Heal My Wayward Heart

“My wayward children,” says the Lord, “come back to me and I will heal your wayward hearts.” —-Jeremiah 3:22, NLT

I want my heart healed.  It is no pleasure trip to wander around in a barren wilderness of my own making.

I know this sounds like a plea of desperation. In a way, I suppose it is, but not the way many may think.  I’m not on the brink of despair, filled with pain from old wounds, trying to tread water in an abysmal sea of darkness.  At least, I don’t think I am.  I’m just…tired of being lost and aimless.

I’m wandering, because I am still wayward.  After all these years.

When we read the Books of Moses and the rest of the OT regarding Israel’s waywardness, we tend to roll our eyes and scorn their unfaithfulness.

I mean really…the ancient Israelite’s had tangible, verbal, and OBVIOUS proof of God’s dwelling among them – pillar of fire anyone? Pillar of smoke? It’s not like they merely had just old tongue-tied Moses to lead them. They had powerful manifestations of God’s presence…and still…they turned their backs on Him.

I have had powerful experiences too – nothing as dramatic as a pillar of fire, but obvious and undeniable proof of His love for me in my life…and yet…I am still very prone to wander.  For long periods of time.  In near darkness.

“Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love…here’s my heart please take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.” I get hung up on earthly brambles and briers – false teachings that slickly mimic truth, discouragement and disgust with the political leanings and emphasis of the church that have nothing to do, really, with the state of our standing with Father God….a feeling of lost faith and hopelessness…being tripped up by my own failures, sins, and shortcomings.

I don’t want a faith made up of cliches and trite platitudes…(another blogger pegged it “bumper-sticker theology” and I love that.)  I want my faith to be real – not something you find on a calendar.  I don’t want to question who God is or what He’s doing anymore – I just want to taste and see that the Lord is good, and be satisfied with that.  I don’t want to wonder if I’m really saved, or just a goat in sheep’s clothing. (What’s wrong with goats anyway? I think they’re uber cool.)

I just wanna be in the green pastures, beside the still waters…with my soul restored.  Shatter this broken vessel, O Lord, and create a new me.  One that pleases You, one that puts You before everything else in my life, one that loves the people I dislike…one that trusts You, listens for You, yearns for You.

Washing Feet

I read an excellent little musing on the ceremonial “foot washing” that occurs in some churches at this time of year.

Meant to pay homage to the example Jesus set forth by taking on the role of the lowliest servant by sitting down to wash the filthy feet of his disciples, the ceremony as practiced today is quite different.

Dirty FeetBack in bible times, foot washing was a necessity given the vulgar conditions of people’s feet after traveling the dirty streets of Palestine in nothing but sandals, or perhaps barefoot. These were the feet that stepped in dung, among other elements.  Upon entering a home it was necessary to wash feet to avoid tracking the filth of the day all over.

This task was often done by servants.  Jesus was teaching His disciples that they should never consider themselves above others and to serve them even if the task is unpleasant and distasteful.

In modern ceremony however, most people partaking in such an event more than likely

Washing Clean Feet

Washing Clean Feet

come to church with their feet sparkling clean and the foot washer does not really have to “wash” anything.

My challenge is to take this real lesson from scripture and apply it in a practical way for today.  People generally do not traverse the highways and byways barefoot and most “normal folk” do not have servants to perform menial tasks that are “beneath them.”

But what about the single mother who is facing losing her children because she can not keep order in her household due to working every waking hour to eke out a living? How about pitching in with babysitting for free or bringing by groceries?

What about the “cat lady” who smells bad – how about giving her a ride to the doctor or to the store, even if it makes your car smell afterward?

Would the eager partakers of a “foot washing ceremony” be as willing to do things such as these?  If yes, then the lesson of the foot washing has been learned and applied as Christ intended.

If not, then something needs to change – from within.  It’s not about the feet. Partaking in a rite for the sake of ceremony is worthless, apart from having “real works” to back it up.

James 2:14-26 (New King James Version)

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[a] works, and I will show you my faith by my[b] works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?[c] 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[d] And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

It’s about the heart.  As always.

Karen Rice, AKA Wizzy

Wond’ring About My Wand’rings…

Yesterday, I was wishing I had an old fashioned journal – the kind you have to physically write in, with your own handwriting.  Actually, I’ve wanted one for a long time in spite of the several that I’ve started over the years and never finished.  Having something to jot thoughts down in is really a great thing.

I wish I had thought to chronicle not only the brilliant bursts of thought and spiritual revelation (on all too rare occurrences, to be sure) but also just to record the ordinary and seemingly mundane details about life and thoughts I’ve had throughout the days.

I wish I had thought to take more notice of my town – my small town of Hawley that seems, on the surface to remain ever the same, yet upon close inspection, has undergone many changes over the course of my life.  As it has slowly evolved.

I wish I had taken pictures of Brown’s Pharmacy (though a picture could never capture the interesting way the place smelled – like bandages, iodine, and perhaps, Vicks VapoRub), The Hawley Department Store (to be fair I probably didn’t even have a decent camera when that store was open for business, but I remember it….and miss it), and Smith’s Ice Cream Parlor before they closed and their spaces were reinvented.

