Oh, For a Heart Like the Mediterranean

I spent the summer before my senior year of college working with an expat couple on the island of Sicily, south of Italy. (Suffering for Jesus, I know.) Part of my job description as an assistant pre-school teacher at the church school was to accompany the kiddos to the beach and make sure they didn’t drown in the Mediterranean Sea. It was not the teachers’ favorite outing for sure; we all tried to keep calm and just get everyone back in one piece.

Those clear, blue waters, though! With a 3-year old on each hip, I would wade out until I could safely keep standing without all of us being washed away. Looking down, I could see each little pebble in the sand under my toes. Everywhere around me and all the way to the horizon, the surface of that pure water sparkled like diamonds under the direct rays of sunlight.

My heart is nothing like the pure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Most days when I peer into the depths, it’s more like I’m staring into the murky, muddy waters of a rural Nebraska creek after heavy rains have brought all the silt to the surface. I question my motives, the underbelly of my intentions and try to discern why certain feelings are bubbling up to the top seemingly out of nowhere.

I know I’m not the only one. Jeremiah cuts right to the chase on this topic, in chapter 17 verse 9: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”

I like to think we’re better than that, this group of humans filling the earth. Yet I look around at the people in my context and see so much sadness and the results of a wicked heart. I hear stories of the abuse of power, and hopelessly watch a marital conflict escalate to brick-throwing right outside my window. Acid attacks and stabbings fill the news, and one neighbor gossips about the other outside my gate.

And then there’s me.

I have a view of the riverfront from my favorite coffee shop couch. There’s a homeless woman picking through the trash most days I’m there, eating someone’s leftover rice. She’s lost most of her hair and is wrapped only in a monk’s saffron robe or cast-off clothing reduced to rags. Out of the murky depths of my heart comes judgment. Disdain, embarrassment and sadness bubble to the surface first ahead of compassion and a desire for justice to be done. Jesus said that the pure in heart are blessed, but how is that blessing possible for this deceitful heart of mine?

I can’t purify my heart on my own without the tender and loving guidance and correction of my Heavenly Father. He scoops out a handful of the silt-filled wicked water of my heart, revealing the areas that need His help. Then I must stop clinging to control and humble myself before Him.

This is part of the process, the journey of purification that He longs to do in our lives. Despite how much He knows about our secret motives and crazy emotions, He is still absolutely in love with His daughters. He came to save us, to save the people we serve among, so that in His perfect and pure sinlessness we might be declared righteous.

Instead of bemoaning my hopeless state, I’m running into His caring arms and asking for His purifying, sanctifying grace to make my heart sparkle, just like the Mediterranean.

What has God been using in your life lately to purify you? How has His grace overwhelmed you and sustained you through those purifying seasons?

Photo by MontyLov on Unsplash

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2 Comments

  1. Karen C April 3, 2018

    Spot on! I’ve been memorizing John 14-17 for an embarrassing amount of time. The key to abiding in the Vine and thus bearing fruit in our lives is obedience–immediate and total. Over and over Jesus stresses this with his disciples. But how quick I am to delay, rationalize, or downright refuse what He lays before me through various ways. Verse 13 of chapter 14 has remained with me for weeks, “but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.” In the beginning I was convicted by Jesus’ example– as the Father commanded. Ouch, ouch, ouch!

    Then weeks later while reviewing the same verse [because it takes me that long to keep a verse in this scattered brain!], God gently showed me Jesus’ motivation for obedience–to show His love for the Father. Oh, oh, oh! It’s not just outward purification that the Father yearns for His children but inward motivation as well.What a privilege before me to be able to show to the world my love for the Father–obedience!

    1. Karen C April 3, 2018

      Well, that was a fail at thinking I knew how to do HTML! It’s been awhile. I meant to put in bold the word ‘exactly’, but what my programing did is remove it entirely. Then I couldn’t redo my comment. Ah well. So here is where ‘exactly’ fits in the above comment: “In the beginning I was convicted by Jesus’ example–EXACTLY as the Father command. Ouch, ouch, ouch!

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