The Renovation of My Heart :: The Gifts of Sanctification
Relationships, they have a way of bringing us to our knees and taking an honest look at the conditions of our heart. Recently, I’ve been brought to this inward assessment and candid examination. I’ve been thrown into honest inward review and surrendering to the agonizing sanctification (becoming like Jesus) Jesus has designed for me.
I’ve realized my heart is a home, full of dark and twisty hallways, boarded and locked doors lining these winding corridors. I’ve allowed Jesus to occupy part of the East side of this house. He’s come in renovating the East wing. It was slightly painful at first, giving up parts of my home I realized weren’t healthy. I’ve willingly let my Savior sweep in and begin making my heart his home, but I’ve permitted him to exercise his authority only in the rooms I allow.
I feel shame.
There are spooky corridors and rooms I avoid, the smell of death lingering from underneath their doors. I’m so terrified of what’s inside those rooms I add an extra lock and remind myself to ignore the odor.
I’m foolish thinking no one else will notice the wretched putridness, even though I’m trying everything not to dry heave at the smell (I could go on, but you get the point).
I’m even more stupid to think Jesus is satisfied with only part of my heart and won’t eventually make his way to the creepy corridors and sealed doors. He hasn’t designed me to live in bondage paralyzed by fear of what’s behind those doors or haunting my dark hallways.
He begins to beckon me into a creepy hallway and I’m standing ashamed in front of a door I’ve locked and sealed. He asks me to open it, but I resist, I cling tightly to the door handle, tears streaming down my face, “Please don’t make me do it…” And my plea really is, “Please don’t make me see the ugliness of my heart. Please don’t make me uncomfortable and deal with my wounds, my sin, my shame, my learned behaviors.”
But, his kindness beckons me and his reassurance convinces me. There will be pain, but the reward of an open heart to my savior is promised and there is life in that.
“But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” - Ephesians 5:13-14
The painful process of prying open a room I’ve kept shut to him begins and I’m exposed, there’s nowhere to hide. He sees the room and instead of condemning and shaming me begins restoring the brokenness with his righteousness. The fear dissipates and I begin experiencing freedom.
There’s freedom in knowing that he’s known all along what was beyond and never condemned. There’s freedom in finally seeing and knowing and surrendering. There’s freedom that I am covered by his righteousness. There’s freedom in working out my salvation in fear and trembling.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” - Philippians 2:12-13
But what I’ve come to find is more than just freedom, there’s a deeper intimacy with my Savior. There’s a deeper relationship I won’t experience if I keep the dark places of my heart off limits to him.
And that’s the gift I’ve come to experience in the painful process of sanctification. The gift that makes me long for Jesus to draw me into more dark hallways of my heart, shed light, break down walls, and open more of myself to him. I want to be courageous enough to lead him to the places in my heart where I have the most wounds, the most fear of being known.
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis compares our hearts to a living house,
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
I realize the renovation of my heart will never end. It will continue into eternity and never look like what I imagined.
A couple years ago a friend of mine was working on some upgrades of the home he’s lived in for more than seven years. As he started renovations he found a hidden compartment (this wasn’t the first he’d found). Inside was a large stash of cocaine that had been there for years, long before he moved in. There was turmoil of how to report the illicit drugs and what to do with it, and now it’s just become a funny story.
I realize my heart is like this. There will always be secret cocaine compartments hidden away in my heart, and I hope that Jesus will always discover them. I will always hope that he will tear them open and get rid of their contents, to design my heart to look more like him, to be closer to his.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Living in light of sanctification drives out death and brings life. Slowly, my heart starts to smell less like decaying corpses as I step into living fully in a place of surrender to my Father. I live in a place of vulnerability and humility to what Jesus will do, even in the pain of renovation.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!” -Psalm 139:23-24
So I’ve been asking myself this question, what are the secret hallways, locked doors, or cocaine compartments I am keeping hidden or trying to ignore? Search me, O God, and know my heart! And will I allow my good and gracious Savior to redeem and renovate those dark places?
Surrendering those dark places is only the beginning from there I get to walk in belief, life, and unimaginable intimacy with my Savior.
Question: Are you willing to let Jesus search your heart and know you? Are you willing for him to lead you down dark, twisty hallways and expose to you the grievous places of your heart?
Prayer: Search me and know me, O God! You alone are the one who can see, understand, and heal my heart. Reveal to me the places I've tried to manage and keep from you. Beckon me to a place of true vulnerability and relationship with you. I desire you to fill every square inch of my heart, no matter the cost!