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I have heard a lot of people pray, "Lord, please break my heart with the things that break your heart." Personally, I have never prayed that prayer. Instead I have prayed a softer version of it "Lord, please give me a heart after Your heart. Change my desires to line up with Your desires, change my passions to line up with Your passions."
Recently, people have started praying that stronger version of the prayer over me when they're ministering to me. "Lord, break her heart with things that break Your heart."
The first time someone prayed that over me, I remember thinking, "Oh rats, I wish they hadn't prayed that! I don't want to have my heart broken. That sounds decidedly 'no fun.'"
But God seemed to hear their prayer anyway. Wednesday night, I had my first taste of God breaking my heart. I need to preface this story by saying that God has really drawn me into an incredible place of intimacy with Him these past few weeks. It has been absolutely wonderful being this close to Him and sensing His presense with me so tangibly and so constantly.
Today was the last day of work before the thanksgiving holiday. It is also the last day of work for me before I leave for my 17 day missions trip to India. I was working late to wrap some things up... everyone else had already left the office. Now we keep some refreshments in the office, sodas, canned juices, coffee, etc. It was pretty late (about 7:30 PM), and I still had an hour commute home. I realized that I needed some juices for my thanksgiving meal the next day. Since it was late and since there'd be such long lines at the grocery store, I grabbed 6 cans of Kerns fruit juice from the company refridgerator. I was about to leave the building. But I started feeling guilty about taking the cans of juice. The bible says, "thou shall not steal." Was it stealing to take a few cans of juice that are meant to be available for the employees (of which I am one)? I stopped to ponder this. I was not sure what to do, so I prayed about it. The Lord did not say a word to me... not one word either way. So I started out. Then I reconsidered. My thinking went like this:
"I have been enjoying such awesome intimacy with the Lord lately. If there is any doubt in my mind that this might come between Him and me, then I really don't want to do it. It's sure not worth risking that relationship/intimacy for a lousy $6.00 worth of canned juices."
So I went back into the kitchen and put the fruit juice back into the company refridgerator. Then the Lord spoke to me, and said, "Teresa, you did the right thing. I am pleased."
"Why didn't You speak to me when I asked You about it, Lord? Why did you wait until I made a decision and acted on it?"
"But I have spoken to you, Teresa. I have given you clear guidelines in My word. Remember the 8th commandment ... 'thou shall not steal'? You are to hide My word in your heart, so that you might not sin against Me. It was My word acting in your heart that convicted you about taking those cans of fruit juice and that helped you to make the right decision."
I felt really glad that I'd done the right thing. I felt relieved that I had not allowed this thing to get in the way of intimacy with Him. So, I left the office.
On my way down the elevator, I started thinking about the beggars that often line the streets in San Francisco. I fished all of my change out of my pocket and was dismayed to see that it only came to about 35 cents. (Normally I like to keep a roll of quarters and give two quarters to the first 4 or 5 people who ask me.) I instinctively knew someone was going to ask me for some money, so I kept the change in my hand.
I had gone barely a block when I saw this family walking towards me. They were reasonably dressed and looked well groomed. I figured they were lost and must have wondered into the wrong part of town, because the entire financial district was closed by now. Not a single office, shop or restraunt would be open this time of night. As as we reached each other on the street, the father turned to me and said, "Excuse me..."
I stopped and turned towards him with a smile. I expect him to ask me for directions.
"Could you spare any money? I hate to ask, but it's just before thanksgiving, and we are so needy."
I was surprised and taken back. They were so clearly a nice family and I was sure there was no deception here.. I could see the need and longing written on the faces of the wife and children. I am so in the habbit of handing out change to the many beggars that it never even occurred to me to give them real money (like maybe a $20 bill). I felt regret that all I had was 35 cents and a sense of compassion washed over me for these people. I handed the change to him and said, "I just knew someone was going to ask me for some money tonight. I am sorry, but this is all I have."
"Oh thank you, thank you very much!" He seemed genuinely greatful for the token amount. "You have a wonderful holiday now. Have a great thanksgiving."
He continued to express his gratitude as we walked away from each other. "God bless you!" I called over my shoulder to them.
