“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18
The Christian researcher, George Barna, recently expressed his observation after 30 years of research regarding the most significant influences on a person’s renovation in faith. He has noticed that most substantial growth in a believer happens when a person is in an intentional spiritual relationship and when a person lives through hardship. I too have witnessed this dynamic. In fact, as I have often affirmed that beyond the traditional means of grace and spiritual disciplines in faith, the three most dynamic propellments in faith are failure, suffering and the most dynamic of them all – witnessing the suffering of those you love the most. In such a state, you find yourself collapsed before the throne of God in persistent and passionate prayer and intercession. And it is in this desperate posture that God is given permission to engage His love and transformation in all that is beautiful and good. It is at the Cross that God suffered while at the same time witnessed the suffering of His Son. He has gone before us in this dimension of love beyond what we could ever imagine (Hebrews 2:14-18).
It is this experience that I believe Jesus was referring to in His discourse on the hills above Capernaum. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3-5) And it is in this type of heart where God dwells most powerfully – “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15) Yet the mystery of it all is that we can’t strive and force our hearts into this position of contrition. It is only a work that God enables within His grace.
Now here is the conclusion of it all. Life and faith are found in relationship with Jesus. God desires for us to return to our initial created order within His image as we surrender to His Gospel. We are transformed by grace as He enables us to partake of His intimate love. And it is this place of intimate love that we live and move and have our being. We don’t have to try to be broken and humble. These virtues grow within the shadow of Jesus’ love for us as His love crushes our ego. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if Go so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1. John 4:10-11).
Here’s my encouragement for you today. No matter what comes your way, no matter how painful or pleasurable, embrace it within the saturation of the intimate love of Jesus Christ. It is there you will be impelled to taste of the sweetest joys and graces of life, not matter what your circumstances may dictate. It is there that God is most satisfied as our contentment is fixed completely on Him. My Tweet for today was, “To be fully surrendered to God in love and to give up your will to Jesus is true freedom indeed.” Happy True Independence Day! To be set free from self, the world and the devil is independence indeed.