Leaving God Margins in a Double-Spaced Life

Submit all work with 1” margins, double-spaced. As a professor, I hold fast to these two formatting rules so I have enough room to make corrections and provide substantive feedback. It made me wonder if we leave God enough room between the lines of our stories, if we leave enough space in the margins for God to bring our dreams in line with His divine plans. Are you slowing down enough to live the double-spaced life? He knows your story better than you. Are you leaving God margins so He can write it on your heart?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. {Jer. 29:11, NIV}

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. {Psa. 139:16, NLT}

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God Wants to Break Your Heart

broken heart

Once God breaks your heart, nobody else can!

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ~(Psalm 51:17)

If you’re a Christian and you’ve ever suffered loss, ever felt vulnerable and unprotected, ever felt you were sinking, drowning, crumbling at your core, then you’ve probably also wondered what I have, “Where are You, God?” or simply asked God, “Why?” If you’ve prayed to feel His presence and instead felt absence, prayed to hear His voice and heard deafening silence, prayed for a restored marriage then numbly watched the divorce finalized, prayed for healing and watched loved ones die, if you’ve placed your trust in Him and still felt that burning sting of disappointment, then you’ve encountered the God of which I speak, the God who wants to break your heart.

Of course I’m not suggesting God is some aloof, or worse, sadistic being, deriving pleasure from our pain. However, I am saying that if we’ll ever fulfill our God-ordained purpose, we’ll have to be broken to fit the God-shaped mold for our lives. In “Finding My Way Home,” Henri Nouwen asserts that when Christ cried out, “It is finished,” He didn’t only mean what He’d done, but also what others had done to Him – that He stayed on the cross until all that needed to be done to Him could be done in order to fulfill His purpose. If we’re committed to God and truly passionate about adopting His desires, His thoughts, His ways, then we’ll welcome His process, His breaking, His remaking. We’ll allow His breaking to fulfill our life’s purpose.

I believe God breathes on us in a gentle way to bend our will into submission to His, but much like Jacob, we wrestle. In our striving, though, we encounter the God who loves us enough to break what will not bend. Pastor Howard-John Wesley said, “God knows that life outside of His will is not in your best interest, and He loves you too much not to use everything in His sovereign omnipotence to get you to surrender to His will…we serve a God who, if blessing you doesn’t change your life, [He] has enough love to break you in the right place.” I believe the “right place” for God to break us is our hearts, the wellspring of our inconsistent desires and stubborn wills.

The admonishment in Joel 2:12-13 is to “rend your hearts, not your garments” and return to the Lord with your whole hearts. The message is that the outward appearance of repentance, contrition, and obedience mean nothing if our sinful hearts remain unbroken and turned away from God. The good news is that God waits on us. He waits to be gracious toward us and show us mercy (Isaiah 30:18). My mentor shared her belief that God sometimes withholds His provision until we seek His presence. Perhaps what we’ve thought was God’s silence was His megaphone to help us diligently seek Him. Perhaps what felt like God’s absence was His patience. Perhaps God knows that only desperate, broken hearts can receive His transforming love.

Shannon Alder said, “Blessed are those with cracks in their broken heart because that is how the light gets in.” God wants in, and a broken heart provides a blessed route.I believe God is determined to do a new thing in and through us, and the old places won’t facilitate new growth. In a recent sermon, Pastor MyRon Edmonds said that unless we learn to get vulnerable with God and get broken, our old ways will keep taking us down the same road. But the blessing of God’s breaking is that “once GOD breaks you, nobody else can!” Heart Check: Do you trust God to break those parts of you that won’t bend in submission to His sovereignty? Do you believe the breaking He’s sending is better than the blessing you’re seeking? God wants to break your heart. Will you let Him?

I originally posted this on The Haystack.

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