October 3, 2012

Preparing the Barren Heart


In the last post (which can be read here), we looked at the first 4 verses of Isaiah 54. The overarching themes being...
  • God uses our barrenness as the platform for something greater to be conceived and birthed by His supernatural power, for His glory and our ultimate joy.
  • The state of barrenness is not permanent, but preparatory. And...
  • We're to position ourselves for that season of fruitfulness, so that when it comes we may enjoy it all the more. We're not to wait until "inpregnantion occurs" before we start preparing... we begin preparing for "fruitfulness" now.
In positioning our hearts in seasons of barrenness, the most important thing we must remind ourselves is that we must abide in Him: "Unless it [the branch] abides in the vine [Christ] there will be no fruit produced for the harvest" (see John 15:1-11). We are the branches, and He is THE vine. Barrenness is the time for cultivating our hearts in such a way that that which is sown will be gladly reaped. We'll be able to enjoy the fruits of the labor. But the fruits of the labor, as awesome and wonderful as they will be, are not the ultimate gain. The ultimate gain is always getting more of Jesus. He's the ultimate fruit, not whatever it is we may be waiting for. So in abiding in Him, in waiting well, our nurturing of that relationship with Him is of utmost importance. Everything else flows out from it.

Preparing our Hearts in the Midst of Barrenness/Waiting

Fight Lies. We can all too easily allow lies to crystallize within our heart, which prevents us from viewing Christ as we ought to: He is good, gracious, wise, and loving... even in pain, suffering, and frustration, however little or great it may be. We have to continuously lay our hearts bear before Him, and be willing to be vulnerable. We cry aloud in prayer. We let His words be the healing balm we seek and so desperately need (just as we see Hannah doing in 1 Samuel). It's far better to walk around with a heart that's raw, tender, and sore, rather than a heart that's crystallized. Raw hearts come from...

Allowing God to Shape Us & Our Desires. We're to lay our desires and our hearts upon the alter, and allow Christ to take them and mold them so that His desires become our desires, and our hearts image His heart. The tough part about that though is being able to receive from the Lord in the midst of waiting. Trusting Him while longings and desires are not yet fulfilled. Trusting that no matter what, we're ALWAYS under His covering (Ezekiel 1:8). Trusting that our deepest needs and desires are ultimately fulfilled in Him (see here). Trusting that we will get more of Him.
 
Press on in Hope Not Bitterness. Lauren shared in a blog post a while back: "In my experience with waiting, I find others' fulfillment of what I'm longing for highlighted." Seeing all of Penninnah's children surly caused the same feeling in Hannah. I don't know how you all think, but that holds true for me too. It seems like those around me are being fulfilled and blessed in ways I long for but have little to no evidence in my life. In the thick of this kind of waiting, remaining hopeful is the hardest part for me. Hope after all leaves an ever so small amount of the possibility of disappointment (or at the very least, in the mind it seems or feels like it does), whereas smashing hope can create in us no expectations... therefore we supposedly won't get hurt (recipe for a hardened heart). And the longer hope is prolonged it can infect our hearts with a kind of sickness (Proverbs 13:12). If you've been there, or are there, you know just how unsettling it can be. It creates the perfect breeding ground for potential bitterness. Heart bitterness is never attractive though, and must be stopped. It's the weed that chokes out hope. I'm no pro at knowing how to battle bitterness, but one thing I do know that helps is making my worship and praise of Christ bigger and bigger. So...

Let Worship Rise to the Surface.  If I had to define worship, I'd simply define it as fixing my gaze on Him. I need to consistently redirect my focus on Jesus... at every moment possible. And I do that by filling my day with as many reminders of Christ and His grace as much as I possible can (which I'm sure is going to look different for each person).

Be as Active as You Can! Often when we think about "waiting on the Lord," we assume we're to take a position of doing nothing. Of sitting, staring and waiting until God decides to show up. OK,  wake up call here: that's not waiting. That's more along the lines of passivity. "Waiting means serving, Waiting means seeking." Waiting does not mean sitting on your butt doing nothing. Waiting well, means taking some action. Perfect example of this is when I hear guys sometimes say something along the lines of "I'm just waiting until the Lord brings me my Eve." (If you want to know how to drive me crazy, that's one easy shortcut right there.) Because let's be honest, when do they ever take that stance on anything else in their life? I mean really? (No personal offense to the two guys who read my blog BTW.) They don't wait around until the Lord brings them a sub sandwich if they're hungry or if their sports car had a problem they wouldn't sit on the garage floor and wait until God somehow "magically" fixed it. No. They go to the kitchen and get a sandwich, they go to the car repairman if the car dies (or they'll do it themselves). Dating philosophies have to go further than Genesis chapter 2, because this thing called "the fall" occurs in chapter three, and there's the rest of the Bible as well. Now that I've gotten my tangent in and sorta off track... The point is, waiting is going to involve doing some things. Depending on what it is a person is waiting for will depend what actions they can take. A good chunk of those actions are simply what I listed above...
  • Fighting lies/dealing with the "junk" we carry
  • Giving God control 
  • Pull out weeds of bitterness from their root
  • Increase worship
  • Abide with Christ
  • And whatever else you can do to prepare for specific thing(s) you may be waiting for
An awesome resource: Waiting on God

3 comments :

  1. Natalie, this is so timely for me. Thank you so much for your words. This is filled with such truth and has lightened my heart with hope. I needed this advice so bad!

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  2. your series never fail to disappoint! Right on point sister!

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  3. "If I had to define worship, I'd simply define it as fixing my gaze on Him. I need to consistently redirect my focus on Jesus... at every moment possible." <----- amen.

    i love your paragraph on waiting, too; it's so true. and i think, too, when we wait on other things, it involves action. i just got an iphone and i'm going on a trip to indiana next week; waiting for those things involved budgeting and saving, which were active, conscious decisions on my part. waiting sounds passive, but it really requires action in the process.

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