As I lay there staring at spackling, an old reminder came to mind. It’s comes from a book with a forgotten title and page number. My reminder came like this:
The depths of a person’s soul, their very heart, is what God is after. Some may say that talking about “getting a good heart” is tricky, but that’s not right. God desires to form for himself a people (a person: me) to be the kind of person who naturally expresses a new kind of life. Actions and words (and inactions) all find their origin in the heart. What I do comes from the depths within (or the lack thereof).
Some say you can have a good heart but not right action. That’s not true either.
Others will say, “Don’t worry about the heart, just do the right action.” I counter: a married man ought not just think about the right gift to bring his wife, but also the reasons and desires for bringing it. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to arrive at that elderly age when you just know what to say and do and bring for your spouse – it’s like the deliberation has faded and you’re just that in love?
At that, how do we become the kind of people who live and express the kind of life God wants to nurture within us? I think it takes practice, it takes exercise, it takes surrender. I think it starts by looking at Jesus and imitating him. As we practice along (best done with others) I believe (and I’ve sensed in myself) a renewed ease with some elements of living the kind of life God desires to have within us.
So, we don’t just aim to do the things Jesus said; we aim to be the kind of person inside and outside that Jesus was and is. And, I think at the core, this is a grace thing. It’s not something I can create within myself. My own imitations will most likely be glorious failures a lot of the time. My imitations are not the goal, my character is (yet, like I wrote above, imitation shapes character and character shapes us toward a more true imitation in time)
…and in this, I think (and I hope) that God works in such an unfortunate garden as my soul. I hope the same for others too.