Summer Refreshment Series* – Live ABOVE the Chaos – Beginning the Process of Living with a Clean Heart
Do you think you have some people figured out? Today’s focus is about how little we really know about people and what God is planning for their future. People are passing my daughter on the street today, for instance, and no one sees her story that led up to today. All that has occurred in her past is now stirred into who she is today. This principle is true of every person on the globe. Let’s never be accused of thinking we have someone figured out, or worse yet, think we know what God is up to with anyone’s life, including ours.
Laurie O’Connor, Live ABOVE the Chaos (Alpharetta: Booklogix, 2014), 147-150.
Neither you nor I can guess what God intends for the future of any person we know, which renders us unqualified to discern what order of events must take place to unravel the past of any of our friends or family members. We must set each other free to address issues in the order God determines. The process is messy, but it doesn’t necessarily mean things are going awry. It could be that God is allowing life to get messy in order to grow that person—to teach him or her about Him, to mature him or
her, or to bring about wholeness.
Previously in this book, I have written about my daughter who was diagnosed with lupus a year before going to college. Over a period of months, her health improved and she was able to enter a university as a student-athlete. But then her life fell apart. She has bravely decided to share in her own words how her freshman year unfolded and how she experienced God’s growth process first-hand:
My mom has spoken about how God allows our lives to unravel in the confines of His love and safety in order to show us parts of our hearts that are blocking Him. I had heard of the process of gaining a clean heart, but had not begun to experience it until the last year of my life. Here is my story.
Soccer was always second nature to me. I had high hopes of going far with my soccer career. When I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus in high school, the hopeful future I had envisioned for myself was suddenly jeopardized. After a long college search with many setbacks and struggles, I still managed to arrive at a Division I school as a student-athlete. My hopes for success in soccer were revived. Within weeks of arriving, however, I became ineligible to play as a result of a back injury. In addition, my blood test results skyrocketed, indicating that my lupus was active. Far from home, I began new medications with scary side effects. My life was out of control. I couldn’t control my injury, my playing time, or my health. But there was one thing I found that I had complete control over, and that was my food intake. I exchanged soccer disappointments and poor health for body image and appearance; I was thinking this would make me happy. After completing only one semester of college, I returned home and entered rehab for an eating disorder.
I couldn’t understand why all of these negative things would present themselves at such a crucial time in my life. I was constantly asking, “When will God do something good in my life?” I now see some of the re-construction He has been undertaking in my heart. Because God loves me, He has taken away the things I had always trusted in to make me feel good about myself. My lonely pit of darkness in college is what prepared my heart for God and His truth to shine into my life for the first time.
I returned back to my parent’s home with an open heart to accept His guidance and plans for my life. Honestly, I began to take my relationship with God seriously for the first time. In addition, I have established a closer relationship with my mom. After nineteen years of letting her advice go in one ear and out the other, I find myself now striving to look more and more like her every day. But one of the most important understandings I have gained through the past six months is that spiritual battle exists. I am learning not to let Satan gain a foothold in my thoughts, but to have my mind constantly filled instead with God’s truth about who I am in Christ. I am beautiful in Christ. My relationship with God has grown drastically since coming home.
I am starting to experience what my mom talks about. Chaos exists around us and even in us, but when we let God grow us through our circumstances, we rise above the chaos by growing more strong and beautiful no matter what. I haven’t suffered like Job, but after all his suffering ended, I have an idea of what he meant when he said, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5). What I have suffered is worth what I’ve gained—more of God.
I don’t know what people are thinking about my sweet daughter or our family as they watch us suffer. My daughter’s story reminds me that none of us are qualified to make accurate assessments about what is going on in the heart of another person or family. In the same way there are Christians who look great on the outside but aren’t doing so great in their hearts (like I was before Dan died), and there are Christians who don’t look so good on the outside, but their hearts are on a healthy path of growth (like my daughter).
Beware of expecting people to tackle layers in their lives based on what you can see and according to your growth schedule and order. We must trust that God is unraveling what blocks Christ, even when God’s efforts are not visible to us. This perspective will prevent us from speaking too loudly, frequently, or carelessly. None of us wants to be a honking idiot.
*Summer Refreshment Series runs from June 10-August 12. Each week, this series will provide an excerpt from Live ABOVE the Chaos, selected specifically to encourage you in the heat of your summer months.
Picture Explanation: The daughter featured in today’s post. Oh, how I love her so. Get ready world. Her story in invisible to all who do not know her, but everyone will see the effects of her story in who she is today and who she will become. Be encouraged that the same is true of you.
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