Yesterday morning before I scurried off to the church service, I sat down in my hammock and asked Jesus to give me clarity. “The word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Heb 4:12. I needed my “innermost thoughts and desires” revealed.
Over the past 2+ weeks, I’ve been following the YouTube channel of a woman named Amena. An Indian woman born and raised in Leicester, England, her perspectives and passions have been the subject matter of much of my inward thought lately. You see, she’s also a practicing Muslim.
I was concerned that all the time and thought I was putting into her videos was wrongly shifting my focus. What started as a desire to further prepare my heart and mind to work with other Muslims could easily transform into an unhealthy fixation. And, knowing how deceptive my heart can be, that transformation of motive could happen without me even noticing. At the deepest level, I want Christ to be my all in all. The center. So I prayed, “Lord, reveal my heart to me. Show me if this isn’t what’s best, what’s wisest. Make this obvious, Lord. I want You to be my focus.” And I pulled on my coat and drove off to the service.
And minutes later I felt His answer. The sermon was based on Ephesians 1, all about grace. How grace is God’s very nature. That He is in no way obligated to bless me, but He still does. Because that’s just who He is. That God has put me “in Christ”, everything true of Him is (miraculously) true of me as well!
As I listened, my mind kept replaying a phrase Amena had said in a video I’d watched just an hour earlier:
“If you work hard to sincerely rid yourself of all of the diseases in the heart that sort of act as veils between you and God — if you really work hard to confront them, to work through them, and to cure them as best you can, that’s the only way you can draw close to Allah.”
I just kept thinking of how she expressed it. Veils. Sheer will power and undying devotion or she won’t get close to God. The ball’s entirely in her court. No help, no pursuit, no intercession.
Contrast that with the grace of the Gospel. I had goosebumps, shivers running down my spine. After looking at a broken perception of God, I found myself moved and humbled when I reexamined Him in His true form. Gracious. Grace itself, really. I could hardly even sing in praise as tears of worship overflowed from within my heart. What could have been a distraction away from God actually pulled me closer to Him. I’m more in love with Jesus now than I was before.
It’s kind of amazing to me how God uses every aspect of my life and ties them all together back to Him. And it all overflows into worship.