A Change of Heart

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Who likes change? Anyone? Anyone?! I do—if it is a certain type, that is. I like heart change.

There was a time when I needed to have a change of heart. I was so burned out, worn out, stressed out, stretched out, and flat laid out that my heart had become a stone. I was still living and breathing, yet I was cold and dead and numb. But I came across the words of scripture in Ezekiel 36:26 (KJV) which say, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” I began to cry out for God to change my heart. And He did. But not in the way I ever imagined, nor in the way I hoped things would go. I had some open-heart surgery, spiritually speaking. Everything was laid out before God; nothing was hidden from Him. Yes, He saw into the depths of my heart, and what He saw there was not pretty. God had changed my heart once before, from a spiritually dead one to a fully alive one at the point of my salvation, but now I needed some remodeling. At times I still do. So, He went to work in ways only He could, and before I knew it, I had a heart of flesh again.

Back then, it was definitely time for a change, but sometimes still today it is, too. Sometimes I need a change of attitude. Sometimes I need a change of direction. Sometimes I need a change in my motivational level where I have the fortitude and the gumption to keep on keeping on when every cell in my body cries out that it wants to quit. I need to be changed into the image of Christ, to move from my present state into an ever-changing one—one that becomes more and more like Him. This is the essence of growth.

I follow His lead, I follow His example, I follow His commandments—even if all of these require change—change in my thoughts, my hopes, and my dreams; change in how I live life and how I do my routine; change in where I go and how I spend my resources; change in my perspective and change in my priorities.

I have a change of heart when my broken heart becomes a healed heart. I remember His promises, and they soothe my pain. I receive His forgiveness, and He makes me whole. I release the anger and the bitterness, and the gaping hole they left is stitched back together with His divine comfort.

I have a change of heart when I move from being selfish to being generous. I remember it is more blessed to give than receive. I count my blessings and realize all I have comes from His hand. I remember what Jesus gave for me—His life, forgiveness, and eternal life.

I have a change of heart when my restless heart becomes a peaceful one. This happens when I trust His heart, not mine. His ways and timing and thoughts are above mine and perfect. His words “fear not” are not advice or a suggestion, rather they are a command. I am directed to trust Him rather than myself. I am called to focus on the One who has all power and authority. When I listen to Him speak peace over my life, my quivering heart becomes still.

I have a change of heart when I move from having a joyless heart to a joyful one. When I shift my focus to what truly matters, I find joy. This joy is like medicine in my broken life. Heavy circumstances bring heavy hearts, but these hearts can be lightened when they are filled with His hope. Even if the circumstances don’t change, I can. The joy of the Lord becomes my strength.

I have a change of heart when I move from being dissatisfied to content. Rather than trying to skip particular seasons of life, I seek to accomplish God’s purposes in them. Rather than rush through, I realize what I have in Him right now spiritually is more than anything I could ever gain materially. I am learning to be content in whatsoever state I am in.

I have a change of heart when I move from pursuing the desires of my heart to pursuing the desires of His. I pursue Him rather than me. I seek His glory rather than mine. I seek to do His will rather than my own. I focus on the eternal rather than the temporal so that I might leave His love and legacy in the hearts and minds of those I encounter.

Yes, I like change—not for the sake of change itself, but for the end result. For when I draw near to God, He draws near to me. And that changes everything.

 

Text and image copyright Francee Strain, October 24, 2018

Strong to the Core

Well, it’s a new year. I have made a new year’s resolution: I am going to work on strengthening my core. Those flabby parts and over-sized sections that ought not to be there–those are my focus. The weakness that resides within me–I am going to replace it with strength. I have a great personal trainer lined up for the task, and I have a willing spirit. Ready. Set. Go to Jesus.

Yes, I am going to be trained by Jesus. I need to work on the core of my spirit. The neglect of the previous year has caused me to grow flabby. Unwanted things like apathy, pride, anger, and fear have grown in size. As I have neglected to deal with these problems, not removing them and replacing them with better things like love, forgiveness, fervency, and boldness, I have grown weak.

I am my own worst enemy. If I do not wake up early enough to go to the gym before heading out the door to work, the slippery slope of neglect begins, because often by the end of the workday and the home tasks, I am too tired. I tell myself I will try and do better tomorrow, but tomorrow usually never finds me doing so. Change takes desire and commitment, time and attention, a want-to and a know-how. I want to. He knows how. So let’s do this!

I look to my trainer, and I ask Him what I need to do. He tells me to approach Him and watch what He does, and then follow His example. I come to Him, trusting in His perfect knowledge and unfailing skill. He is kind, loving, and patient. He forgives me when I fail. He walks right along beside me, offering encouragement and further instructions. I take a step forward, and then another, and then another. And before I know it, I realize this is what I was made to do and I am becoming who I was made to be.

My focus changes.  My tone changes.  My ability changes. I mature as I remain teachable. Soon, I have a passion for rising up to begin my day by being infused with strength. When my day comes to an end, I look forward to more of His presence beside me tomorrow. I close my eyes in sleep, and I know in my core that I am strong because of the strength that has been placed within me by the hand of God.

“[T]hat He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21 (NKJV)

By: Francee Strain, January 12, 2018

Repurposed Lives

Repurposed lives are redirected lives. I would be going about life in one way (independently), at one pace (fast), in one manner (efficiently), with one aim and one goal, and suddenly, my life would get redirected. Sometimes this would happen because of my own doings and sometimes because of the world we live in, but this one particular time, it was because my health failed. My way, my pace, and my manner all had to change, and at first, I was not necessarily okay with that. Yet, after experiencing such heartbreak, shedding many tears, and releasing my hopes and dreams, I realized that my aim and my goal was the same: to live a life surrendered to God and to bring Him glory.

So the question was how exactly I was going to do that in a body that no longer worked correctly. Well, that is where the detective work came in. But even before I got around to detecting, I had to prepare my heart to be repurposed. I had to resurrender my life to God. I had to let my hopes and dreams die. I had to let go of who I thought I was, and who I thought I was going to be by a certain age in life. Essentially, I had to determine to let my vessel be used differently now—yet still allow it to be used. This meant not throwing a temper-tantrum, not falling into inconsolable depression, and not setting myself on the “antique collectible shelf” to gather dust and not be touched anymore.

Being repurposed means I take this vessel in the state that it is in and I allow it to be used in a fresh new way. When we give attention to a broken piece of furniture by giving it time, a new coat of paint, a new space to reside, and a new exposure to light, beauty comes forth. If I allow God to put new touches on my life with His timing and attention, allow Him to set me in a new space, and allow Him to put a new light on who I am, beauty is going to shine forth.

We all have skills, abilities, and talents that may need to be tapped, dusted off, and strengthened. In these bodies that do not work quite right, we have a new arena in which to create a beautiful display. We have a new arena in which to use the things with which we have been endowed. We just have to take the time and focus the attention, and then beauty is going to come forth.

God’s mercies are new every morning, and they can be new in you and through you. You can have a greater impact now than you ever had before—as you allow God to redirect you into a new avenue of purpose.*

©May 2017 by Francee Strain

*This article was written as a guest post for my dear friend Carole’s website.  Her website addresses the struggles of invisible disabilities and offers help and encouragement to those affected by such situations. You may visit her site at http://www.navigatingthestorms.com.