The years sprawl out behind me, like an unfurled scroll of well-worn and tear-stained words – the times and seasons that were once my future – now my history.
What was once a trembling question mark of what a burning heart of early twenties would look like after more than a decade, after four children, after the twenties sunk beneath the horizon and the dawning of the thirties settled into midday.
Would love still be so poignant and resolve remain sharp?
Would passion for Him persist even after the unchallenged soul collided with the disappointments that are foreign to no one, the obstacles that temper even the wildest of hearts? Would my heart still burn within me?
And even more unsettling: would He answer me? Would my dream to know Him be worth the cost?
How I remember the gnawing inquiries.
I wrote my first book with heart on the line and so many questions still hanging in midair. I wrote of promises of Jesus answering the longing soul, certainty that He would come, almost as though holding my breath that such was true. I would have wrote the statements all with question marks except for faith and hope assisting.
I wrote of certainties while yet so uncertain, the ink of words on pages drying long before they dried in my heart.
It’s Not My Zeal but His
And my heart breathes a long sigh as I turn my head to see the scroll unfurled behind me. A chorus comes to mind:
It’s not my strength, it’s that Your love is strong. It’s not my zeal, it’s that Your faithful. I’m holding on to Your divine love. I’m holding on and I’m not letting go.**
Does the heart still burn? Unspeakably.
Does passion still persist? Deeply.
But the source of the flame? Not my zeal but the zeal of Love Himself. The strength of the ardor? The strong love of Jesus who takes the weakest of “yes’s”, the faintest burning embers, and blows upon them all the way until finally we’re face to face.
I marvel as I see how seriously He takes the vows of a young heart. Wherever there is sincere response to Him, age is of no matter.
Beyond All Dreams
And is He worth the dream? The focus? The cost? Again I marvel. As though my losses could ever be spoken in the same sentence with the gains of Him! The best dreamer with the highest vision could never outdo Him. And whenever a young heart risks setting their dreams on Him, He rushes in to exceed them in extravagance.
He can’t be out-given.
He can’t be out-dreamed.
And I turn to my four children, all beautifully wide-eyed and untainted. They’ve never tasted a drop of bitterness, never smelled a whiff of soured hopes or dashed dreams. They’ve no reason to hold anything back. Getting down at eye-level with them, I take in their eyes, all filled with light and dancing free.
Run with all your heart! I whisper with a tone that conveys my conviction. This time there’s no question-mark but exclamation.
Dream the highest dream about the highest King! For He is real and true and good! Fight the grandest fight with all your strength, for He will be the billowing banner over your certain victory.
Love wins! I say with all my heart.
Never doubt and never be pulled to the sidelines with the snare of cynicism or the pit of disillusionment. Know that He is safe to obey and to sink your future into. Keep steady your gaze and humble your stride, keep high your hopes and strong your vision to love Him with all your heart. Hold on to His faithful love and never let go!
Let’s Run with All Our Hearts
Rising once again I look ahead, not to the scroll outspread behind me but tightly rolled before me – the days yet ahead. My future, not a calendar but a Person. And joy swells. What a gift it is to run this race. What a joy it is to love Him without restraint.
May we run with endurance, upheld by His own strength. Humbled by our weakness and our lack but strengthened by His kindness and His faithfulness, may we turn to our children with hearts so confident and charge them,
Run with all your might! Spare nothing, even if it costs you your own lives. For He who gave His life for us is worthy and we will see Him soon! Pour out all your affections upon Him until that day, refusing division of heart! The King is good! He is real! He is true! And His lovingkindness is better than life!
**Eyes of Mercy by Jon Thurlow.