Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. -Psalm 51:10
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. -Psalm 119:2 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.-Psalm 119:10
The 23-year-old Sunday School teacher reached for her Sunday school book with a sigh. Ever since she’d viewed the upcoming lessons, she had been reluctant to engage in the reading and study necessary for her to do a good job facilitating the lesson for her class of junior high school girls. Lately, conducting the required preparations had felt more like a chore than a joy. She already had a ton of homework to do for her master’s program and prepping for Sunday school felt like more. She was so tired of homework!
She knew she had fallen into a bit of a slump, and inwardly she wrestled between yielding to the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to resist, and taking the path of least resistance by giving in to her flesh. Finding something good to watch on television would be easy enough, and if by chance she couldn’t find something entertaining or interesting, Netflix® and Hulu®—not to mention Amazon Prime®—offered more than enough choices. The alternative? Spending time in prayer, reading the lesson scripture and corresponding commentary (being sure to make good notes), and then reviewing the questions.
If she were honest, she’d have to admit part of her reluctance stemmed from the fact the previous week’s lesson, coupled with the pastor’s sermon, had brought her under strong conviction to buckle down. She sighed again. For the most part, she rejoiced in her salvation. God had come into her life when she was a senior in high school. It was in just the nick of time, right before she was about to make some ungodly decisions, that in hindsight, would probably have altered the course of her entire life.
She smiled ruefully—and gratefully—at the memory. Prom was the following weekend, and she had decided she was going to throw caution to the winds. She would go to the after party, and this time, instead of refusing the offers of alcohol and drugs, she would indulge. She had also made up her mind to lose her virginity. She would be heading off to college in the fall, and she didn’t want to arrive there as green as grass. Labeled as “a church girl,” she knew her classmates considered her “behind” in those departments. Prom night would be just the time to catch up.
But the Lord had other plans. At Sunday morning service, less than a week before prom, she’d found herself overshadowed by the presence of God. Weeping at the altar, she had given her heart to the Lord and hadn’t looked back. And yet here she was, facing another time of decision. Yield to the flesh, or submit to the Spirit of God?
Suddenly, a revelation hit her mind like a ton of bricks. She knew it hadn’t come from her own thoughts, but straight from the Holy Spirit: Any preparations she made concerning the work of the Lord, be it reading scriptures, commentaries, Sunday school books, you name it, wasn’t home work—it was heart work.
Heart work that served to make her stronger in her spiritual walk. Heart work that deepened her prayer life and increased her faith. Heart work that expanded her joy in the Lord and her appreciation for salvation and new life in Christ. Heart work that helped her serve as a good role model to the young, impressionable minds entrusted to her care every Sunday. Heart work yielding divine treasure and spiritual fruit lasting throughout eternity. Renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit, she lifted her hands in repentance, and then in praise. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!
So, child of God, are you feeling discouraged today? Are you fretting about what you think you might be missing because you choose to live for God instead of living to please your flesh? Take heart, fellow believer! Know that your work and labor of love is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). Endure hardness like a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). Ask God to strengthen your weak hands and feeble knees (Hebrews 12:12) and infuse you with His love and joy. Living for God is not about homework, it’s about heart work! Be Blessed.