Today, I’m working on my heart. Oh, but that was yesterday, too, and for sure the day before that. I seem to be in an ongoing battle for the consistent joy I desire. Some days its easy to have an attitude of gratitude. Some days simply waking up is enough to start me complaining. As the days shorten, the rain and snow fall intermittent, the dogs bring the dirt and drizzle dripping through the door, shoes litter the entry and pile neglected underfoot, I come to a realization. I have not kept a quiet heart, but find myself living in a place of unrest. I have been ignorant of the level of my discontent until I listen to my own voice time after time, unrelenting in its disapproval. Oh, I can make a very decent list of things I’m thankful for at the end of the day, and I repeat the words “thank you” to my husband and children, with sincerity, many times a day, but know that the peace of a grateful heart is not in me. It’s as if the words are needed as proof of what I’d like to be true.
The Bible describes the Christian life as a race that needs to be run with endurance (Heb. 12:1) and in such a way as to win (1 Cor. 9:24). So I determine that I have been coasting and that is no way to win. I need to pick up the pace and leap this hurdle and finish victorious. I run what feels a frantic pace into a gale force wind that leaves me striving and exhausted but having gained no ground. The only marker I’ve reached is labeled Frustration and Failure. And agitation seems to be all I can muster. I know I need the strength of another, and I think He is the One I’m pursuing. He is the reason I’m running. I keep calling His name and reaching for His hand, but feeling it all lost in the wind. Then suddenly it comes to me, and my falling frame is lifted. I am not running the race to find Him. He is already holding me. (Psalm 63:8 & 73:23). “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you [God] hold my right hand.” And He says to me, “‘Be still, and know that I am God […]’ The Lord of hosts is with us…” (Psalm 46:10) Just like that the wind has subsided. I am at rest. The race has not ended, but I am no longer running with my legs. Like one who runs and won’t grow weary, I am lifted on the wings that also are my shelter (Isaiah 40:31 & Psalm 91:4). I do not need to frantically strive to overcome my character flaws. It never gets me anywhere. I simply need to ask Christ. Christ is my salvation and my champion. He fights the battle. He runs the race. He carries me in His arms, and someday it will be across the finish line, complete in Him.
This changes everything. I can’t help but be thankful. The attitude of gratitude comes without effort when my eyes are fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith (Heb. 12:2). Tomorrow, I will not be perfect, but I will be forgiven; and my heart will be known by God, who will lead me in the right direction. (Ps. 139:23-24). Tomorrow, by God’s grace, I will rest in His unfailing love and His purpose that He promises to fulfill for me. (Psalm 138:8). Tomorrow, God is working on my heart, just as He has been all along. (Phil. 1:6).
©Erika Rice 2015