Weekly Devotional~ Pencil Him in, permanently

"You will seek me and find me 
when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you," declares the LORD," and will bring you back from captivity."
Jeremiah 29:13-14a

I had a profound moment during service today; a moment that stopped me in my tracks and made me re-evaluate every moment I've had along my faith journey up until today.  I was at service with my favorite Princess, Mrs. Kristen Ulin and we both sat as still as a stone after Pastor Brad closed his bible and wished us a great day.  It hit the both of us directly in our hearts, which was the purpose of the message, after all.  The anticipation of a talk that was centered on bringing God into our heart and letting him shape us went from an "oh I got this; I'm a pretty strong believer" to an "omgsh.. I'm lost, still."

Continue after the jump, whether a believer, seeker or full-blown atheist, even, to read about the beauty of what it is to hand THE key to your heart over, once and for all.

God works in mysterious ways, we all know this.  He is God, He is sovereign and He is everywhere before and after the time we live in.  It is impossible for us to fathom His greatness and so, it is possible for us to forget to reach out to Him when we should be most.  In doing this we miss the many promises He has sprinkled through the bible's pages.  Jeremiah 29:13-14a is a piece of scripture that holds one of the most beautiful and liberating promises for those who choose to believe in Him.  It is a promise to free and revive the captive and to be found by us when we call out to Him.  Wow.

Now, as you see I have invited all people to read this particular devotional (though everyone is always invited to read them), because this one just really called to me differently; it was meant to share a very fundamental characteristic of what it is to be a Christ follower.  If you never choose to be a believer, maybe it will help you to understand what that "bible thumper" sitting next to you is feeling at times :)

Simply put; God created us to seek Him, love Him and glorify Him.  He is the God of our entire existence and all He truly desires is for us to leave behind what it is that replaces Him in our hearts and seek Him instead.  In many scriptures He is found to be a God that even declares Himself "jealous."  He wants us all to Himself and wishes to reward our devotion with everlasting life and happiness; a promise made a couple millennia ago.  In our lives today, however, we turn to the instant gratification that many superficial objects provide.  Our lives are full of constant confusion, pain, suffering and regret as we continue to acquire distractions, remain dissatisfied, and then search for more.  In this sense, we are captive to today's way of living.  We run in circles to "keep it all together" and "wear many hats" to appear competent in doing so. 

If we could for just one moment, however, open our hearts to the one true God, we would have the opportunity to acquire everlasting peace, joy, hope and love; the things He truly wants to see in our everyday lives.  We would be able to have peace during times of pain, joy in times of trouble and defeat, hope in times of confusion and love that is overflowing and accessible; even shared with enemies.  God meant for the world to fill up on His promise and His faith in us instead of material possessions, drunken stupors, regretful decisions and excessive rebellion in order to "be who we wanna be."  He has equipped us with gifts in order to fulfill the dreams He has given us.  He wishes the best for us and promises that there is a future for each of us.  He planned His world in the beginning and does not wish to see a single child perish in the end.  It is on the declaration of these statements that seekers and non-believers shake their heads.. because if this is true, why the pain and suffering found in the world? 

Our free will.

To remind you, or sum it up if you are new to this; we sinned in the beginning, and in doing so, we detached ourselves from God forever.  He saw that even though we tried and tried we could never right our wrongs, and so He sent the perfect sacrifice to atone for the sins of everyone.  
Every. Single. Person. Then. And. To. Come.

and so

He had to be perfect.  He had to be sinless.  He had to be willing.

Jesus Christ was born perfectly, lived perfectly and even died perfectly.  He was obedient until the moment He was crucified, and it was because God was in His heart.  He opened His heart to the Lord and experienced the promise of Jeremiah 29:13-14a.  He found Him, even when nailed to the cross, because He sought Him with all of his perfect heart.  The captivity He lived in as He was persecuted before and during death was defeated by His faithful act on the cross.  God freed Him, and in doing so, Jesus freed us all.

Our hearts are less than perfect and yet, He desires them just as much as He did Jesus'.  He asks that we open this window to our soul, each day, so that we may be transparent, vulnerable and most importantly, shape-able.  To make us clean from children born into sin; that is the only business God is in.  What is of this world is what is of each individual person and what is in their hearts.  In the heart of the man who is a follower of Jesus there is a spirit that moves his words and actions and motives.  Each day is decided upon by how his heart is beating.  The people that arise with God and wish to serve their family and fellow neighbor have a peace that is truly indescribable.  Their uncertain future is eagerly hoped for and faithfully entrusted to God; the God of the beginning of time and the future to come. 

We hand over the key-to-our-heart to people that do not deserve it and, quite frankly, never could.  When pain arises from this defeated expectation, we live our lives in that pain.  What we live is what is in our hearts.  We are captive.  But when we hand over the key to God, we are met with the gift of communication with Him.  And are we forgetting who He is?  He is the God of Moses, Abraham and Noah; the God that promises a return and a new heaven and earth.  No matter how long it takes to realize this, when we move this one bit, we find Him waiting and meeting us where we are; we begin to feel the presence that has been here all along.

He is jealous for each and every one of us.  He wants our humility, and our most sensitive self.  He understands that it is not in our nature to have these things, but that it is in our nature to be shaped.  Giving Him the opportunity to move into our soul and rearrange some things will result in a life change for the much, much better.  It may seem that He hasn't intervened at all of the right times, but that is because He is a God that gives His children free will.  He is never unavailable to us, but rather, we are unavailable to Him.  Praise His patience, because just one moment really can change everything.  It may take longer than we'd like, but it will happen; on His time and in accordance with His perfect will.  No matter what you have done, no matter what you have said, He can take it away in one moment of surrender and carry you through a journey that brings you closer to eternity and also, Him.  Nothing is too big for Him, and given the opportunity, He'll show you many of His children in the bible who were without faith; outright evil at times, and yet, were forgiven and changed forever.

It's too good to be true, right?  

I know I felt this way when I was an agnostic; it was not true because there was no proof.  Well I cannot help you here because it takes faith to experience the promise of Jeremiah 29:13-14a.  And faith comes from a decision you make in your heart and a conversation you have with your Savior.   Anything that can be proven by a book or expert holds nothing but a factual space in your mind after the lesson has been learned.  It is retrievable and beneficial for Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit, I'll give you that.  But what personal growth or emotional healing can you obtain from those things that are proven fact in this world??  The theory of relativity, the laws of thermodynamics, the length of our small intestines; these are all valuable proven facts, but do not hold a credible place in our emotional growth as humans.  In a faithful moment with God, however, things happen differently.  He will not only bring you to a moment of pure honesty with yourself, but will also mold you to be capable of making right of what you have done wrong, and also the ability to grow exponentially each day.  Your healing does not depend on your financial status, family life, or demographics, but instead on your heart and who holds the key.

He cannot be proven, but He cannot be disproven, either.  If you've tried all avenues of satisfying yourself, try one more.  Take that key to your heart, no matter how rusty or worn or bent or broken, and hand it to Him.  No matter where you sit or stand, kneel or fall, He'll meet you right there and begin to work out the tough stuff with you.
You will meet Him and you will be freed from this captive life you're leading.

God's best, and a big misty-eyed hug,

**Many of my thoughts were taken from today's service at Northridge Church in Plymouth Michigan;  compliments of the learning and living of our fantastic Senior Pastor, Brad Powell. 

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