Saturday, December 19, 2009


Joel 2:13 "...rend your HEART, and not your garments. return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love...'
In the classic devotional 'Morning and Evening', Charles Spurgeon beautifully elaborates on this concept of 'rending your heart'.  The difference between rending your garments and rending your heart is the same difference between religion and relationship.  the man-made and the God-made.  The outward and the inward.  In the Bible, the religious men would rend their garments, or literally tear their clothes as a 'show' of their religious emotion.  But the sign was just that, an outward show or sign to man of how 'holy' they were. Spurgeon says "garment-rending and other outward signs of religious emotion are easily manifested and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel true repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common."
Heart-rending, on the other hand, is "divinely wrought and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer."  it's not something done as a show to garner attention from man, but a sweet sign to the Savior that we acknowledge our need for him.  It is 'powerfully humiliating' (i love that!) and "completely sin-purging.... but then it is sweetly preparative" for the work the Holy Spirit will then do in our heads and hearts.  The Psalmist says in Psalm 51:6 "surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach wisdom in the inmost place."  i believe that rending my heart means allowing my heart to be completely exposed to the eyes of the Lord.  It involves a willingness that allows full disclosure, nothing held back.   My sin acknowledged.  My wrongs confessed.  My inmost feelings laid bare.  it is then, and there in my inmost being, when i'm empty of myself, that God can come in and fill me with his spirit, refresh me with forgiveness, do yet another new thing.  Spurgeon closes by revealing the 'how'... "we must take our hearts to Calvary. a dying Savior's voice rent the rocks once...and it is as powerful now.  O blessed Spirit, let us hear the death-cries of Jesus, and our hearts shall be rent..."
I pray that we will not get caught up in the 'showy-ness' of this season but that we will allow God to get, and keep, our attention.  That we will allow him full access to our hearts.  That as our hearts break before him, we will enjoy the re-filling of his spirit in us.

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