I feel like the start of a new season always leaves space for reflection for me. Who was I in the past season? What things do I want to be different moving forward? The return to school and the end of summer has always felt like the perfect start of a new year to me, more so than January’s new year resolutions.
Even though this is one of the first times in a long time that I’m not directly part of an academic year, I’m still showing up to reflect and make some goals. I typically spend time with the Lord every fall, asking for direction and heart change and this year is no exception. The last few years it has been in the form of four words. I still don’t know what mine are for this year, but I’m asking for them. In the meantime, I’m working on showing up and asking these questions: Who do I want to be? What do I want?
Here’s how far my reflection has gotten me-
I want a heart that is full of compassion for the refugees without a home, fleeing for their lives.
I want courage to love hard and deep and well.
I want to serve the people Jesus has given me in this season with a glad heart.
I want as many or as few babies as Jesus wants for our family to love and educate.
I want to live where Jesus can use me best.
I want to be grateful for the gifts Jesus has given me.
I want to be a willing giver and receiver of grace.
I want to be healthy and a good steward of my body.
But when it comes down to action, do I still want those things? I say I do, but when it is time to make the move, offer forgiveness, look for the good, run up a hill, wake up early, am I still saying yes?
Tim Keller says that I never do anything but what I most want to do. I may say I want certain things, but my actions are proof of my heart’s condition. I’m doing what I really believe. I’m acting out of what I truly want most of all.
So often I most want to be in control.
I most want to serve myself.
I most want to look good, but not actually be good.
I most want to be served, not serve.
I most want to live where I enjoy the weather and the people the most.
I most want to be comfortable.
I most want to eat sugar and fat and never work out.
We went to the shore this weekend, and as I walked along the boardwalk, I looked around me and thought about the refugees. People watching abounds at a busy place like the beach. I wondered about what it would be like to add a few hundred Syrians to the mix of people I saw. I thought about the addition of a Syrian restaurant to the boardwalk. I thought about how it would feel to hear Arabic spoken around me and have English classes held at my church. I thought about hosting a family who didn’t speak English and how challenging that would be for me. I want to help the refugees, but it does feel different when I think about how it might impact me. Do I still want that compassion heart when I start to realize what it will cost me?
I tell Jesus that I want what he wants. I ask him to transform my heart. I pray to look more like him. I ask him to draw me closer. Ripen my wisdom. Deepen my peace. Increase my courage.
But when push comes to shove, my heart starts to question if I made the right call.
Do I really want to help refugees if it is going to cost me?
Do I really want what Jesus wants when it takes me far away from people I love?
Do I really want the life Jesus is giving me when it replaces comfort with suffering and pain?
My timid heart answers, “yes.” I know I won’t regret following Jesus. But I am afraid. I’m afraid of what following Jesus will cost me.
“Other seeds fell on rocky ground where they did not have much soil. They sprang up quickly because the soil was not deep.—Matt 13:5 NET
Shallow! It would seem from the teaching of this parable that we have something to do with the soil. The fruitful seed fell into “good and honest hearts.” I suppose the shallow people are the soil without much earth—those who have no real purpose, are moved by a tender appeal, a good sermon, a pathetic melody, and at first it looks as if they would amount to something; but not much earth—no depth, no deep, honest purpose, no earnest desire to know duty in order to do it. Let us look after the soil of our hearts.
When a Roman soldier was told by his guide that if he insisted on taking a certain journey it would probably be fatal, he answered, “It is necessary for me to go; it is not necessary for me to live.”
This was depth. When we are convicted something like that we shall come to something. The shallow nature lives in its impulses, its impressions, its intuitions, its instincts, and very largely its surroundings. The profound character looks beyond all these, and moves steadily on, sailing past all storms and clouds into the clear sunshine which is always on the other side, and waiting for the afterwards which always brings the reversion of sorrow, seeming defeat and failure.
When God has deepened us, then He can give us His deeper truths, His profoundest secrets, and His mightier trusts. Lord, lead me into the depths of Thy life and save me from a shallow experience!”
My prayers these days are to be saved from a shallow existence. I need help to see beyond the surface and the feelings. I want a heart that looks to who Jesus is and who I’m becoming, instead of this greedy, selfish heart that is always counting what it is costing me to follow him. I see myself in Judas who can only see how much the perfume cost, not the beauty in the sacrificial gift. I don’t want to be counting the cost anymore. I long to be saved from a shallow and comfortable existence.
I’m still afraid, but I’m asking for to be saved from my own shallow heart. I’m asking for the deeper truths, the profoundest secrets and the mightier trusts. I’m asking for what I most want to change from greed to grace.
I’m asking for a heart that is full of compassion for the refugees without a home, fleeing for their lives.
I’m asking for courage to love hard and deep and well.
I’m asking to serve the people Jesus has given me in this season with a glad heart.
I’m asking for as many or as few babies as Jesus wants for our family to love and educate.
I’m asking to live where Jesus can use me best.
I’m asking to be grateful for the gifts Jesus has given me.
I’m asking for the help to be a willing giver and receiver of grace.
I’m asking for a better story than any I could tell for myself.