I think sometimes we get so focused on where we need to “get it right” that we forget to stop and thank the Lord for the growth and change that he has produced in our lives.
One of the things about me that has bothered me for a long time is how often I forget the compassion that I had. For example. I’ll hear something on the radio or read something online that rips my heart out, something like child sex trafficking, and I’ll get enraged (rightfully so) and often cry and then pray earnestly and passionately for what I’ve just heard. But by dinner that night I’ve completely forgotten about it. And if it does come to mind during dinner, heaven forbid, I quickly put it out of my mind. I’ve already had my moment, I’ve already prayed, I felt more spiritual after, but let’s not revisit it again. It’s too much.
Something that I’ve been praying for for a long time now is that Matt and I would love the things that God loves and hate the things that he hates. I also pray that God would produce in us a love for him that supersedes everything else that shows itself in humble obedience and a heart like his. Well, I’m no Bible scholar, but I know God’s compassion doesn’t run out by dinnertime.
I’ve become so frustrated before because I don’t want my compassion to be fake or just conjured up in a moment of emotionalism, you know? But here’s a mystery of prayer – we pray and we pray and we pray and we don’t often see immediate change or answers, but we keep praying anyways. And it’s amazing to look back and see how God changed our hearts, matured our faith, grew us up and we didn’t even know it (I didn’t even see it coming, man!).
A couple weekends ago we had a women’s conference at our church with Carol Kent. (Amazing.) After the last session we had a time of prayer, and I was one of the people stationed at the front if anyone wanted somebody to pray with. I saw a girl praying who I knew and I went to pray with her. But before I could utter anything more than “Lord” I started to cry. The Lord completely broke my heart for her. I had ran (not literally) to her in my spiritual undies superman costume, ready to impart a spiritual energy drink and instead I literally could not get more than one word out. And simultaneously while I hugged her and cried with her, I desperately thought, Lord, please, don’t let this just be a “moment.” I want this to be real. I want to really be like You.
This week I was driving down a busy street and she came to mind again. And guess what? I still cared. I still had compassion for her. It wasn’t about me this time, and about feeling like I’d done a job well. And I don’t mean to imply that we gauge our spiritual growth by how we feel. Heavens, no. But I knew that I knew that deep inside I was different. Something was different. The Lord is changing me. Day after day, week after week, year after year.
Now when I hear about sex trafficking, I don’t quickly put it out of my mind (most of the time). I think, Lord, what can we do? And not in the fatalist sense, but in the literal sense. I pray for those cruelly hurt, for their rescue. I ache deeply for them. I let myself be scarred by their stories.
So yes, I have a lot to “get right.” But you know what? I can’t do it. I have to get off my ridiculous hamster wheel of good-willed, good-intentioned “faith” and confess to the Lord again and again that I can’t do it. Only he can change my heart and produce his spirit in me. But I’m willing. Lord, I am so willing. And just like I heard yesterday on the radio, I am not the good news, Jesus is.