The Unoffended Heart

The cross

At Keswick Retreat Center dozens of young people left their burdens at the cross. #Freedom

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…” – Job 13:15

These past two months have been the most trying months in the recent history of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced and participated in some wonderful things, but in the midst of the wonder and the work of the Lord; I have been dealt some serious pain and testing. I ended up in the hospital for a few days shortly after my return from Haiti with Dengue fever. After a quick recovery, I believe because of the prayers of my elders, family and friends; I faced some serious slander and verbal persecution and lost a friend to a misunderstanding. And in the heat of the pressure cooker; all of the dirt, all of the fears, all of the hidden chains that held be trapped in a cage, were exposed.

These past few weeks I have laid bare, naked, exposed before God and before man. The good, the bad and the ugly, hanging all out for all to see. Pain searing the depths of my soul, in ways words cannot describe. Yet the freedom and the eternally valuable lessons I have learned are worth all of the vulnerability, the tears, the loneliness, the fear, and the flesh I have been forced to tackle head on.

 As I lay in my new hospital room, filled with fear because the doctor told me, my kidneys and liver were not functioning, I cried out to Jesus. I asked him to make himself known to me in the room, I asked him to speak to me and I declared with the little bit of strength I had; ” Though you slay me, still will I trust in you… though you slay me, still will I say yes to you God.” Instantly the peace of God filled my worrying heart, and I knew he was right there, next to me, in that hospital bed. And I learned in that instance, that no matter what comes my way, I must have a resolution in my soul, to say yes to God, to trust him with my present and my future. Because he IS GOOD.

 I struggled my entire life with people pleasing, and with the bondage of perfectionism. With the NEED to be liked, accepted and loved by all. I was my toughest critic. I was not allowed to make mistakes. It was not okay for me to disappoint ANYONE. I had to cross every t and dot every i, PERFECTLY. And I felt the need to control what everyone felt and thought about me… Yet these past few weeks, in which I faced all sorts of slander, accusations and arguments, I recognized that even when the ugliest parts of me are exposed before God and man: I AM a LOVED, ACCEPTED, BEAUTIFUL BEING.

But the greatest lesson I have learned is that, in order to live continuously walking in freedom before the Lord,  I must live with an un-offended heart. A heart that does not become bitter or angry with God and man. A heart that  let’s go of the pain and decides to love, to trust, to forgive, to move on, to believe the truth and remain optimistic, even when the world around seems grim.

Having an un-offended heart, is having a heart that chooses to  ” love those who hate you… bless those who curse you and pray for those who persecute you” ( Matt 5:44; Luke 6:28).
 This is by no means an easy task. It can only come when you take all of your junk, offenses and pain to the presence of the living God and hand it to him, like a gift you’d give your best friend.  I have learned that even when I spill out garbage, God is so GOOD and faithful, to clean me up and make me new again. He loves when I trust him with my pain, and my insecurities! AND  He looks beyond my imperfections and He sees what a continual relationship with Him will create in me. And because everyday he makes me new and every day his mercies and grace are available for me to start fresh; I can forgive others, renew my relationships and live with HOPE and FAITH that sees beyond my present situations.
Keswick TeamAn un-offended heart is what enabled me to stand in front of 200 young people at the beginning of the month at Keswick Retreat Center for the Midwinder Advance with a team of Nyack College students, to declare the truth, love and freedom of the Lord over them.  Many accepted Christ and many more leave their burdens at the foot of the cross and walked away with true freedom. An un-offended heart is the reason I can smile, genuinely, at someone who wants nothing to do with me. An un-offended heart, is the reason I can admittedly say, I am not perfect, I will make mistakes, and that is perfectly OKAY!
( The Keswick Dream Team left-right; Esther, Jamie, Boris, Momoko, Eddie, Aaron, Wilkenson, Me, Tyler and Jennifer)
Being an un-offended child of God breathes a freedom in you to be who you are, with no chains of performance or expectations (from yourself and others) holding you down.
The un-offended heart, trusts in the Lord and has faith in HIS WORDS… ( not the condemning, anxiety, accusing, fear filled words of satan)

May we all with unoffended hearts; “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13

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