One of my very favorite passages in the Bible is Psalm 139. This is where that verse is found… ya know the one stitched onto every throw pillow ever made? “For I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” It’s one that we all cling to when we need to remember that who we are isn’t an accident, that who we are is planned, on purpose, and lovely in the eyes of the One who made us. Beautiful.
But there’s more to that chapter, so very much more. It’s where I run when I need to remember that the Lord has me. That even if I rise on the wings of the dawn He will guide me. That when I go to the far side of the sea, He holds me even there. It says that all my days were ordained before even one of them came to be. It says that He knows me deeply, cares about me intimately, created me thoughtfully, guides me attentively, and loves me relentlessly. The words of this psalm are like soothing balm to my sometimes frantic heart.
But this psalm contains a very important prayer.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way of the everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
And lately, this is the prayer I’ve been praying: Jesus, uproot anything in me that doesn’t point to You. Uproot pride, selfishness, fear, bitterness. Anything that You see that I don’t see, show me. Anything that needs to leave, help me get rid of.
Dangerous prayer, friends… because He answers.
And ya know what He pointed out to me? So much bitterness and resentment… valid resentment, but resentment that has no place in the heart of someone who knows Forgiveness and Love Himself. And it’s not a bitterness that I can hide. It’s a bitterness that takes the form of anxiety when I’m in someone’s presence. It’s a resentment that brings fear into a space that should be filled with relief. It’s a heart issue that leads to me hiding who I am and living as if I am today who I was before Jesus.
I’ve realized that when I’m around certain people, I put up walls and refuse to be vulnerable simply because they believe the worst in me. Because they poke at me until I crack and then laugh at my broken pieces. Because they provoke me so that they can look me in the eyes and tell me that I’m no different than who I used to be.
And I’ve believed them… and I’ve resented them for it.
Honestly, I have no clue how to love someone well that always wishes the worst for me. How do you let someone into who you are, all the good and bad and whatever else, when you know that they’re just waiting for you to fail? I truly don’t know how to be my normal, carefree self in the midst of people who don’t believe that who I am is real. I let these people that have never known me as a believer speak to my character when the people that know me now can attest to the pruning and growing of my heart. I live as if I have to prove myself over and over again to people that have no hold over me… to people that I don’t answer to. To people that do. not. define. me.
That’s the definition of an enemy. An enemy is someone who wishes the worst for you. Someone who purposely hurts you again and again and waits around to point out when you stumble. And guess what?
While we were enemies of Jesus, He gave His life for us.
His love doesn’t hide because we’ve hurt Him or resent us because at one point or another in our lives we’ve ran from Him, ignored Him, spit on Him, or hung Him on a cross because of our sin. His love is slow to anger. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. It’s extravagant, not cautious. It’s a love that takes castaways and makes them children. And we, His children, are called to love like Him. People should be able to look at us and tell Whose we are because we’re the spitting images of our Daddy, who just happens to be the kindest, most forgiving, relentless Lover in all of creation.
Friends, this means bitterness can have no hold over us because Jesus Christ rose from the grave in the name of love to draw us to Himself and free us from the sin that so easily entangles.
So if the Son set you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
So, this week, life with Jesus looked like being reminded that who I am is free in Him AND free from sin through Him. Not only is He Joy and Freedom Himself, but also the path to get there. In uprooting things like anger and bitterness, He frees me to enjoy Himself more… in taking away bad things, He replaces them with Himself: joy and peace and freedom incarnate.
Friends, Jesus has joy on His mind for us if we can simply let Him uproot in us the things that don’t bring Him glory. He fully knows us, loves us, and is radically and fully for us. So, as we navigate the refining of our souls, we can rest in His promises that He is with us, hemming us in behind and before… brightening our days and leading us in the way of the everlasting.
All my love,