#391: Fingerprints: The Condition of the Heart

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Reflections by the Pond
April 20, 2009

The Condition of the Heart

For the spiritually minded believer, everything points to God. God is all in all, and if we so choose to seek Him, we will find Him wherever we look.

Well, you silly goose. Do something! I thought as I crouched in the early morning chill on the near side of the pond. The temperature was still in the thirties, and I wasn't dressed for being outside for long. But the Canada goose standing on the opposite shore was too perfectly posed for me not to slip out into the early morning damp to shoot a few pictures of him. As a model, however, he fell considerably short of "super" status. The most I got out of him was an occasional head-turn, but the rest of his plump body remained as still as a marble statue.

At long last, with the dampness seeping through my sneakers and my bare arms numb with cold, I gave up. I rose and began to walk up the rise, back to the house, grudgingly content with but a few static images of the large goose.

Just then I heard a thunderous fluttering behind me. The coy waterfowl had just been toying with me, waiting till I turned my back before going into action. I turned quickly, raising the camera to my face. I panned with the launching goose, and as he passed just a few trees away, I snapped the shutter. Then once more as he departed the property.

And I thought about the old hymn, Sometimes a Light Surprises.

Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises with healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation we sweetly then pursue
The theme of God's salvation, and find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.

William Cowper

° ° °

Sometimes we stand there waiting for God to do something. We wait. And we wait. And to us the Lord seems as blank and motionless as a granite statue. Do something! We plead, but it seems as if He has turned off His hearing.

And then, just about the time we figure our heavenly Father has lost all interest in us—just about the time we have turned away from our determined expectancy—He surprises us by His grace. He takes wing and reveals His beauty, His undying love for us—and His flawless timing.

Being Equipped

At its root, the ability to discover God in everything around us really comes down to the condition of the heart. Is God in His fullness a true and substantial part of our life? Or is He just someone we meet with for an hour or two on Sunday mornings?

"Tell the house of Jacob this, put out this bulletin in Judah:
Listen to this, you scatterbrains, airheads,
With eyes that see but don't really look,
and ears that hear but don't really listen.
Why don't you honor me?
Why aren't you in awe before me?"

Jeremiah 5:20-22a The Message

Because God is gracious—in personality, in behavior—He will let us slide by, meeting with Him only occasionally at utterly predictable times. In His grace, He gives His children permission to live pretty much on their own. God does not press His affections, He does not force us into holy intimacy, but permits us the self-injury of living with His Spirit, but not by His Spirit.

Nothing of God is diminished by our behavior. But we are.

° ° °

Believers who spend little time with their Lord are ill-equipped to discover Him in their surroundings. Having little knowledge of His personality, they fail to recognize Him when He draws near; having little experience with His behavior, they miss the evidence when He works in their midst.

"The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist..."

Acts 17:24-28a

The spiritually minded believer—one who actually listens to the Spirit dwelling within—is better equipped to identify the personality and work of God in unexpected places at surprising times. The believer's "sixth sense"—the Holy Spirit—quickens the other five to detect the hand of God in the otherwise mundane temporal occurrences all around us.

The condition of the heart determines whether we discover God at every turn, or miss His handiwork and life-lessons all together.