October 18, 2013

God searches with a laser . . .

Christians who ask God to search their heart must be willing to submit to anything that God sees fit to bring into their life that will expose their heart.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23–24)

God does answer this prayer. I’ve even told others that when they pray it, duck. The answer may come suddenly and bring revelations that are unexpected and unpleasant.

Sometimes the tests bring out godliness. A few weeks ago, a beloved family member had a deadly cancer scare and we waited a week for test results. I found myself at first dismayed, then praying, “Not my will but thine be done” and meaning it. That exposure was a surprise and humbling for I knew that only Jesus could give me this attitude.

Sometimes the tests bring out a hidden desire for control when God is looking for submission and acceptance. Sometimes He is looking for faith but doubts appear. Not that He doesn’t already know about my doubts, but He wants me to know them too, and be willing to overcome them. 

Trials show me the parts of my life that have not yet been yielded to Him. They show me the contents of my “second kingdom” — places that I want to rule instead of surrendering them to God. Will I trust Him? Or will I hang on to my “I wants”?

His search goes deep, but His laser beam is not constantly on me. I’m grateful, because He knows when to give me a plateau and a rest, a time to say that walking with Christ is a great adventure instead of a constant conviction. 

For weeks, I’ve battled a particular stronghold. The Lord is showing me how silly and stubborn I can be, even when I know better. I’ve been so totally divided about this issue. The old nature wants the exact opposite of what my life in Christ wants. This conflict is perplexing, never mind the surprising tests He has used to reveal it.

Through this, I’ve learned several strong lessons. One is that I must trust God even in the way He tests me, trusting Him with the timing of events and knowing that whatever happens, it is for my good and His glory. Even when I flunk a test, I can still reach out to Him and not complain, but receive His forgiveness and grace, pick myself up and trust that what He is doing will eventually produce the transformation that He is seeking. I also know that I cannot make that change happen by my own efforts.

Today’s devotional says that the Lord knows that His children will suffer far worse things than these tests if He allows us to enjoy forbidden “candy” in our lives. He knows that I need severe discipline to be a strong warrior and witness for Him. A cushy religion without trials produces nothing, but these God-ordained tests remove the dross and make me stronger in the Lord.

I’ve a new friend who is a recent widow. Her husband was ill for a long time and this trial, plus many others, has resulted in a lovely character that feeds and encourages the faith of others. On the other hand, the most shallow Christian I’ve ever known once boasted of her “perfect life” that was without troubles.

The more Christians lay their whole hearts before God and ask him to search and purify them until He is satisfied, the more holy they become. On one hand, asking this can seem masochistic and self-destructive. In a way, it is, but that old self is the reason for every inner stress in my life. Why not have it purged? This makes sense because everything I have entrusted to Jesus Christ brings freedom and joy. Besides, that old self is blind to its own destructive tendencies and thinks that if it can have its way, everything will be good. That is a lie.

God is teaching me that it’s a good habit to ask Him to do whatever it takes to bring me into a condition that will please him. It is wise to yield to His pruning knife and to be purged of all selfishness and everything that is offensive to Him. I want to stand before Him in meekness and love. I want Him to looks at me and say, “This is my handiwork, and it is very good.”

So I am persisting to ask God to search my heart. I’m also asking Him to help me with my fears over what He will uncover. May I see all the trials of life as coming from Him, for even the latest and most perplexing one has shown how self-deceived I can be and how deep “I-wants” can cause great conflict in my life.

May He continue to nurture that deeper desire to grow up into the likeness of the Son of God. Without God’s searching, that will never happen.

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