I love it when the Lord works a concept of His truth into the depths of our hearts. For me it seems that when the Lord wants to be sure that I understand, His message comes from every angle. From speakers, pastors, conversations, my personal study. It is everywhere and then I know that He is speaking to me.
Recently I gathered some Bible study materials for a friend. It came as a result of a lengthy conversation we had a few weeks ago. In it, I asked her, “Are you absolutely convinced of God’s love for you? Do you ever feel that you are not worthy of His love?”
These are important questions, because even as believers we can wrestle to understand His love for us. If we are honest, circumstances or relationships, disappointments or unfulfilled dreams can make us question. My friend and I talked about how important it is that we not only seek to know the character of God in our minds, as we read and study the Word, but it is so vital that we grab hold of these truths in our hearts. I remember saying to her, “You will never move on in the depth of your relationship with Christ until you are absolutely convinced of His love for you.”
I said that because it has been true in my own life. Years ago, I sensed the Lord speaking to me that I needed to study and meditate on the character and attributes of my God.
I was overcome with a hunger and thirst to know more of Him. My life was full of religious activity and I believed in Jesus as my Savior, but I longed for more.
I knew there had to be more.....
More.....the abundant life!
And so my search began.
Are you hungry to know Jesus?
Are you thirsty for His Word?
My study began with one attribute of His character at a time. The Lord and I started this part of our journey in the riches of His love. I stayed there in the Scriptures on that one attribute until I felt He moved me on to another. It was a very personal search through the Word. Sometimes we would dig in the Scriptures on one attribute for a year or more. There are vast treasures to be opened. My heart needed to be transformed and restored. The Lord and I have moved into many other attributes through the years - His faithfulness, His sovereignty, His grace, His wisdom, His holiness, His peace, His righteousness, His rest..... on and on it goes.
I started a notebook in the beginning and simply wrote down the lessons the Father was teaching me each day about His character. Each week, each year as we journey together I journal what I am learning. Sometimes there are lessons taught through sermons, sometimes through circumstances, sometimes through suffering or the way I observe another living out life. Most often they are found in the treasures of His Word as I dug down deep with a hunger and thirst to know my God.
I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
There have been days, and seasons when it seemed the hunger and thirst were gone. There have been times when I have cried out for the Lord to restore the passion in my heart to know Him more.
I became numb or lazy, or busy. But, always He has drawn me back to this amazing discovery in search of the depths of His character.
He has always been faithful to answer that cry of my heart.
It will never be complete, of course, until I see Him face to face.
Last weekend, I attended a women’s retreat. Throughout the weekend the speaker focused on the things that keep us from knowing God and believing in His goodness. I knew the Lord had something for me since this teaching was so similar to the conversation I had with my friend.
The message of the speaker and author Shelly Volkhardt captured it so well. She said,
“Sometimes our dreams that we hold on to keep us from clearing the space of God’s best for us.“
She talked about the how heartache and broken dreams in her life had birthed this passion to know God more. How she had read through the entire Bible with the lens of looking for all of His attributes and then written them down. She talked about waiting years and years for dreams to come true and said,
“God is developing us, birthing in us the character of Jesus Christ.”
I have not been able to get the reminder of that concept out of my mind.
God is birthing in me the character of His Son!
It is His purpose for our lives. Every circumstance, every relationship is designed to conform us and shape us into His image so that we might be the reflection of His Son in our dark and needy world.
We know that truth. But, are we looking for the work? He is giving birth to the life and character of Jesus in us!
Not only are we to seek to know our God, but we are the work of His hands. As we discover more and more of the wonders of who He is and surrender to His plan for our lives, His character begins to emerge within us.
And so today as you face a disappointment or challenge or experience deep joy, it’s important to ask some questions.
“What aspect of your character are you trying to birth in me, Lord?”
"What is it that I need to know and understand more deeply about your character, Jesus?”
Years ago I read a story about the master sculptor Michelangelo that helped me to better understand this process of our God, the Master Artist. Recently, my pastor mentioned the story and I knew it was time to revisit the truths found within it in my own life.
The Father led Michelangelo to make David out of an eighteen foot block of flawed marble that sat for forty years gathering dust. He saw something in the marble no one else saw at age twenty-six and sculpted for months until the form of David began to appear.
There is a story told of a little boy who watched him carefully work the stone. “Finally the little boy tugged on Michelangelo’s cloak and asked, “Sir, how did you know he was in there?”
Michelangelo replied, “I just took away everything that wasn’t David.”
That is often how the Lord works in our lives. He must hammer and chisel away everything that doesn't look like Him, like the masterpiece He has envisioned for our lives.
Michelangelo labored for almost two years on the marble for his incredible masterpiece, the Pieta. ”He believed his figures were trapped inside the marble, and if he listened to the stone, he could chip away everything that wasn’t part of the figure, and the figure would be liberated.”
I remember standing before these great works of art in my travels in Europe. To behold the life, exquisite detail, and beauty that the master sculptor could create from a huge block of stone is breathtaking. What one sees as you gaze at these masterpieces is the work of a man of faith whose passion for God has spoken through the work of his hands for centuries.
Notice Mary in the Pieta. There is great suffering in her face and yet a serenity as well. Her body is like an altar holding the crucified body of her Son, our Savior.
Observe the hands of Mary in the Pieta. One hand clings and holds her precious Son.
The other seems open in surrender.
Out of great suffering comes the beauty of our lives surrendered to Jesus.
How much more beautiful is the work of God’s hands on our lives, chipping away what doesn’t look like Him so that His character might be birthed in us!
Take a moment and consider your own life. You were conceived to be much greater than the work of the Pieta for you are God’s masterpiece. Deep within is the beauty of Christ and the Father sees it and is committed in love to transform you into His image. Sometimes it involves suffering or the painful removal of what doesn’t belong.
Sometimes it means waiting until the right time, for creating a masterpiece takes perseverance and skill.
Sometimes it involves letting go and creating space as we learn to dream His dreams for our lives.
Always, it involves surrender to the work of the Master Artist as He crafts our character.
As we seek to know Him more intimately we begin to understand that the Father sees what we cannot -
the beauty within the stone, the beauty of our calling and purpose.
And so, we cling to the Savior and surrender to the work of His hands.
We are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8c NIV
Surrendered to the work of His hands,
Resources: images Pinterest, teaching by Shelly Volkhardt, Living Water by Kathy Drake, Ken Gire writings on the Pieta
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