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“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Making It Real

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering…And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” Hebrews 10:22-24

Have you ever been embarrassed to admit that you didn’t make something from scratch? We women tend to be proud of our culinary accomplishments, especially when it comes to church fellowships. We have this secret desire that people will pronounce our dish the most amazing they have ever tasted, scarf it down, and beg us for the recipe. Almost every woman alive has made something from a mix and immediately buried the empty box in the bottom of the trash can, especially when company comes for dinner.

So it wasn’t without chagrin that I had to admit that I’d used a boxed potato casserole and pre-made, frozen meatballs when some friends came for dinner recently. Our new pastor and his wife are sweet people and we were delighted to have them over. It just so happens that some of my never-fail “recipes” are very quick and easy, and include the above-mentioned items. When they complimented the dishes, I had to come clean and tell them I’d used “ingredients” that I had not prepared myself. We laughed about it, and to be honest, I wasn’t really embarrassed because of the relationship we have with this dear couple. They aren’t just our pastor and his wife, and they aren’t company anymore. They’re family.

But how many times have we tried to be artificial and pass ourselves off as something we aren’t? When scripture encourages us to draw near to God with a true heart, I have to laugh. There’s no other way to draw near to God. He knows my heart anyway, so even if I try to pull the wool over His eyes, it’s not going to work. He knows me completely. But being part of fellowship of faith means, as the verse in Hebrews says, we should consider one another to stir up love and good works. I believe God is telling us here to be real with each other, and being real means to open your heart and allow people into your life. For some of us, that’s a long step away from our comfort zone. For several years, I allowed old wounds to keep me separated from God’s people. I didn’t want to be real in their presence. I didn’t want them to know the real me because that would mean allowing myself to be vulnerable again.

Gradually, God began to loosen the bricks in the wall I’d erected around myself. He worked through a few very special friends to heal those old hurts, and He showed me I needn’t fear being real with these people. In order for me to allow these people to stir up love and good works in me, I had to let down my guard. If I expected God to use me, it had to be on His terms, not mine. Being real is scary until we realize it’s God who makes us who we are. Not only is He the One we are called upon to trust and obey, He is the One with whom we seek sanctuary. He provides the shelter and comfort. We aren’t alone. He never intended for us to sequester ourselves from others, thinking we’d be safe in our own little shells. At some point, if we desire to be used of God to minister to someone else’s hurting heart, the wall has to come down and we have to be real.

I don’t believe our pastor and his wife felt slighted when I told them I’d used frozen meatballs or Betty Crocker potatoes. God has already used this precious couple to minister to my heart, and I hope we are as dear to them as they are to us. But doggone it, next time they come, I swear I’m going to cook everything from scratch!!

Thanks for letting me share my heart.

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