A Few Crumbs…

“Let your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised.”(Psalm 119:41 – paraphrased in “The Message”)

The words reveal the heart and character of David, Israel’s greatest King, and one whom scripture describes as being “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). David was the youngest of eight brothers. He was deemed too young and too small to even be summoned when Samuel arrived at Jesse’s home in search of Israel’s future king. He endured abuse from those same brothers shortly before he felled Goliath. His wife despised him when he expressed extravagant worship before the ark and the congregation of Israel. He was the proximate cause for Saul’s killing of 85 priests from the town of Nob. He was hounded by Saul whom he had sought to honor and serve. As if that was insufficient, he suffered a coup d’état by none other than his favorite son, Absalom. David had many reasons to be bitter and disillusioned with the events of life.

But David understood an important truth that transcended the vagaries that the wind of life blows across our path. He knew that his heart was the control tower of his emotions and attitudes. His heart above all else needed to be shaped by God’s salvation, compassion and love. That meant his attitude needed to be filled with hope despite the circumstances of life. His attitude and emotions needed to reflect an unending stream of kindness to both deserving and undeserving. His feelings could not be allowed to behave rudely either to king or peasant. In short, his heart must prioritize the purposes of God above its own preferences.

Our hearts are shaped by life’s encounters, more than we realize. We remember the failings of others more frequently than we care to acknowledge. Our hearts are too quickly shaped by the circumstances and events of life. The shape they assume determines our destiny both now and eternally. When we avoid making decisive decisions about what will shape our attitudes we de facto leave our hearts open to anything and everything that can mold them. When we prevent God’s love from shaping our hearts, then rules, self-interest and other selfish attributes attempt to achieve what a gracious heart would have selflessly accepted. Our hearts too quickly become prison doors locking in resentment, anger and fear, and shutting out forgiveness and reconciliation. The doors can still be unlocked if we are willing to appeal to Him who has the keys.

The love of God is able to make us bigger than we ever imagined. The love of God shapes us to stand when reason tells us to flee. The love of God shapes us to move forward with courage when anxiety suggests retreat. The love of God allowed David Wilkerson to tell Nicky Cruz, the gangster of Harlem, “You can cut me into a thousand pieces and every piece will shout ‘Nicky, Jesus loves you.'”

Jesus shaped the events of history in AD 30 and He is still doing so 2000 years later. Imagine how He could really shape us if we allowed Him? Anger would give way to gentleness, bitterness to sweetness, pain to joy, hatred to forgiveness, and alienation to reconciliation. The start of that glorious journey is a bowed head and a willing heart that calls out, “Great God of mercy, let your love, through Christ Jesus, shape my heart.”

Steve

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