A Beggar's Stubborn Heart!

I envision myself in a room. The wallpaper curls from the walls like scoops of ice cream. The paper is a faded puke green color; mold hugs the baseboard as if it were the glue that held the walls together. The floor is planked. Half inch spaces display blue-gray water lapping at the posts supporting this fragmented vessel. The air is acrid. The smell of decay burns my nose and causes my eyes to water.

In the left hand corner sits a strong box to which only I have the combination. It sits in stark contradiction to the shambles surrounding it. The weight of it alone threatens the demise of this decaying room. Inside is my heart – throbbing, pounding, hurting, & preserved.

This is how I deal with the fall - the loss of Eden. I self-preserve. I put up the walls that no man would dare breach.

It is how I have dealt with pain, hurt, heartache all of my life. If I could cut it off at the pass, somehow control it, then I could marginalize the damage. If I simply did not open my heart wide to hope then I could never be found hopeless.

I savor control. It is a sumptuous meal.

I’m so utterly and exhaustibly tight fisted over self-preservation & control that I miss out on the rich and delicious blessings of God.

Where I work in the bounds of logic – He works in the bounds of the impossible.

Where I work in the bounds of comfort – He cares far too much about my character than my comfort.

Where I work in the bounds of “human love” – He is love manifest and true.

I’m afraid of being disappointed by Him, so I don’t ask for anything too big…to great!

It is as if I have placed Him in a discarded cardboard box. Then, with great determination, I wrapped the entire box with Duct Tape. In my feeble idea of God, idol worship in and of itself, I think this box with Duct Tape will hold Him.

Easter morning I received a gift that began to break down the walls I built. While, no man alone could have breached them, God used an obedient servant to cut a deep crack in the infrastructure. He did this so that He might tumble the wall, smash open the strong box, and allow His loving mercy, grace, and Sovereignty in…changing me…forever!

In order to complete the story I must take you back to that musty room.

I knew a visit to the dentist was something I was going to have to do. I had already been rationalizing how I would pay off whatever procedure the dentist needed to do…

I had a cracked tooth. This would require a crown…I was looking at $1,000. I had roughly $700 saved.

As I was driving home I was talking to myself & God. I was already working out His answer for me. I was frustrated, angry, & hurt. Was I EVER going to get a break? I was sick of everyone saying, “God will provide!”

In my frustration I said, “You know God, why can’t someone other than my family give me money to help me out of a situation, huh? I see other people handed money all the time. My parents do so much for me, & I’m grateful, but they can’t support me for the rest of my life!!!”

Immediately I felt guilty. I backtracked, “Lord, I know you just don’t work that way with me. It’s okay. I will be just fine.”

I didn’t think another thing about it until I was sitting in my car after Sunrise Service, opening a letter that a dear sister in Christ had given me. I saw the money, but didn’t dare count it. The top bill was $1.00 in value.

The note read:

Melissa,

I just love you to death and am so glad God led you to Northside! I love seeing you live out your faith day by day. I know God has great things in store for you. I am thankful that God put me on the other end of giving today. He has provided for us in unexpected ways again and again. Our God is faithful! My aunt sent me money a few weeks ago & I asked God how to use it – He laid several things on my heart – you being one of them! I love you & hope this helps with the dentist bill!

I’m crying again as I write these words. I was absolutely a weeping blubbery mess in my car. Yet, I was still reserved. I expected maybe $25 or $50. With trembling hands I counted…1…2…3…$307 to be exact. What I needed to pay the rest of my dental bill. I was utterly humbled and ashamed before the throne room of God. If I could have lain prostrate before Him I would have. It was beyond measure. He had opened the flood gates. He had heard my cry, despite my bitterness, and worked a miracle in my life. He took me quickly to the “bananas”…

In the book “Evidence Not Seen” by Darlene Deibler Rose she recounts her story as a missionary spending years in a Japanese POW camp. I have to share the “bananas” story with you now.

She had been falsely accused of passing on intelligence, which landed her in a pit of a cell with only a small window. She was beaten daily, malnourished, and suffered from dysentery and other illnesses…She sees bananas being smuggled in and prays…

“Lord, I’m not asking You for a whole bunch like that woman has. I just want one banana.”

“Lord, just one banana.” Pg. 148; Evidence Not Seen, Rose.

Then, she immediately starts rationalizing that God couldn’t possibly give her a banana.

A few days later she gets a visit from the camp commander, Mr. Yamaji. He sees that she is sick, then leaves.

She hears the guard coming back down the hall. She fears a beating because she forgot to bow, which was always expected…instead this is what happens…

I heard the guard coming back and knew he was coming for me. Struggling to my feet, I stood ready to go. He opened the door, walked in, and with a sweeping gesture laid at my feet – bananas! “They’re yours,” he said, “and they’re all from Mr. Yamaji.” I sat down in stunned silence and counted them. There were ninety-two bananas!

In all my spiritual experience, I’ve never known such shame before my Lord. I pushed the bananas into a corner and wept before Him. “Lord, forgive me; I’m so ashamed. I couldn’t trust You enough to get even one banana for me. Just look at them – there are almost a hundred.”

In the quiet of the shadowed cell, He answered back within my heart: “That’s what I delight to do, the exceeding abundant above anything you ask or think.” I knew in those moments nothing is impossible to my God. – P. 150; Evidence Not Seen, Rose.

I knew in that moment as well that God smashed the strong box. I would never go back to the decaying room again. My heart was replanted deep inside of me. Something painful and beautiful broke inside of me. I was awash in His waves – His utter and complete delight over me. This is what He desired. He desired for me not to close myself off. He desired to provide for me…I knew, as Darlene had, in those moments nothing is impossible to my God!

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