Cleaning out the heart

My animals often reveal things in my heart that I can easily manage or bury in day-to-day living.  Yesterday was Gretchen’s turn to clean out my heart.  It was hot and the week had been long and busy.  gretchen-hug  I planned to stop by for a quick pat on the nose and a weight measurement before heading home to dinner with my family.

Gretchen had other plans.  Initially, it seemed we would play a little game that I call, ‘Who’s the lead mare?’  When I’ve not been spending time with her, she likes to make me work to catch her.  I was okay with that–but like every bad habit, it grew–and it wasn’t pretty.

Instead of the usual leisurely trot by me and a stop to see if I was playing, she ran all out from one end of the field to the other–over logs, through brush.  She kept her ear toward me on each pass and stopped at the other end of the field.  A few laps of that and the amusement of the earlier games evaporated.  I had created a monster that needed correction.  And I wasn’t happy about it; it wasn’t on my agenda for the day.

I was due for a heart cleaning…emotionally, spiritually and physically.  I’ll spare you the ugly blow-by-blow physical details but the fly-over includes the pain of twisting my ankles a few times, some angry words, a few angry kicks from Gretchen, and a lot of panting, sweating and heart-thudding from both of us. Like every time that sin & flesh reign, the unrest spills over onto others…Riesa’s horse got into the action by dumping her as she tried to help me.   Struggles reveals weaknesses–and build strength!  Seeing God clearly requires seeing our short-comings and mistakes.

You can’t go with God and stay the way you are!

What Gretchen reminded me was that my agenda is not the rule of the day–nor is it her reason for being.  She is living, breathing creature with certain needs that must be met–and those are not just physical needs of food and shelter.  She needs attention that includes exercise and discipline.  I can’t just indulge her–not can I indulge myself with her.  She’s not just for my enjoyment.  In fact, her reason for being in my life is to increase my awareness of the goodness of God.  Usually she does that with the sweet enjoyment of relationship and working toward common goals.  Yesterday, her stubborn-ness was an effective tool…because she showed me how I am with the One who ‘owns me.’

You see, God often interrupts my plans too.  His ways are not mine.  Like with my horse, most of my God-time is easy awareness of the blessings of relationship.  To me, the work of faith is as much the joy as the relationship.  The principles of the Word work in life as effectively as they work in the barn.  And the joy of seeing God at work usually keeps my heart singing.  He is my heart desire and usually my preferences coincide with His.  I don’t even know that lurking below the surface is that flesh nature simply indulging itself…not sacrificially worshipping at all.

Those times of failing offer the best potential for transformation!

But yesterday, Gretchen and I had a different agenda.  My preferences were not the rule of the day, and my idols bubbled to the surface.  With my preferences pre-empted, I lost my focus on the One who determines everything.  His goodness didn’t change.  His principles didn’t change.  But I forgot to look at them…and failed to implement them.  It’s the blindness we all experience…but Jesus heals!  Infections have to be exposed and cleaned. I am so thankful for how my animals help with that process.

What we don’t see (or feel) can’t be confessed and released.  

God knew my weariness from the week.  He knew my family was waiting for me to get home for dinner.  He also knew I battle being self-centered; I tend to people-please.  Those things interfere with being a surrendered servant.  They need to go.  In His goodness, he used Gretchen to expose them in me.  In her goodness, she worked me over and through them until we implemented some biblical principles of respectful relationship.  Now it is my work to be sure I implement them in my faith walk.

All of life offers us opportunity to experience transformation.  We are all on a journey to becoming like Christ.  

How does God help you see and feel the things He wants to change in you?



It’s too much. We can’t do it.

“This place is a wasteland.  Send them on, Jesus.  

There’s not enough here to meet our needs…let alone their needs.”

Do you ever look around your world and feel like that?  The problems and the heartaches seem too big.  The resources too meager.  You’ve seen miracles…seen Jesus work but now you are tired.  That’s the picture I see in Matthew 14.  It reminds me that the end of my resources is the doorway to knowing more about my Savior!

Wastelands appear when human wants rule.  King Herod launched this set up by getting what he really wanted…to kill the one who said he was wrong for what he was doing.  But the will of the Father is never subject to the whims of man.

God works within our broken world to reveal Himself.  Watch Jesus.

The death of John the Baptist grieved Jesus’ heart.  He set out to spend time with the Father.  But the Father’s plan wasn’t a quiet prayer time.  The crowds followed and Jesus’ heart moved with compassion.  He spent the day healing all those who were sick and broken.  As evening approached, the disciples were done.  The practical need for food loomed large–and blinded them to the power of the One who saves.  They had seen miracles all day but didn’t seem to think Jesus could help with simple subsistence.

Ever been there?  The bills climb higher than the checkbook balance.  The demands on your time outrun the clock.  The hurts of life squeeze hope out of your heart.  The passage in Matthew shows the solution.  Lift up the meager resources you see and watch God multiply them.  There is enough because HE is enough.  

When everyone was filled, they went on home.  Jesus sent his disciples into the wind…into a struggle against the wind and the waves.  THEN, Jesus moved on with His plan…to spend time with the only One who can make things right in the world.   It would seem that the Father gave Him a new assignment for the story just gets better!  After time with Abba, Father, Jesus went to His struggling disciples.  Fatigue gave way to fear as they saw Him walking on water toward them.  He whom they had watched deliver people all day…healing and providing for needs…was not recognized.  Jesus simply reminded them, “I am the One who saves His people.”

Oh, how we forget that!  The problems of life choke us.  The world feels like a wasteland sometimes…but Jesus.  He came to save.  Will we trust Him like Peter did?   Will we trust Him enough to fail?  Look at what Peter says…

“If it’s really you, tell me to come to you.”

Jesus said, “Come.” ‘Walk on water to get to me…do whatever it takes but come to me.’  That’s what I hear.  Trust me enough to step into reality that you do not control because I am the One who saves.

That’s scary stuff there.  Failure is the only option in the human realm.  And truth is, Peter failed victoriously because He did what Jesus said; He stepped out.  The fact that fear gripped him as he looked around is a side result that opened the door for Jesus:  the One who came to save.

Matthew 13

That all will know Jesus is the only result that matters in this world.  When we will trust Him like Peter did, others will know and worship Him with us.  Look at verse 33:  And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

What is God asking you to trust Him for today?