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  • Candace Erickson

A Softened Heart

Hello Friend,


Every once in a while my husband will come up behind me while I'm sitting at our kitchen counter to give me a hug. I do a quick two second adjustment - I sit up straighter, suck in my tummy, and adjust my lounge pants to disguise my lil muffin top. My husband hates when I do that, but I do it anyway. And then I giggle a little.


We women have all sorts of tricks to pull things in, tighten things up, and gird ourselves. There are girdles, spanx, sports bras, firming creams, and plastic surgery. We exercise to firm up from the inside out. (And by “we”, I mean you.) Not only that, but we often do the same to our hearts: we protect them, put up walls to keep them from being hurt, and often hide what’s deep inside of them. The firmness of my own heart was recently brought to my attention, but more on that later.


When I was younger, I wasn’t concerned about wiggles and jiggles and firming things up. That was true of my heart as well. My heart was soft and free. This could be seen in the way I played with my Barbies. I would spend hours weaving stories of life, birthday parties, and love. My Ken doll made a fine prince/hero in spite of his arms falling off during wardrobe changes. (I blame my sisters.) I faintly remember “borrowing” my sister’s plastic horse for Ken to come riding in on. Oh, the fantastic adventures we had!


The whole fairy tale scenario, a sentiment many of us shared as young girls, seems to be tarnished or removed altogether by life over time. But I wonder if God is the one who originally placed all those blissful ideas in the core of our soft youthful hearts. Are all those familiar fairy tales evidence of yearning for His story?


Reminiscing about my youth stirred something deep down in my heart. And Jesus met me there. I thought about our story, and my heart caught sight of His vast love for me and became full. The Prince of Peace loved me first. He came for me. He rescued me.


And then those “firm up” thoughts came back saying, “watch those feelings and don’t get too emotionally carried away!” (Say what?!!!) Logic/intellect, wounds from human love, and not wanting to get our hopes up shadow the extravagant love that is God. I felt my heart get all spanxed up again. Humph.


That whole experience opened my eyes and showed me the condition of my heart. How often do I come before God with my heart protected? We tell ourselves we need discernment and wisdom when we go about our daily life. We need to protect our hearts, so we aren’t tossed around by feeling alone. And our faith needs to be based on more than just emotional encounters, as our hearts can be deceitful. I get that. But do we take time to uncover and free our heart when we come before our Lord? I now realize, I don’t always.



Our hearts are safe before God. We can let them breathe, feel, be full, and be free before Him. He can handle our emotions. He wants to touch our hearts, guide them, and heal them. He also wants to pour His love into them. I’m trying to uncover that childlike heart once again, the one that easily receives love from my Saviour.


The following is the first and greatest love story. It’s true. It began before time, and it will exist for all eternity.


Jesus came from another kingdom to enter into our fallen one. He took on human form in order to be able to step into our domain as one of us. He saw us first and loved us in our tattered peasant’s garb, scrubbing floors, covered in dirt, and smelling like sweat and other foul things. We didn’t have to get all dolled up and masquerade as a princess to catch His eye. He knew what condition we were in when He left His kingdom, and Friend, He still came.


...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 ESV


Every choice Jesus made on earth reflected the reason He came - to give us abundant life. Every day of His life was lived in light of His mission and His love for us. He pursued us while we were in our pitiful state, imprisoned by our sins, and sentenced to death. Our sentence wasn’t a case of mistaken identity or the innocent being put on trial. We deserved it. The object of His affection deserved death. Instead of looking into our prison cell through those iron bars and telling us good-bye, He took our guilt and death sentence upon Himself, freeing us. The rescue plan included Him suffering excruciating pain and a horrific death on the cross. Jesus knowingly agreed to the terms.


With every great love story, there is always some drama, miscommunication, or misunderstanding. (Have you ever watched a Hallmark movie?!!) That is the place many of us get stuck in. It’s hard to fully grasp God and His love. We might officially be righteous “princesses” now, but we still have peasant tendencies and mentalities that need to be worked out. Throw in a very real villain who is out to destroy us and our relationship with God, and it’s no wonder that sometimes we have problems opening our hearts to Him. Thankfully, we are not alone. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to keep us company and help us in this (and in so many other ways) while He went to make a place for us. And like the wonderful ending to all those beloved fairy tales, our story will also have a “happily ever after.” We will spend eternity together, and we will finally see God, Jesus, this relationship, and everything else as they truly are.


For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. I Corinthians 13:12 ESV


Until we get to that point though, remember: we have a book of letters from Him, the Scriptures. God wants us to know Him, His heart, and the future plans He has for us. He wants us to know Him with our minds AND our hearts - to seek Him with both while we wait for Jesus to come again. In the meantime, NOTHING will separate us from His love.


For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 ESV


Maybe this letter seems a bit mushy or over the top. It did at first to me, too. But that’s okay since we are talking about God’s love towards us. It’s greater than any human love we have experienced. If we aren’t overwhelmed by it, shocked at the weight of it, or overflowed by emotion every once in a while, something may be wrong - our hearts may be bound. So in closing...


You have been pursued, fought for, suffered for, and yes, died for. Jesus lived His life in such a way as to open a door for a relationship with you. You are cherished, loved, and known. He has asked you to enter into the greatest love story of all time, the one between the Almighty God and you.


If you have accepted His invitation and entered into a loving relationship with Him, take time to let your heart be soft before Him. If you haven’t accepted His invitation, but would like to, it’s easy. Take a moment to talk to God. In your own words acknowledge your need to be rescued from your sins, and acknowledge that He is the One who can do it. Tell Him that you accept the invitation to be His. Then thank Jesus that because of Him, you are now washed totally clean. You are new. Invite the Holy Spirit to go with you on this new journey, filling you, guiding you, and helping you. Then rejoice! You have just become a citizen of His kingdom! You are His.


And someday Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will return on a white horse.


Your fellow rescued princess,

Candace


P.S. There are many songs God has used through the years to help soften my heart. And there are numerous songs I have serenaded (worshipped) Him with. Two songs came to mind when I wrote this letter: “Just to be with You” by Third Day and “Oh How He Loves You and Me.” You can find them on YouTube. What are some songs that have become part of your love story with God?