Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Exchanging My Ashes for His Beauty: Heart Work (Part 4)

It’s funny how God reaches this hard heart of mine. Sometimes it’s through His Word. He’s kept those promises He made to me from Isaiah; He’s never left me. I’ve decided I don’t want to hang onto my hurts and grudges. I want to be the redemptive generation, like Isaiah 58 says:
“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

Sometimes, it’s a comment Pastor Jack will make between points in his sermon. A few months ago, he was preaching out of Colossians. He said, “We need to stop praying for easier lives and start praying to be stronger people.” That was a word from God straight to my hard heart.

Last summer when I was driving back from a visit to my parents in Florida, God reached my hard heart through a song Rich Copeland wrote. The song’s lyrics are all the things God says to the Prodigal Son: “My love will find you even when you walk away. You will always be my child any way you are. And I will watch the road. And I’ll see you coming home. And I will run to you. . . .” I realized then how very much I want God to bring my sister home—to Him, to us, to me. I’ve been able to pray for her—and truly mean it---since that day.

I haven’t been able to pray for Aziz. My heart has been so dead toward him. No hate, no anger---no anything. In my head, I know that Jesus died for Aziz’s sin, too, and that He wants to redeem Aziz just as much as He wants to redeem me. My head would tell my heart that truth, and my heart would say, “Yeah, I know. Whatever.”

This past Easter Sunday, God raised that part of my heart from the dead. It was during the second service, when I was watching the video testimony for the second time. I’d listened to Randy Brandt and Melisa Cassell share about what resurrection meant to them. There was another young man who shared during the video, but I didn’t know him. During the second service, I saw his name under his picture for the first time.

His name is Aziz. He’s a former Muslim who has given his life to Jesus, and I thought, “Okay, Lord. If there’s one former Muslim in the world named Aziz who loves You now, why not two?”

The song we sang right after that was “In Christ Alone.” I stood there on stage, singing the second verse, “For on the cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied, for every sin on Him was laid,” and God whispered, “Even Mohammed’s murder, Candi. Even that.”

I felt my heart crack open. I felt its frozen casing dissolve. I sang, “Here in the death of Christ, I live,” and I walked out of that cold, silent, emotionless tomb I had been trapped in. I prayed for Aziz’s salvation that day—and I really meant it.

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