My daughter in Chicago is an example of strength and encouragement to me. A few years ago she completed her Ph.D. in Psychology and promptly passed one the most grueling exams to pass her licensure test for becoming a Psychologist. She was asked by Moody Bible Institute to become the director of their psychology program in making it licensable in state of Illinois. She has had to develop curriculum for the program as well as hire professors that can teach the classes along with teaching classes herself.
Her most recent challenge has been to buy an older home that was gutted from the third floor to the basement. All new electricity and plumbing was put into this house, and then the owner stopped restoring it because of family problems. This is where she stepped in. She bought a house that was unlivable and is in the process of restoring this old house. House restoration. From top to bottom. Hiring contractors. Securing a building permit. Restoring a house to its former glory. Time and materials. House restoration.
Over seven years ago I started a small group bible study from new people who attended our church. We intended it to run for 7-10 weeks, but after 10 weeks, the people coming didn’t want it to end. People have come and gone due to move changes and other circumstances in their lives, but we are on our eighth year of meeting weekly. About a year ago the pastor encouraged people to meet together and share food with one another. We took on the challenge and started by hiring a friend of mine who was a chef to come and cook us a gourmet meal. That was the start of a weekly tradition of breaking bread with one another.
We still meet weekly and have a theme for the food that we eat. Tomorrow night is breakfast night where everyone comes with something that resembles what one might eat at breakfast. I am making chocolate chip Mickey Mouse pancakes for those who want the Disney theme. After supper we go into the living room and focus on the theme of “heart restoration”. We are taking passages related to the “kingdom of God (heaven)” and seeing how they can impact our daily thinking and restore our hearts.
This week we are focusing on one of the beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” As I have looked at passages about the heart, I came across one in Joel that I thought worth pondering. “Even now,” declares the Lord,”return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel 2:12, 13 NIV) The Lord is speaking through Joel in telling the people to “return to (the Lord) with all or your heart. It seems that a heart divided has multiple desires is contrary to His desire. He wants all of our heart solely focused on Him and His plan for our lives. It is similar to what Jesus was saying in the beatitudes when he blessed those whose heart was pure and not convoluted with other desires or idols.
Joel tells us that the way to have a heart fully focused on God is by fasting, weeping and mourning. Jesus gives us a similar message by saying that people are blessed when they are poor in spirit and who mourn. Humility and humbleness come when we contemplate our choices in life we regret, our attitudes we have that are displeasing to Him, and actions that eventually cause us to come to dead ends. It’s at this point that we are ready to take on a pure heart that is totally devoted to serving the Master.
On this journey, transformation of the heart only happens when we take a sincere evaluation of our heart and seek to cut out areas that divide our focus. Purity is what the Savior is looking for.