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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Access to the Excess

Deuteronomy 30:6 (New International Version)
“The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”

I’m the kind of girl who gets a paper cut and is sure gangrene is setting in. Perhaps it has to do with all of the war games I was subject to as a little child with two younger brothers. Or perhaps it has to do with the fact that when you have two younger yet much stronger brothers you live life thinking, “This could be my last day.” I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

What I have figured out is rather simple: I don’t like pain.

The problem with my deep dislike for pain is my supreme stubbornness. This presented quite a dilemma for my brothers during most sibling activities growing up. To this day, if one of my brothers bends my hands back in an effort to make me say “uncle” I would rather my fingers break off one by one than forfeit and whisper that dreaded word. I don’t like pain but I disdain losing more.

Hence my puzzling relationship with the Lord. You see, for years, it was my belief that if one loves Christ that one not only lives pain-free but also lives in constant scoreboard brilliance.

You can imagine my horror when sickness came knocking on my door and I seemed to experience loss after loss. Now picture my sincere confusion when I felt the Lord telling me it was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn His decrees! (Psalm 119:71)

Deuteronomy 30:6 tells us, “The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants…” The Message Bible says, “GOD, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children's hearts…”

A few years ago this verse was the motto of my life. I’d wake up in the morning and it would be running through my mind. I just knew something was being ‘cut out’ and let me tell you, the process was anything but enjoyable. So, I’d walk around with this knowing that something was being cut out but without the understanding of why I felt so uncomfortable!

It wasn’t until a friend of mine boldly spoke, “Kristen, circumcision hurts!” that everything began to click! How could I have missed that? Circumcision of the heart just like circumcision of the flesh hurts! Seriously intrigued I spoke this to the Lord and I felt Him nodding in approval. The process was going to hurt a bit.

The Israel of Deuteronomy had a stubborn issue just like me. Actually, again and again in Scripture there are accounts of God telling the people their hearts needed to be circumcised. Acts 7:51 pinpoints the excess issue: “You stubborn and stiff-necked people, still heathen and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always actively resisting the Holy Spirit. As your forefathers [were], so you [are and so you do]!”

Do not forget Christ is about activity. Any time we get complacent and stagnant He is sure to swoop in with the breath of His Spirit and begin actively torching house. I love this Acts 7 treasure, it’s almost as if Christ is speaking, “You stubborn girl! Stop actively resisting me!”

Which brings me to my next questions: What would happen if we actively allowed Christ access to the excess areas of our hearts? What if we dropped our notions of pain-free/touchdown dance Christianity and embraced Christ’s scalpel-like precision work?

I cannot beg you more to check out Deuteronomy 30:6 for yourself. The next piece of the verse answers our questions of why. Why, Jesus, are you cutting away the excess? Why are you allowing circumstances of pain to remove my stubbornness? Why is this lesson necessary?

“So that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.” The Message version, again, speaks with such awesome accuracy, “freeing you to love GOD, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live.”

I challenge us to lay down our pre-conceived impressions of who Christ should be and stop resisting the work of the Spirit. Let us with unveiled faces approach Him and in humility welcome His open heart surgery.

Speaking from experience, there is no life I would rather live than this life of devoted love in whole heart and soul. This is real life…not some distant idea of what it should be. Only Christ could cut the excess of my heart away and somehow manage to make more room for Himself.

I pray He will operate on you as well.

Kristen writes daily at {dancing} in the margins and also at Exemplify Online. She welcomes you to stop by!

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Blogger Denise said...

So beautiful, thank you.

April 25, 2009 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger a woman found said...

He is! What I find hard right now is that He uses me as a tool in His hand to do some of that "circumcision" work in my sons' lives. I prayerfully approach each othose "cutting" times asking Him to steady my hand... this is fine-tuned surgery He does in us with the sharp sword of His word. It hurts, no doubt. But it also heals.

Thanks for sharing this!

April 25, 2009 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Carmen said...

I describe it often as the Two-Edged Sword of
Grace and Truth (which is the Mashiach's Love). His Truth hurts while His Grace then heals.

Shalom aleichem...

April 25, 2009 at 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kristen, I've had this in my reader for 4 days trying to come up with a response and words are just failing me. This might be the best devotional I've ever read.

April 29, 2009 at 1:57 PM  

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