Sunday, September 4, 2011

what we offer (lifting up our hearts)

I haven't been to church in a few weeks. A wedding here, a hurricane there, my own head and heart running away from Him also in the midst of the beginning of school... and here I am, standing in front of the altar. It is the same morning service I've always known, the Rite I, the old elegance. I can recite all the words, eyes closed. I'm in the midst of doing so, when my eyes suddenly snap open.

The words ring out bright and harsh in the early light: Lift up your hearts.

(photo: mandie sodoma)
He wants me to lift up my heart to Him.

I avoid this command. I hold out my heart - to my friends, to the written page, to strangers sometimes. I anxiously offer it to others, asking them to hold it a while, but when have I lifted it up out of my own ribcage into the hands of the One who made it?

I keep a close watch on my heart. I watch each small pinprick - of silence, or of a harsh word, of a disappointed expectation. I make a silent list of the things I don't have (boyfriend, certainty, a plan, a size 0 waist, boundless energy, an abundance of words). I go for a walk with a dear professor and find myself saying, "It's like I'm trying to shove Him out of my heart! Like I'm saying, 'Go on! Get out of here! You won't give me what I want! You won't show me the way!'"

I have been offering God just about everything except my heart. I offer my schoolwork, my ideas, my work. I offer up my plans. I offer up my prayers, my time. I do my Bible studies and read my devotionals. But my heart?
(photo: mandie sodoma)
That I withhold. That I say, no, you can't come in here. I keep the door locked, whispering that I know my own heart better than He could, that He doesn't understand, that He can have all of the external parts of me, but I'd like to keep the life-blood, the alive-ness, the quivering and shockingly beautiful heart to myself.

But this morning, it's my heart He asks for. Not my schedule. Not my money. Not my plans.

He asks me for my self.

He reminds me of what I promised in journal pages in the midst of winter - I will trust in You and Your unfailing love, and I will give You my whole life, my whole self, my heart. It is Yours, O Father, and I ask that Your make Your presence felt there. You promised that You are with us always, and I trust Your promises. 

So I make the reply: we lift them up unto the Lord. 

I take my heart, and all its worries, and all its waiting, and lift it up in my small hands.

(photo: mandie sodoma)
And at just that moment, when all the walls have come down and I shiver to know that I'm giving it up to be transformed, I catch a glint of light caught in the stained glass window. It winks and dazzles, and I hear my heart remember - When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8.12)


1 comment:

  1. I couldn't have asked for a more timely reminder. Thank you, as always, for your words.


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