Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dearest Sister: Consider His Heart

Dearest Sister,

This post is inspired by a journal entry I had written after Matt shared with me about his life before he became a believer.
We had been "getting to know each other" (the confusing and somewhat awkward time when we were in a relationship but not calling it dating yet) for four months. Up until this time, our conversations had been focused on our classes, our beliefs/theology, our personal Bible-reading, our families, and our growing up memories. And it was at this point in our relationship that Matt felt he needed to share with me about his life before he was saved, before our relationship continued any further.

I remember that night so well. We sat in his black Jeep, parked right outside the girls' dorm. He seemed so nervous, and serious- more serious than I had ever seen him before. He breathed heavily and then started, "I know that you know I talked to your dad and there are some things I wanted to talk to you about... I'll give you an overview, and if you have any questions, then just stop me and ask. I will tell you anything that you want to know." He then preceded to share with me about his life from high school through college. When he finished and asked me if I wanted to ask him anything, I didn't know what to say at first. But then I asked, "Why did you want to tell me all of this?" And he replied that it was because he wanted to be completely honest and transparent with me, not hiding anything. He also said he wanted to share all of these things with me at this point in our relationship so that, if I could not see myself pursuing a relationship with someone who had a background like his, we would be able to stop "getting to know each other" now and not begin dating and have to end things when it would be more difficult to do so. He said I could have as long as I needed to think and pray, and we said goodnight.

That night and the following morning, I spent time reading God's Word. The Psalms were a special comfort. As I read, I began to see recurring themes: We sin, but when we repent and turn to God, He forgives.

Psalm 25 was especially meaningful to me. The first verse that caught my eye was (v.7) "Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to Your love remember me, for You are good, O Lord!" The Psalmist was praying to the Lord not to remember the sins of his past.
What I really began to notice in this passage, though, was the Psalmist's heart. He was turning from his sins to God.
His humble, repentant heart was evidenced by:
- His trust in the Lord (v. 1-3) "In You, Lord, I put my trust.... I trust in You."
- His desire to learn God's ways and to follow after Him (v. 4-5) "Show me Your ways, Lord. Teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your Truth, and teach me."
- His humility and complete dependence upon the Lord (v. 11, 16) "for the sake of Your Name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great." "Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lowly and afflicted."
- His integrity (v. 21) "May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my trust, Lord, is in You."

Immediately, my mind began to think of Matt. I had seen each and every one of these descriptions in his life. And his sharing with me about his past was actually one of the sweetest evidences of these graces, for through it, I was able to see his humble heart, his repentance in turning from sin to Christ, and his intense desire to learn God's ways and follow after Him. Knowing about his past enabled me to see the transforming power of the Gospel in his life in a deeper way! God had completely and utterly changed him, taking his old sinful desires and giving him new, godly desires. He had awakened his soul to taste and see that the Lord is good.

I am so thankful that God saved my Matt. And never once have I ever wished something from his past would have been different. And I couldn't respect him more than I do now. His life is a beautiful and precious picture of how God takes a soul that is spiritually dead and makes it alive again. Matt was a sinner with heart seeking only after the world and satisfying his own desires, but God has given him a new heart that seeks after Him and His ways.
To the world, mine and Matt's lives might have looked completely different. But the reality is that my heart was just as sinful, just as spiritually dead. I was seeking after my own desires, seeking only to please myself, and I was in desperate need of a new heart, a heart that would seek after God. And just like God saved Matt, He saved me. We have both been "saved by grace, through faith," not of our own doing, but as a "gift of God, not of works," so that neither of us can boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

So, dear sister, you may have pictured yourself marrying a man with a similar background as yours- a man who grew up in a home where his parents believed the Gospel, who heard about Jesus from a young age, who trusted Him when he was young and reading His Word and going to church. His life would be a beautiful picture of Jesus' saving grace. And you may marry a man like that.
But, if a man pursues you, who has a past that is very different than yours- maybe he did grow up in a believing home but didn't trust Christ himself until he was older, or maybe he didn't even hear the Gospel at all until later in life- (and his sins would only have been a further acting out of what is really in all of our hearts before coming to Christ and being given new hearts from Him)- if this is the kind of past that that man has, consider his heart. Look for evidences of God's grace in his life. Do you see humility? turning from sin? a hunger for God's Word? a desire to follow after God?
If you see these things, these fruits of God's working in his life, then know that you can follow him, love him, and respect him with no regrets. Instead, you will get a front row seat to watch God's transformation in his life. For the One Who began this good work in his life promises to "carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6)

I'll love you for always,

Your oldest sis

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