15 In Faith

Cultivating A Heart Of Love

I heart this treephoto © 2010 Tim Simpson | more info (via: Wylio)


A
s I enter the second week of my 21 day fast, my heart has been stretched.  I feel vulnerable, raw and tender.  In this place of voluntary weakness, my desperation for God is something I cannot ignore.  My need of Him has risen to the forefront. Apart from Him I can do nothing.  This week, I am more aware of the groaning inside my spirit to know this Man Jesus.

My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
   for the living God.  (Psalm 84:2)

I
‘ve grown closer to the Lord this last week, yet there is an internal struggle to stay in the place of prayer.  There are so many other things that are demanding my time and attention.  As a wife, mother and ministry leader, I cannot ignore these other things.  Yet, I understand the importance of continually seeking His face in order to receive the fuel that I need to do these other things well.

One thing I have learned is that my love for God and this 1st commandment lifestyle must be cultivated.  In Mike Bickle’s teaching, “Becoming A Person of Extravagant Devotion” he says,

“We must consciously carry our hearts. We must consciously cultivate a spiritual atmosphere in our hearts and in a way that we are more responsive to God. God wants to enable us to be responsive to Him in love. This anointing to be able to respond to God in love is not something that is automatic. It is cultivated. The ability to respond to God in love is cultivated. It is cultivated deliberately. It takes time to cultivate it, and it does not come automatically. What happens is that our love for God diminishes? If we do not invest in growing in love for God, our ability to respond to God in love diminishes. …The ability to respond to God in love is something we cultivate. It grows, it increases, or if it is something we do not pay attention to, it decreases.”

I have been faced with my lack of God this last week.  I have felt a little edgy, a little stressed, a little out of sorts. As I turn my attention to God, I have a heightened awareness of the condition of my own heart. My selfish attitudes, negative thoughts and wrong views have all risen to the surface and are staring me in the face.  I’ve been forced to look at my weakness.  I want to cultivate my love for God, but how do I do that when I am faced with myself — my lack, my weakness.  Even so, I must continue to be diligent and purposeful in my pursuit of God.  I must set aside time each day to be with him.  It’s not about doing for God, but being with God.  This is where I am changed, by simply being in His presence.  This year, I want to learn how to “be” in the presence of God without feeling like I have to do something for Him.  Anything that is cultivated takes time.  A garden does not grow instantly. Once the seeds are planted, it is watered, nurtured, tenderly cared for.  Every now and then the Master Gardner has to come and weed the garden in order to allow it to produce more fruit.

I must invest my life in cultivating my love for God.  Mary of Bethany had the right idea.  When Jesus came to visit, she stopped everything she was doing and chose to sit at His feet and minister to Him. Her sister, Martha, got upset and began to complain to Jesus that Mary wasn’t helping her.  Here is Jesus’ response to Martha:

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Mary was extravagantly devoted to Jesus.  And this type of devotion would never be taken from her.  Mary took the time to invest in her love for her Lord by forsaking her duties to sit at His feet.  Mary will not be known for her works.  Rather, she will be known by her devotion to Jesus.  I want to be remembered as a person who was extravagantly devoted to Jesus.  Nothing else matters.

God has planted a seed of love in my heart.  It is up to me to water it, nurture it, care for it, so that it will grow.  I want to know this Man Jesus, intimately, above all other things.  Will it always be easy?  No.  Will it be worth it? Absolutely, 100%, YES!

(Photo Credit for this blog post here.)

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    caz1975
    January 18, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Love the heartfelt post and your raw honesty as you seek more of God!
    Carolyn 🙂

  • Reply
    Beth in NC
    January 18, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Oh Sister, I understand! I love what you shared by Mike Bickle, "The anointing to be able to respond to God in love is not something that is automatic. It is cultivated." So true!

    I also understand the demands on your time. If I don't deny myself sleep and get up early, it is nearly impossible to find time alone.

    I pray this will be a year of knowing Him even MORE intimately as you seek His face.

    Love,
    Beth

  • Reply
    JillAileenJones
    January 18, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Beautifully written-wish we lived near one another-I would love to get together to visit with you-to pray with you-to just be your friend. You are such a joy to call a friend-your love for Jesus just shines through you.
    I too want to "be" in His presence-not feel like I am doing it just being there-serving Him in every way-be and example of Christ to all those around me. I know I fall so short of that many many days.
    I will be praying for you-praying for your fasting time.
    Thanks for touching my heart with you post today.
    Happy Day!
    Love
    Jill

  • Reply
    Joan Davis
    January 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    To spend time simply in His presence is a blessing that we should all remember. So often we get caught up in what we are doing that we "forget" to develop and nurture our relationship with God. Thanks for the great reminder.

    Blessings, Joan

  • Reply
    Stephani
    January 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I went on a 21 day fast once, drinking only 6 ounces of juice and plenty of water per day for 21 days. I lost 21 pounds, but the best part was what it did for my spirit. There is a peace and intimatcy with God that can be acheived through this type of extended fast that can't be experienced any other way. Not this side of heaven anyway. To describe it to someone who hasn't experienced it is impossible. Denying the flesh for that long puts you so in tune with the only thing on earth that you need, it's just an amazing thing. I hope to do one again before long. ~ I pray for these blessing to come for you in this fasting time and in the year ahead.

  • Reply
    Patricia
    January 19, 2011 at 1:22 am

    I so appreciated and related to your blog. I have ventured recently into the blogging world and have discovered so many beautiful sisters who long for a loving, intimate relationship with our Father. I feel your longing and join you in cultivating this type of relationship. God is calling us to come beyond the veil and experience His overwhelming love. I'm so glad I found your blog! It touched my heart and I will return to hear what else God is saying through you. I'm right there in this wonderful quest!

  • Reply
    Venessa
    January 19, 2011 at 1:56 am

    This is a beautiful post and so true! I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to share it with all of us.

  • Reply
    Kelley
    January 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Love this post and love that picture 🙂 It is amazing how God shows up when we fully seek Him. Praying for you as you continue to seek Him and allow Him to move in you

  • Reply
    Adoption Mama
    January 19, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Barbie, That seed can hurt at times…but we must trust. I look at the scars on my Savior's hands and say, "It is worth it."

  • Reply
    Lea
    January 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Reading your entries are like reading a really good inspirational devotional. Thanks for enriching my soul!

  • Reply
    Cindy Bultema
    January 21, 2011 at 3:15 am

    Thank you for your authenticity and transparency, Barbie. May God empower you with His strength, and open your eyes to ALL He wants to show you during this fast. Praying for you!
    Cindy 🙂

  • Reply
    Janette@Janette's Sage
    January 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Oh Mike Bickle…haven't heard his name in years. Awesome word…last year my word was cultivate…this year I am planting…so this is another confirming word…thanks for sharing and blessings to you!

  • Reply
    Janette@Janette's Sage
    January 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Oh I have to say…I went back and looked at your date…it was Tuesday your posted this, I posted on Friday about prayer, what is so awesome is I came here on Saturday and your words just laced with the ones God has been giving me…what an awesome God that when He speaks so many of us are hearing the same thing and then are encouraged along the journey by someone else speaking the repeated words.

  • Reply
    partialemptynester
    January 23, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Standing in the gap for you, my friend…praying not for strength, but for total reliance on God in your weakened state.

  • Reply
    JillAileenJones
    January 25, 2011 at 4:04 am

    You need to stop over to my blog-I nominated you for an award!
    Love you and your blog!!
    Hugs
    Jill

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