Transformation is a big concept. It can be painful and it takes time but it is beautiful. It’s more than incremental change. It’s radical. My love is more self-serving than it appears, my wounds are deeper, my self-deception more destructive. I fail to live up to my expectations. And it is in this place where God meets and transforms me.
“I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there. I wanted to correct the perversion that existed in your love.” AW Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Tozer reflects on the reason why God brought Abraham so close to sacrificing the thing he held most dear. He did it so that he could love his son and enjoy this love in the right perspective. Abraham would never again place anything or anyone before God in His heart. So that he could love his son so much more when God came first. The God of Abraham is the same Jesus that calls us to leave everything to follow Him. I’m familiar with this lesson, this transformation. It freed me from my perfectionism and fear so I could love others and myself more deeply.
2 Cor3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Transformation frees us to love anyone with absolute abandonment and total reverence to God. God purifies our love for Him so that when He chooses to entrust that which is most precious to Him (others’ hearts) we will hold them in the right contrast in relationship to Him and never again think of the words “my” or “mine” in the same way. We will honor and respect the hearts we hold. We will also honor and respect our own. It is through this great love that we will be able to help others to know God, to meet them where their fragile hearts are and breathe God’s love into their hurting souls without judgment.
1Sam 16: 7 “ But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
I used to care too much about what others thought of me and how things appeared. This lead to my judgment of others based on perceived standards instead of God’s standards. So much so that those closest to me could sometimes feel like they didn’t measure up to my standard, or God’s. I vowed to never again be the source of such a feeling. For one, I never want someone to intermingle my sinful judgment for God’s standard, and secondly I want others to feel the love that He has extended me. God rejected Saul because he cared too much about the outward appearance and when called out by Samuel he wasn’t willing to wait on God, he made a judgment call based on what he saw before him instead of making a faithful decision. He acted out of fear not faith. In contrast David, who was chosen by God to replace Saul as king, made much of the same mistakes Saul did, but when called out by Nathan was humble, admitted his wrong and was willing to take the discipline. He had a heart willing to face the pain and change. It is what drew God to him.
Hosea 2:19 “I will betroth you to me forever.”
God’s love puts things in right perspective. It no longer matters how someone looks, but how I can make him or her feel. I don’t care what we do; I care more about spending time with the person I’m with. Things don’t need to be done the way I would do them because my way is only one way, not the right or only way. This is the way I can love when God is above me and when I know that I am betrothed to Him. I am chosen by Him and loved so deeply that there is nothing I can lose in giving all of me that He cannot restore and fill. His standard trumps all.
“I have one fear; it is that I may convince the mind before God can win the heart. For this God-above-all position is one not easy to take. The mind may approve it while not having the consent of the will to put it into effect. While the imagination races ahead to honor God, the will may lag behind and the man never guess how divided his heart is. The whole man must make the decision before the heart can know any real satisfaction. God wants us all, and He will not rest till He gets us all. No part of the man will do.” AW Tozer
I see God calling me to this, God- above-all position. In my mind I can understand it (the call to let go and surrender to God’s perfect love; put down my self-protection and love others vulnerably; the call to move forward in full assurance and trust). Yet my heart can lag behind and whisper doubts, “Will He grant release and restore my strength, that which I lost when I lost sight of Him? Will God really give me a second chance at love as I strive to serve His people better? Is God seeing the transformation even if others don’t right away enough for me?”
My natural instinct is to “do” something, do anything, to act. God is teaching me that it takes a lot more courage to do nothing. In this courage, this love, I no longer feel like I have anything to prove.
1Sam 24:10 “This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to spear you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’”
David did not act. He let Saul go. He risked rejection when he acted out of faith instead of fear. I too have known the cost of this type of decision. It’s choosing to do what is hard in the face of what we want. David could have slain Saul and taken what he wanted. There would have been no more hiding or running. He would have been King. I too remember being faced with such a choice: take what you want on your terms or release it into God’s hands and it may never return. The faithful decision is that which calls us to place God-above-all. It’s the decision that is willing to remove what may challenge God’s reign in my heart so that my love may be purified. It is what gives Him the power to transform us into His likeness.
My greatest treasure is my heart, the things and people I carry in it. It is the very thing I fear of placing in God’s hands out of fear for its safety. Out of fear of rejection, failure and mishandling. But God so lovingly reminds me that He is the safest place to commit what I treasure most. He fills the space in my heart so I can love others and myself more deeply. I am free from selfish love, wounds and self-deception. Over time, and if I allow Him to, my love is purified, my wounds are healed and I see Him, others, and myself through Truth’s light.
Ecc 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.