As 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.
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.)