When I think about my life and the redemptive power of the Holy Spirit, I just have to laugh. Recently I started a journey through the books of the law with the idea of looking at the law through the lens of Christ coming to fulfill the law. I thought I would breeze through Exodus on the way to more high brow (aka boring) passages of the law where I would make all sorts of intellectual parallels because I'm awesome like that. Please read the sarcasm in that sentence because I really was feeling pretty impressed with myself. But as I got into Exodus where God was talking about the promised land, he pressed on my heart that if we are a new creation in Christ, then we are called out of the wilderness of sin and death and into the promised land of that new creation. That "new heart" he talks about in Ezekiel so much (see chapters 11 & 36) is just like the promised land where God was leading Israel. God promises to drive out the nations from the promised land by sending his angel before the people of Israel. The way God talks it sounds like the Israelites just have to saunter in with a toy sword, kind of like Quinn does every morning in his underwear, and the nations will fall over dead. But here's what struck me in Exodus 23:
This verse is repeated almost verbatim in Deuteronomy 7, and when I read it, I thought, "Of course! This is my life!" When I became a Christian I spent so many years being mad at God because he didn't make it easy to be holy. For a long time, I've clung to the verse in Hebrews 10:I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. (Exodus 23:29-30 ESV)
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14 ESV)This intricately, patient, focused, almost surgical attack on my sinful nature has been going on so long that sometimes I have trouble noticing it. Honestly, though, if God had changed my heart all at once, I'd have fallen over dead or still be drooling in a looney bin right now. Because I did not grow up with Jesus, even my issues have issues, and giving me a new heart is more like a lifelong heart surgery that a cheap magic trick that is no more than a slight of hand. More than just giving me a new heart I need to learn holiness so that I can increase and possess this new creation that God calls me to be.
Lately I have felt the weight of emptiness on my heart. I found myself grieving all sorts of random things, some valid like the loss of the family Emmett and I wanted to have, and some ridiculous like the size and shape of my head. In creeps the worm of Satan, whispering to me, "God doesn't really love you. He doesn't really want you to be happy or he'd have given you a prettier head." Just like the Israelites are about to mess things up when Moses goes up to the mountain, I feel the temptation to doubt God's goodness and love pressing down on me, tempting me to turn away. But that phrase - little by little - keeps haunting me, foreshadowing the new creation God is working in me. And if He can do this much work in me since I became a believer over 15 years ago, then I'm going to be freaking awesome when Jesus returns. Just sayin.