Today I got in my car and drove away from my house alone. Again. However many Sundays there are in 28 years, that’s how many Sundays (minus a few Christmas and Easter Sundays) I’ve been going to church alone.
Almost every Sunday I have to fight the numbness that threatens. Going to church every Sunday can become so routine that you forget exactly why you’re going. It’s just what you do. Going to church every Sunday alone, while the man you love stays home to work on his latest project, throws pain at the numbness that won’t let going to church become a routine. It’s like arthritis of the heart flares up every Sunday, but I’ve gotten used to the pain.
My life circumstance lie to me week after week. They tell me God’s not there. And if he is, he’s can’t reach my husband and sons. And if he does, they wouldn’t embrace him. And at times I find myself lost in complaints, bitterness and blaming like the dwarves from The Hobbit did when they lost their way in the Mirkwood forest. I need to remember what God told Ezekiel to tell the people of Israel when they were generations deep and poisoned in their own Mirkwood forest.
“ I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.– Ezekiel 36:24-28 ESV
God promised to give his people a new heart and new spirit. And he has. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve experienced it myself.
I’m not a Bible scholar, so I won’t go into the when or how the fulfillment of this prophecy happened or will happen for Israel. But I know there was a time in my life that I didn’t care about God. I cared about me. I didn’t want to walk in God’s ways, I wanted God to give me my way. And I don’t know how he did it, really. I mean I know the right theological answer, but I can’t tell you how he made what beats inside of me every day long for Jesus. All I know is, I have a heart I didn’t have sometime before age 16 when I heard Jesus call me to follow him.
And I’ve seen it in my sister’s life. God took out her heart of stone and gave her a tender heart that loves Jesus and people.
I need to remember. I need to believe. I don’t know when or how, but my God is a heart transplantor. He takes out hard hearts like the one I’ve seen resist the gospel for 28 years, and replaces them with hearts that love Jesus.
He’s the only one who can.