A Tale of Two Phone Calls

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Over the past week, I’ve had a few phone calls that really stood out from the crowd. Two in particular served to shed new light for me on what it means to live from the heart, and to do so honestly.

O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.

He swears to his own hurt and does not change.
Psalm 15:1-2, 4c NASB

I had a lovely chat with one woman who was telling me how happy she was that she had a day out of the house, and she likened it to a get-out-of-jail-free day. She then said that she had to go to God and apologize because that was a complaint about where He had her right now. She thanked Him for her life. Well, I found the whole thing refreshing and I thanked her for telling her heart’s truth to me.

She could have skipped the backhanded complaint part of the story and gone straight to the gratitude, as if nothing else ever happened. Why do we prefer to trade one shallow, simpering story of superficial goodness for another? That’s what usually happens, you know? Instead, I was encouraged to speak the truth of my heart, too. We connected, and a joyful exchange took place. She spoke the truth in her heart and encouraged me to do the same. It was fun!

Another call was from a young woman who was struggling to process a very recent, and very big wound at the hands of a friend. She was still trying to take it all in and find her footing in a new reality. And as she spoke, I was reminded of something John told me the other day about forgiveness. To paraphrase, he said that God Himself has to show us what we need to forgive, because we don’t always know just what was done that must be forgiven. I think that’s the work of forgiveness – being willing to see what was done, being patient to see ALL that was done, and then surrendering the right of vengeance to God and letting go of the hurt.

Isn’t that what it means to “swear to [my] own hurt?” One of the meanings of the word swear is “to bring into a specified state by swearing.” To acknowledge the hurt makes it very real, and we don’t really like that because it’s messy. When someone hurts me, it is NOT clean—at first. There’s a good bit of screaming, crying, shaking of fists, etc. It’s pretty humiliating even before I tell God how much I want to hit them with my car or throw a pepper-laced drink in their face. It’s very raw, and then comes the choice. Nurse my vengeance, or give it to God? Pet my bitterness, or stay with God? Will I change course, or stay on the narrow way?

Refusing to see the hurt, let alone feel it, is bypassing the truth of the heart and scorning the work of forgiveness. Forgiveness is meaningless if we have not sworn to our hurt, because there’s nothing to let go of without the work of the heart. And if I haven’t done the work of forgiving the hurts God allowed in my life, then I am not forgiven. That’s an awfully high price to pay.

It’s not easy to live honestly, from the heart. As humans, we don’t make it easy for each other, and it can be even worse in the church. When we lie to each other about the reality of sanctification, we either encourage more lies, or we make honest people feel like dirty, wretched gits.

“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” The Cross is death, always death. And death hurts! It can be messy and difficult, even under the best of circumstances, so it’s a gift to be reminded that we’re not alone in this struggle. Let’s not forget the reward, either. Psalm 15 ends with a promise: He who does these things will never be shaken.

Comments:

Posted by LA
March 24, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Wow Jennifer–Thank you for spelling this out!

Reply
Posted by Josh
March 22, 2014 at 11:43 pm

It’s funny how we want to save or protect that which we have already committed to giving up – our own self. And every time we take up for our old man, we are brought back to the cross where we are reminded we no longer belong to ourselves. We belong to Him.

To me, one meaning of ‘forgiveness’ is that I ‘fore-gave’ myself to Him. It’s a definition that is not necessarily correct by Merriam-websters terms, but for me it serves as a reminder that He can do to my flesh as He pleases, no matter how painful. I belong to Him, because I “for-gave” myself to Him at His Cross. He owns not only me but all of my circumstances, and my response to those circumstances. And it amazes me how sometimes the simplest of scenarios can be the most difficult to let go and forgive. Oh, the painful but glorious correction of the Cross.

for-give fərˈgiv to give up rights or ownership to Christ, for His purposes, at a predetermined point in time.

Reply
    Posted by Sam
    March 23, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Thank you for this.

    Reply
    Posted by John Enslow
    March 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Awesome Josh! Ownership is SO huge for the disciple. Truly life or death!
    Love you man!
    John

    Reply
Posted by Irene
March 21, 2014 at 10:40 am

I don’t think I have ever understood what swearing to your own hurt meant – until now. Thank you Jennifer for being a vessel of His revelation to me. Open the eyes of my heart Lord.

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Posted by Tina
March 21, 2014 at 8:51 am

Father heal our hearts in Your love that we may know and trust coming to you honestly with our pain and offenses and let us be that love to others that they too may find the love in and through us to be real and honest. Let Your gentleness lead us to repentance and Your perfect love remove all fear.
I am often reminded of a book that I read called “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilibagiza http://www.lefttotell.com/ in which her life was saved during the Rwandan genocide time after time, after time only as she would follow the Spirit’s command to forgive. Forgive those who were slaughtering babies and her family within earshot. The power of God was miraculous. And as depicted in the movie the Passion Christ love and forgiveness for the men beating Him without mercy with cruel hatred and His victory in not ever moving to protect Himself and never moving from love…never letting fear rule…

Reply
    Posted by Sam
    March 21, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Oh Tina, let it be my prayer too.

    Reply
    Posted by Irene
    March 21, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Amen.

    Reply
Posted by Sam
March 21, 2014 at 5:22 am

Thank you Jen. There are to passages that stood out for me:

1) “Refusing to see the hurt, let alone feel it, is bypassing the truth of the heart and scorning the work of forgiveness. Forgiveness is meaningless if we have not sworn to our hurt, because there’s nothing to let go of without the work of the heart. And if I haven’t done the work of forgiving the hurts God allowed in my life, then I am not forgiven. That’s an awfully high price to pay.”

This reminds me His word… “behold I send you as sheep among wolves”, which means only He can save us from evil and pain, but we must live like children. On our part we are to live “as sheep among wolves”, or a “heart of flesh” living among “hearts of stone.”

The other follows…

2) “It’s not easy to live honestly, from the heart. As humans, we don’t make it easy for each other, and it can be even worse in the church. When we lie to each other about the reality of sanctification, we either encourage more lies, or we make honest people feel like dirty, wretched gits.”

This is so true, Jen. And it is so easy to live untruthful to our true self and self-protected. Personally, I see that to live open-handed means we live vulnerable, and that’s the calling and the work of the Cross.

I cannot do that, but I may “take up the cross.” That I can do.

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