my heart’s fourth petition in verse 79, “May those who fear you turn to me, those who understand your statutes.”
Another psalm reminds me of the blessing of dwelling in the presence of other believers (Psalm 133:1) which is precisely what the writer of Psalm 119 expresses in verse 79.
How my heart longs for the presence of other believers who love God’s Word, for there I experience His Presence too.
Weaving through God’s unfailing love, inexhaustible mercy, sovereign righteousness, and Presence amid the believers, the psalmist arrives at my heart’s last petition in verse 80, “May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.”
A heart after God’s heart loves and obeys His Word, which transforms my heart to one which grieves sin as much as God. Though unable to remain completely sinless in my current fleshly body, Christ’s atonement on the Cross secured my faultless condition before the Throne of God. (Jude 1:24)
living life in pursuit of god’s heart
From Advent through Lent we walk with Jesus on God’s redemptive journey which must go through the Cross. Revealing the Father’s love to all mankind, Jesus taught, healed, and physically and spiritually cleansed all who came to Him.
Ultimately driven by a sorrow only perfect love knows deeply, He bore the weight of the world’s sin upon the altar of atonement, paying the ransom with His own blood.
So that I might find comfort in God’s unfailing love, life in His incredible mercy, vindication through His righteous judgment, enjoy the fellowship of the saints, and be presented before the Throne of God faultless.
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