'So give yourselves completely to God. Stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you. Come near to God, and God will come near to you. You sinners, clean sin out of your lives. You who are trying to follow God and the world at the same time, make your thinking pure. Be sad, cry, and weep! Change your laughter into crying and your joy into sadness. Humble yourself in the Lord's presence, and He will honor you.' ~James 4:7-10
I'm studying James right now. It's interesting how God can make scripture that is 2,000 years old just stand up and dance right through life with you! His Word is definitely living and active, cutting through straight to the heart.
A couple weeks ago, I went over to the house of one of my Somalian friends to pick her up for a shopping trip. My friend still needed a few minutes to get ready, so her mom asked me to come in and sit with her. My friend's nieces and nephews were all there, and the grandmother kept order from where she sat on a mattress on the floor. Their home is one of my favorites to visit: the walls are covered with beautiful African hangings and scarves, and the floor is decorated with many colorful rugs and mats, yet their home has an airyness to it, and lots of light that I haven't seen in most of our African friends' homes. My friend's mother doesn't speak much English, so we smile our communication instead.
When her daughter came back in the room, she started rattling off in Maay Maay ('My-My': the language of the Somali Bantu, her people) at the speed of lightning and in a tone of concern while gesturing towards me repeatedly. I figured she probably wanted to tell me something, and sure enough, my friend explained to me that her youngest niece had an injury on her leg and her mother wanted me to look at it. Her niece is about a year old, and after many questions and translating from English to Maay-Maay and back, we came to the conclusion that it was a burst blister on her ankle. The grandmother told me that the little girl kept picking at the skin around the blister, and asked if there was anything she could do to help it heal. I took my friend to WalGreens and after confirming with the phamicist on the best way to treat it, we gathered up supplies and I explained to her how to use them. I haven't been back to visit since that day, but I hope to soon be able to go and check on her!
I've been thinking about that experience a lot the past two weeks, as I've wrestled with some things in my heart. Each of us have wounds in our hearts now and then, both self-inflicted and at the hands of others. They may be sins we've committed, or hurts that we've allowed to grow into bitterness and anger. When we constantly think about them, and remember all the gruesome and painful details its like we're picking at a scab and re-opening an injury. We know from our physical wounds that picking at them only makes the healing process longer, and its the same for heart-aches, too. The best way to heal a heart is to give it to Jesus, and let Him pour His cleansing blood over it, and cover it in the balm of His Word. Let Him pick out the dirt and rocks. It hurts, and it's not a pretty process, but in the end the healing is complete.
This is a hard lesson, and one that I've been learning the past month or so. To give myself completely to God, to clean the sin out of my life (all sin, not just the sin I want to clean out), to draw near to Him, to be humble before Him. It's very tempting to not allow Him to have complete reign in our hearts, to shield ourselves from the hydrogen peroxide of His Spirit. I want to share with you some encouraging words that have helped me and reminded me to be strong and finish the race. Jesus died to make our hearts clean and pure before the Father, and I want to continue to accept His washing of my feet to make my walk match up with His work. (John 13:1-17)
'Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don't be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.' Joshua 1:9
'Remember, God is the One who makes you and us strong in Christ. God made us His chosen people. He put His mark on us to show that we are His, and He put His Spirit in our hearts to be a guarantee for all He has promised.' 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
'Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world's darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world. That is why you need to put on God's full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.' Ephesians 6:12-13
'My dear brothers and sisters, always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily, because anger will not help you life the right kind of life God wants. So put out of your life every evil thing and every kind of wrong. Then in gentleness accept God's teaching that is planted in your hearts, which can save you. Do what God's teaching says; when you only listen and do nothing you are fooling yourselves.' James 1:19-22
'When people are tempted and still continue strong, they should be happy. After they have proved their faith, God will reward them with life forever. God promised this to all those who love Him.' James 1:12
'Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you. When a believing person prays, great things happen.' James 5:16