Did Hawley change for the better? Or merely change?

Likewise, I wish I had taken note of my own evolution, spiritually as well as just plain mentally.  Were I to look closely at my journey, perhaps I would be pleasantly surprised at the progress I have made but was unaware of along the way, and is now lost and obscured to me as the details have been obscured.  Or maybe I would be saddened at the lack of growth and maturity I display…

Alas, no record has been kept by me but my Father in Heaven has not missed one detail.  He has seen every stumble, every victory, every heartbreak and every joy.  Not only has He seen these things, but according to His Word, He has been with me (even when I thought I was treading through the darkness and sunlight alone)

Hebrews 13:5 – “Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

Matthew 28:20 – “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

He knows my heart, and he knows every step of this journey that I embarked upon nearly 23 years ago when I made the decision to become a Christain and walk in His ways.  He knows – and forgives – and loves – whether I think He’s paying attention or not.

In 2011 (why do we always do this kind of thing at the end of the year?) I want to know Him better than I ever have. I want to cling to the promises and spit out the fears and doubts that have always plagued me – I guess those fears and doubts were planted inside me in infancy, when my biological father abandoned me and my adoptive father never seemed to accept and love me.  (See my other Puzzle Pieces posts for an explanation if you are so inclined).

I renounce the fears, I renounce the doubts, and I praise Him – I thank Him for not letting me wander too far without calling me back.

Puzzle Pieces: Come In

Puzzle Pieces: Come In

by Karen Keim Rice on Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 1:13am

This week marks the 22nd anniversary of my becoming a born again Christian. Thankfully, I’m a lot smarter now, than I was then. Back then, I think I was actually quite offensive. The Master has worked on me these past two-plus decades, softening my edges and hopefully making me a vessel of blessing rather than sandpaper and splinters to those I come across.

Before I made the decision to be a Christian, I struggled a great deal with “belonging.” So often, I felt like a misfit. My real father (Nick) did not want me. My adopted dad acted like he did not want me. My adopted mom was always trying to change me. The kids at school, with a couple notable exceptions, preferred to laugh at me and exclude me, rather than include me. It really kind of sucked. Pardon the language. (and yes…I will agree and admit that I was not always a nice person at school either. That is to my shame.)

At some point, I think I was 12 or 13, I remember crying on my bed over some hurt – probably a fight with my dad or something. I had gone to Sunday school at the Baptist church in Hawley with my girlhood friend Cindy (one of many Cindys to bless my life) and for whatever reason, decided to memorize Psalm 23. I recalled it that evening through my tears, and in my mind’s eye, I saw that green pasture, and I saw Jesus standing there, motioning for me to “Come!”

To make a long story short, eventually, I did. It wasn’t until years later, but I did. I went to the little Baptist church again, this time as a grown woman who was very broken hearted and in despair. I won’t tell my war stories because frankly, I was a wimp…my life wasn’t so bad. I’m embarrassed to admit how little it took to “break me.” At any rate, I felt I was a fraud. God certainly didn’t want me. And that same Cindy friend coaxed me into going to church with her that night. I went to appease her.

I had been there off and on, so while nobody was a stranger to me, I definitely was a stranger to them. They did not know my story, and if they did, they wouldn’t want me there. The old pastor, gentle, godly Merle Watkins, sat down at the piano and began to play a song that would follow me the rest of the days of my life: Surely Goodness and Mercy.

“A pilgrim was I and a wand’ring, in the dark night of sin I did roam….when Jesus the kind shepherd found me…and now I am on my way home…surely goodness, and mercy, shall follow me, all the days, all the days of my life….”

Wait – Jesus wants me even though I’ve been in sin? Of course. His message has always been…Come. Come in.

Last week I was sitting in church at Lords Valley, thinking of all the trite cliches that churches put on their display boards in hopes of enticing someone on the outside to come in. Well, what if they gave up with the cliches, and just gave that simple message: Come. Come in. You Are Welcome Here.

Once you come in, regardless of where you’ve been and what you’ve done, once you come in, mercy and goodness will follow you.

Yes, it most certainly has. I still screw up. I still bring shame to His name. Yet, He still forgives, He still leads me beside the still waters, He gives me a drink and soothes my soul…and He continues to lead me in the paths of His righteousness. And if I get stubborn, if I wander off, His shepherd’s hook is always there, gently pulling me back. All the days, all the days of my life.

I could not find a really nice version of Surely Goodness And Mercy online. However, I found this old song by Steve Green that fits as well – I have loved Steve Green’s voice for years and years. Enjoy – “That’s Where His Mercy Begins.” I think I even sang it at Cole, the Baptist church once; back in the day, I used to sing a lot. Songs have always been a blessing to me…hope this one will be a blessing to you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju447_6gHt4

More of my Puzzle Pieces Journey, if interested: Click Here

Karen Rice, AKA Wizzy