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Friday, October 17, 2014

A Ready Heart
          How do we valiantly survive the trials of life?

            Times in my life have been so full of trials and tragedies that I have dreaded what may be coming next and I have been afraid.  I have wanted to run, to find a safe cave where I can take all the people I love and keep us all safe and unharmed.  I find myself repeating Jesus’ words from His prayer in Gethsemane, “Let this cup pass from me.”
            I didn't want to face any more pain or suffering. I wanted life to get back to “normal.” I tried to bargain with God, but of course that was futile. I tried to hide, to protect myself, but that didn’t work either. I wanted this cup to pass from me and the more I tried to make that happen the more miserable I felt.
            Jesus moved forward in His prayer. So must I. So must we. He surrendered.  He prayed, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” I too, we too, must accept the pain and hardship and surrender ourselves to God.
            I was gripped by the opening scene of “The Passion of the Christ.” Jesus prays in agony in Gethsemane. His surrender is powerfully portrayed. Later, he stands stripped of his clothes, chained to a large rock about to be beaten and scourged by the Roman soldiers. The first blow has not yet fallen when He says,“Father, My heart is ready.” As I continued to watch the movie I was captivated by Jesus’ steely determination to keep going, to face all that his trial and execution entailed. He faced His suffering with courage, with strength, with confidence, with resolution, with steely determination. This is how I long to face life. I want to face life with courage, with confidence, with passion. How do I get there? How did Jesus do it?
            He had a ready heart. He had an intimate relationship with God the Father. He let go of His own desires and embraced God’s will, and then pursued it in passionate obedience. He saw beyond the pain. He saw the purpose. He had the right perspective.
            So often my perspective becomes skewed and I look at the pain, the suffering.  I get focused on the difficulty. I forget to look up. I forget the truth of Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” When I forget to look up, I get stuck in the mire and muck. When I look up to my Helper and Maker, when I surrender to Him, when I obey Him I can look difficulty in the eye and say, “Father, My heart is ready.” I can valiantly, courageously survive the trials when I focus on Him.

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