The Lord and I were discussing the state of my heart last week during my drive home from work. I had taken advantage of some precious, quiet moments during the commute to listen to a teaching that posed the more of Christ we see, the more we recognize our own weakness; and that the proper response to the revelation of Jesus is, “Lord, I have need.”
It had been the kind of day that left me feeling comfortably satisfied with life in general, so I prayed, “Lord, I don’t even recognize my own need anymore. Show me my heart. Show me my need.” Although I prayed with fervent conviction, by the time I pulled up to my house I promptly forgot I had prayed at all.
Let it be known God doesn’t forget our prayers—especially not the ones that He can use to teach us something.
At 9:30 that night, right in the middle of a rather large canning project, a thunder-storm (severe enough to make my young brother-in-law decide he wasn’t a fan ofMississippi) crashed through our neighborhood. Just as I placed the last filled jar of chicken stock into my pressure canner, the power went out for my entire block.
Prior to this evening, every time the power has gone out on my street since I’ve lived there, the electric company has had it going again within a couple of hours; for this reason, I assumed our current blackout was a simple nuisance that would work itself out in an hour or two at the most, allowing me to finish my canning process before the end of the night. I prayed a glib, “Lord I’ve worked really hard here please turn the power back on thanks so much,” and seated myself at the kitchen table to roast marshmallows on a fork over a candle.
By 11:30 we all decided the time had come to go to bed. At 2:30 the next morning, I began texting the electric company for status updates. When my alarm alerted us it was time to get up the next morning, we were still in the dark and I had slept less than two hours.
I started the day off “well,” snapping at my husband (which quickly escalated into a full-scale fight) and summarily executing all current and former electric company employees in my head. I moved through the rest of the day seemingly unable to focus my thoughts and wondering if it was worth trying to sneak a nap under my desk. My mother-in-law texted me to let me know that as of 4:30 that afternoon we still didn’t have power at my house. My thoughts went to the fresh produce I had bought over the weekend and the three chickens I had cooked and placed in the refrigerator to keep. Of course, everything would be ruined now. I just hoped the freezer was holding its own.
When I reached the point in my neighborhood where I had prayed my, “Lord, show me my heart” prayer, I found myself quietly praying, “Lord, please just have mercy on us.” Within a few minutes, my mother-in-law texted me to say we had power again.
How like God’s impeccable timing. My first prayer for the return of electricity was based upon my own merits – “God, I’ve worked really hard. Please do this because I deserve it.” My second prayer acknowledged we had no recourse outside of Him.
God had indeed shown me my heart. Somewhere deep within I still try to earn His approval based on my own, filthy-rag righteousness. I still don’t fully accept that I need a savior. I still compare my life with others around me and not with His standard of perfect holiness.
Consider what Paul said in Ephesians:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— (Eph. 2:4, my emphasis added)
Or what James said:
For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (Jas. 2:13)
To underscore His kindness, God prompted one of my neighbors to let us borrow his generator for an hour, so nothing in the refrigerator spoiled and I was able to finish canning. My heart had been filled with darkness all day, but God, rich in love and in mercy, gave me what I did not deserve and allowed His grace to bathe me once again. He expects us to extend that same kind of love to our fellow man. The truest test of our love as Christians is how we treat those we respect the least.
May our challenge for the next week be to find one person whose actions deserve immediate, withering judgment, and to respond with mercy and kindness instead. Blessings as you push to follow in the steps of Christ.