Last week was a difficult one for me spiritually. At a conference I came face-to-face with my greatest temptation – to be known, valued and deemed important by the people I admire – and I succumbed to that temptation. Again. It was painful and disheartening, and I left the conference not only questioning whether I was capable of living out my calling as a Christian writer, but also unable to hear God. I felt like a dried-out husk, empty, brittle and alone.
That’s why I was particularly surprised when I awoke the next morning and suddenly began to see God everywhere. In the rising sun illuminating the elm leaves in my backyard a brilliant gold. In a boy wrapped in a fleece blanket and cocooned against my side on the couch. In a man and his dog jogging jauntily past me on the path.
At first I thought it was simply that the noise of the conference – the people and the speakers and the worship music – had dissipated, allowing a more contemplative gratitude to slide into place. And that was part of it for sure. But later, after I read our lesson for today, I realized it was something more.
I like to read The Message version of the Bible, particularly for a passage I’ve heard over and over again, like the Beatitudes. When I read today’s lesson – “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God” – in my usual translation (New Living), I didn’t come away with much. I struggled to dig beneath the language that was as familiar and comfortable as my favorite sweater.
But then I opened The Message and read this:
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” (Matthew 5:8)
The Message infused the familiar verse with a new, fresh and more personal meaning. Suddenly I understood what a “pure heart” meant – not simply unblemished and unflawed, but transformed, realigned and made right again.
In the airport between connections and on the flight home from the conference, I’d had a heart-to-heart with God. In that process, he began to untangle the threads of sin that had wrapped themselves so tightly around my heart. God did some hard work in my heart and mind during those hours in transit, work which ultimately helped clear the path back to him.
I didn’t realize it at the time – that’s often the way it is when God is working hard in me – but by the next morning, my heart and mind, my inside world, were put right: realigned with and focused on God. And with my inside world put right, I was finally able to see God in the outside world again.
Questions for Reflection:
Can you think of a time when you had to get your heart and mind put right in order to really see God? What impediments in your life right now might be blocking your ability to see him?
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