Monday, March 21, 2016

Do you love Me more than these?

Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
~John 21:15 NKJV~


“Do you love Me more than these?”

“Do you love Me enough to risk walking away from your comfort zone? Surrendering all of your dreams, your desires, your plans into My hands? Laying them down at My feet in exchange for all that I have got in store for you?”

“Do you love Me more than t h e s e ?”

We all have our own “these.” What is it that is pulling your heart, your mind, your focus away from Jesus?

~~ * ~~

When that question was first posed to me, my immediate reaction was to deny my “these.” To shove all of my “these” into the most secret places of my heart, in hopes that no one would see the things that took God’s place on the throne of my heart. And while I was able to deceive everyone around me – including myself – I could not deceive the One who created my heart. As hard as I was working to clutter the secret places of my heart with “these,” God was working just as hard to cleanse my heart of the things that were distracting me from participating in authentic, heartfelt worship. Eventually, God won out, and a while later, I returned to answer the question, pulling out of the hidden places my “these” and truly laying them down at Jesus’ feet for the very first time. Putting pen to paper, these are the words I wrote a mere four months ago::


What is it that is pulling your heart, your mind, your focus away from Jesus?

à My desire for love in a relationship is pulling my heart towards the guys around me.
à My recent breakup is pulling my mind to question my worth, tearing away at my confidence piece by piece.
à My longing to feel wanted is pulling my focus towards anyone who shows me any form of attention.

Jesus,
In my desire for love, my search for self-worth, and my longing for security, I pray that You reveal Yourself to me in ways that prove that You alone are the Lover of my soul, the Decider of my worth, and the Pursuer of my heart.


Writing those words, I was fully prepared to lay my desires down at Christ’s feet, because after years of longing and praying and wrestling with God regarding my hopeless romantic heart’s desire for Prince Charming, I was angry, hurt, self-conscious, and tired.

What I was not prepared for was God’s response to my silent, broken prayer. A response that would come with time, but when it did come, would cleanse my soul, opening my heart and my mind to a possibility that I had never allowed myself to consider.


On November 10, when I prayed that broken prayer, cleaning out the secret places of my heart and offering them to God, I opened the door to experience God’s presence in a way that would transform my desires, my heart, and my life.

It was just a few days later I received the answer to my prayer, sitting in my bed in my dorm room, pajamas on, messy bun adorning the top of my head, no make up on, and a book in my hand. The book was Pretense by Lori Wick. This huge 700-page book that my mama was making me read that really didn’t have much of a plot, but somehow left me hooked from the very first page. It was that night, when all was quiet and still, I experienced the very real voice of Christ speaking to me through the pages of a book.


“If He’s the one and only God of the universe, then He does have the right to expect me to . . . not be angry at Him because He’s given someone special to my sister but decided I must wait. . . . Now all I can say to God is, how could You have forgotten me?” Mackenzie cried.

“He hasn’t,” Cria said softly. “God knows your heart, Micki. He could very well have put this desire in you. If He did, He’ll bring someone. Maybe the man won’t walk up and say ‘I love you, Mackenzie,’ but God is always faithful. His faithfulness doesn’t always look the way we expect it to, but He’s promised to finish the work He’s started in us, and He will do it. I can’t promise you that you will not be alone in this life – you might be – but if God asks that of you, He will be sufficient.”


Reading that, I was drawn to just how similar Mackenzie and I were. How many times had a cried out to God because I was so sure He had given everyone around me a special someone but had simply forgotten about me? How many times had I fallen to my knees, overwhelmed by the loneliness I felt, and begged God to send my Prince Charming soon? How many times had I watched a young couple walk hand-in-hand, exchange a sweet kiss, glance at each other with shy ecstasy, or do other couple-y stuff, and jealously pray that I, too, could experience that kind of love?

How many times had I been convinced that God had forgotten about me?

And then, as I read Cria’s frank response, its truth brought broken tears to my eyes. One part in particular stood out to me, and even as I tried to ignore it, God had other plans. Plans to reveal Himself to me in a way that would scare, disappoint, and anger me at first…

“I can’t promise you that you will not be alone in this life –
you might be . . .”

The truth of that statement broke my heart. I might be alone in this life. When I read that, I’ll be honest, I was angry. How could someone who had such a deep desire to love and be loved be called to stay single? How could God be so cruel as to do that to someone? And surely He was not calling me to a life of singleness? Me, Lord? Single? But even as I turned these questions over in my mind, wrestling with the Lord over my future love life, God, lavishing grace upon grace, was in the process of answering my November 10th prayer, proving that He alone is the Lover of my Soul and Pursuer of my heart.



Sure enough, it was only a matter of days before my heart was cleansed and renewed. In the secret-most places of my heart, I had buried my desire for a man’s love, my lack of confidence due to a lack of man’s interest, and my longing to feel wanted by man. And it was these dark, hidden desires of my heart that Jesus took one-by-one and transformed them into holy desires that He could use for His kingdom. Suddenly, as I pulled Lori Wick’s Pretense off my bookshelf once again and re-read that dreaded passage, instead of focusing on the “you might be alone” part, I trained my eyes and my heart on the part that followed…

“. . . But if God asks that of you, He will be sufficient.”

All of a sudden, I recognized the beautiful promise, and as I opened my heart to the possibility, my fear was transformed to faith, my disappointment to joy, and my anger to freedom. All of a sudden, as I truly placed my future at God’s feet, my desires were transformed.

Instead of desiring the love of a man, I desired the love of Love Himself.
Instead of measuring my worth by the interest of the guys around me, I measured it by how Christ looked at me.
Instead of longing to feel wanted by man, I longed to be wanted by God.

Rather than trying to fill the hole of my heart up with temporary pleasures and a love that would ultimately disappoint, I yearned to fill it up with a Love that was perfect, a Love that was faithful, and a Love that was pure. I filled the hole of my soul up with Jesus Christ.


Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

“Do you love Me more than these?”

“Do you love Me enough to risk walking away from your comfort zone? Surrendering all of your dreams, your desires, your plans into My hands? Laying them down at My feet in exchange for all that I have got in store for you?”

“Do you love Me more than t h e s e ?”

As I invited Jesus into the secret places of my heart and allowed Him to truly cleanse me of my “these,” I experienced the transformative presence of the Lord. And it was more freeing and beautiful than anything I had ever known, because for the first time in my life, I realized and accepted the fact that there is no guarantee that God will bring a man into my life and into my heart, and I can honestly say that I am okay with that. Because now the desire of my heart is not for a man’s love, but for my Lord’s love.

And as long as I have Jesus,
There is nothing more I need.