Hope for A Hardened Heart

Obviously it has been a few weeks since I last posted about the happenings of camp. Not because God hasn’t been working and teaching me just as much, but because I’m truly at a loss for words to describe the goodness and glory He has shown me in this time. My heart is overwhelmed by the grace it has received.

How marvelous is the grace that has saved and changed me, and how abundant is the life that is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! (Eph. 2, Jn. 10:10) The past 6 weeks have consisted of constant reminders of God’s everlasting, limitless grace. Truly there is no end to the love and goodness that He lavishes upon us (1 Jn. 3:1). I have been blessed to receive and give this love as never before. My cup runneth over! Joy fills my soul as I reflect upon so many sweet moments- moments that never would have existed were it not for the Lord’s faithfulness and mercy to sustain me through the times in the past when it felt as if darkness and pain would be all I knew. There have been many valleys and many days when I truly believed that I would not see His goodness again on earth. But praise be to our Heavenly Father who surprises us with His glory and relentlessly pursues us with His love (Hosea 11). Glory be to my God who continues to woo my rebellious and wicked heart and, slowly but surely, molds it to look more like the heart of Christ (1 Jn. 3:2-3). Not because of anything I’ve done or could do, but because He is faithful to complete the work He has started and to display His goodness in the midst of our brokenness (Phil. 1:6, Ps. 34:8). My heart forever rests in the promise and the hope I have in Jesus. This hope changes everything. This hope serves as the anchor for my soul (Heb. 6:19). And this hope will sustain me until I stand in the presence of my Maker (Ps. 17:15). This hope not only makes life bearable, but also makes it beautiful. Apart from this hope, I would be lost. This is a hope that saves, a hope that regenerates, a hope that heals.

If there’s one thing God showed me this summer (or reminded me of for the 48457th time), it’s that I have an incredibly selfish and hardened heart. But He has also been so gracious to soften it despite my many attempts to run from His love and goodness. When I make up my mind to hold onto something, I will do anything and everything in my power to fight anyone who tries to take it away. He is the only One who is patient and persistent enough to continue fighting for me and pursuing my good even when I am so determined to cling to what is killing me. He is the only One who can change my desires and counter the lies I revel in with His truth.
A few weeks ago, I was taking care of a camper who had been having diarrhea. I guess I could try to sugarcoat that or use some kind of euphemism to make it sound less gross, but there would be no reason to do that because it is gross so why try to skirt around that?
Anyway, the child has diarrhea. I spent a little while assessing the situation by asking when he started feeling poorly, what he had eaten, if he had recently been exposed to any kind of virus, etc. But it wasn’t long before his coach came to me and informed me that he had experienced another episode while he was laying in one of our beds in the back room… My first thought was something along the lines of “No big deal, I’ll just change the sheets and he’ll shower and everything will be fine.” Wrong.
There was a spot that was unpleasant to the eye on the bed, but the child told me that most of it was still in his pants. Before I could really make a game plan or decide what the next best thing to do would be, he stood up. And all of the waste fell to the floor. He apologized profusely again and again, all the way to the bathroom where he went to shower. While he was cleaning up, I was spraying disinfectant and all purpose cleaner all over the trail from his bed to the bathroom and trying as hard as possible not to breathe. I couldn’t be mad at him. He didn’t have control over the mess he made and he was obviously very sorry for the inconvenience it caused me. God gave me so much patience in that situation and love for that little boy because I wouldn’t have handled it the way I did without some form of divine intervention. And He also reminded me as I was on my hands and knees, literally picking up and scrubbing away this child’s waste, that He has done the same for me in a much deeper way. I cleaned up after this child because it was my job to do so. I like helping people, but willingly volunteering to wipe up someone’s excrement isn’t something I desire to do on the daily. However, Jesus willingly immersed Himself in my mess. He waded into the depths of my most repulsing thoughts and desires and cleansed the worst part of my being. He took my most shameful and awful sins upon Himself as He received the penalty that I deserved. And He did so with love in His heart for the very ones who put Him to death. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t add up.
But I’m so glad that He chose to love and save us even if we were determined to die in our putrid and pitiful existence. I am so thankful for the abounding life and grace that Jesus gives so freely. And I hope to share it with anyone and everyone who will receive it.
I’m a broken vessel, but He is a glorious God and there is no limit to what He can do or who He can use.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Refrain:
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.


And now complete in Him,
My robe, His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.


Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.


When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down,
All down at Jesus’ feet.

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.”
-Isaiah 1:18

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