My dear friend, Linda Evans Shepherd, author, speaker, and founder of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, is a wise mentor and encourager. She has given me permission to share some of those words with you today.
“After a word from the Lord, [a friend] and I have been working hard to ‘remove the sin that hinders.’ It’s a good word, a word that requires a thorough search of one’s heart. I’ve searched and I continue to do so. And as I’ve confessed revealed sins, I’ve seen God show up. Today, as I was reading the book, The Stronghold of God by Francis Frangipane, I read this:
‘God has always been more concerned with the condition of our hearts than the activity of our hands…What we become to Him is far more consequential than all we shall ever do for Him. He wants our love and companionship. Indeed the Scriptures tell us that he ‘jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’ (James 4:5). Thus, if our devotion to our task exceeds our devotion to Him, He will personally hinder our success. It is out of love that God delivers us from the unanointed momentum of our zeal. He intentionally dries up our vigor. The Lord insists that our success not originate from our strength but from our union with Him.’
Wow, what powerful words. How careful we must be not to worship our work, but to seek instead a way to more powerfully abide with Christ.”
I have to tell you, friends, this passage spoke volumes to me. Even though we seek to serve Him with everything we do, it’s so easy to get caught up in the activity of the hands and forget the condition of our hearts. I admit it. Sometimes I struggle by allowing the job to come before the joy of knowing Him intimately; the project to come before the purification of my heart; the calendar to come before the call to holiness.
I confess my sin to you today. But more importantly, I confess it to my Father. Like David, I cry:
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you. Psalm 51:10-13
Then. Then I will teach others. Not before the cleansing and the renewing and restoring. But after. After everything else is in order…only then can I teach others about His mercy, His goodness, and His grace.
Oh God, create in me a clean heart in 2015!