I went about a block or two and then this wave of conviction came over me. Hadn't Jesus said, "Give to those who ask of you?" Technically, I had given to him. But it was such a trivial amount of change. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a bill... it was a ten dollar bill.
"Gee," I thought to myself, "I should have given this to them." I turned around to look for them, but they'd already turned on to one of the side streets and were no longer visible. I started to feel really bad. I wished I had thought to give them a 10 or a 20 instead of just that token amount of change.
"Lord," I started praying, "please bring them back across my path so I can give them more money."
"No, Teresa. You won't see them again."
All of the sudden this wave of grief washed over me. I felt like crying. I had such an abundance and their need was so real. I became painfully aware of God's heart towards the poor and of how we are supposed to have compassion on them and help them. Yet, in my selfishness, it had not even occurred to me to give them real money instead of spare change. I suddenly realized how far my heart was from God's heart in this area. And I felt so bad for this poor family. I wished I could have another opportunity to help them.
"Teresa," the Lord said, "what you are feeling now is My grief. You have greived My heart."
"Oh, Lord! I am so sorry." The grief was so intense, it was almost overwhelming. I continued walking towards the BART station. I had to wait on the platform a long time for a train to come. So I continued to talk to the Lord about this as I waited.
"Lord, are You mad at me? Are You going to withdraw Your presense from me?"
"No, Teresa. I am not mad. I am just sad. I am not going to withdraw My presence."
"How come You didn't speak to me when I was with them? If You'd told me to give them a ten or twenty dollar bill, You know I would have."
"Teresa, I told you about this eariler this evening. You are supposed to hide My word in your heart so you might not sin against Me. You already know what My word says about the poor."
"Yes, Lord. But I did not think of it at the time."
"That is why I am allowing you to feel my grief now. I want to break your heart with the things that break My heart so that your heart will be better in tune with My heart."
"Yes, Lord, please make my heart in tune with Your heart. Let me just intuitively do the same things You would do."
The train arrived, and I boarded it. I continued my conversation with the Lord.
"God, is is possible that these people were really angels in disquise, sent to test me or to teach me a lesson?"
"No, Teresa. These were real people with real need. In fact their need is desparate... they have no place to sleep tonight. They have even called out to Me -- 'God if You're real, help us tonight.' And I have heard their prayer and I will help them... I am going to provide a place for them to sleep tonight."
Somehow, God's answer made me feel worse, not better. It would have eased my conscience if they were angels sent to test instead of real people with a real need. The sense of God's grief was still on me. I started to beat myself up about it mentally. I started coming down hard on myself for not being quicker to realize I should have given them more money.
The train arrived at my station. As I was exiting the BART station, the Holy Spirit spoke to me again.
"Teresa, I convict and correct to bring change and restoration in your life. You are right to respond to My conviction and invite Me to change your heart so that you'll instictively flow with My heart on matters. This is the type of response I want from you. But you are wrong to allow condemnation to come into this. Condemnation is the enemy trying to piggyback on top of My correction. I have corrected you tonight... It is intended to draw you into closer intimacy with Me, to align your heart even more closely to mine. It is not intended to condemn you or to make you draw away or to separate you from Me in any manner. You have a choice now. You can choose to give ground to the enemy and embrace the condemnation he is starting to throw at you. Or you can choose to allow Me to embrace you and to draw you close and to restore you and to comfort you. The choice is yours. How will you respond to My correction?"
Gee, when He put it that way, it seemed like a no-brainer. "Lord, I choose to embrace You and reject the condemnation. Do You really want to restore me and to comfort me now? Are You sure you are not angry with me for blowing it?"
"Teresa, I do not correct or discipline you out of anger. I do so out of love, with the motive of restoration and reconciliation. Come be restored now."
Then a sense of His wonderful peace and love swept over me. I felt the nearness of His presense and knew that He was with me.
"Teresa, you will find that over the next few monthes, I will continue to break your heart with the things that break My heart. But it is not something for you to be afraid of. You will find it is a process where you will draw even closer into intimacy with Me and sense My presence and My goodness all over you."
I felt even more of a sense of awe at Him. His character is SO amazing. Here I go and grieve Him. Instead of getting mad at me, He shows me clearly what grieved His heart, then He reaches out and draws me close and comforts me. What an awesome God we serve!
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