Do you long to rise up in the arms of faith and be drawn closer to God? In Hebrews 10:22, we are challenged to draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. Are we really drawing closer to the Lord with true hearts, or is our faith stale and witness weakened by hardened hearts? Having a big heart that beats in tune with our Lord and loved ones is a gift that keeps on giving joy and peace as long as our lives last on earth. Heaven has no room for hard-hearted, unforgiving, prideful people, but doors will open wide for the pure in heart who put God first and love out loud.
The long overdue task of cleaning out my choir folder brought meaning to this message. One hymn sheet of conviction and submission was about to go in the trash can, but the words struck a sweet chord in my heart. Instead of trashing it, I took the song sheet home and placed it in my devotional Bible. Searching for the right words to start my day came when I opened that Bible this morning to the page where the song stared. Words from the song sank deep inside; I was drawn closer to my Lord.
Singing the words softly lifted my spirit and opened the door for God to soothe my heart. “I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice, and it told Thy love to me, But I long to rise in the arms of faith, And be closer drawn to Thee. There are depths of love that I cannot know ‘till I cross the narrow sea. There are heights of joy that I may not reach ‘till I rest in peace with Thee. Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, To the cross where Thou hast died. Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord to Thy precious blessing side.” This song and the verse in Hebrews remind us to keep our true hearts filled with faith and we will be drawn closer to the Lord.
What have you done lately that has drawn you closer to Thee? I have been drawn closer to Christ through the vision, planning, and experience of the Rise Up, Recount Love Christian Conference. Words to the song share one who hears and feels the love of Christ with a longing to rise up in the arms of faith. Hearing His voice is often overlooked when we race through seasons overbooked and overburdened. We profess our hard work for the Lord, but are we drawn closer to Him as we go and do in His name. God honors what we do when it’s done for His glory and honor. Whatever we do should be done in the spirit of love. Being still and hearing His voice comes easily when we keep God first and stand firm in faith.
Last week, I rushed like a race horse completing preparations for the first all-day Christian Conference in Clinton: Rise Up, Recount Love. Tuesday afternoon, my son, Cameron, called to see if I would like to visit Mike and Rose Thurston. The clock struck six, my worn out body begged me to close my computer and go, but I opted to keep working. God stirred as I sat staring at work that could wait. I called Cameron to stop and pick up his Mom. Driving out to Keener provided a treasure: time to talk with my son without interruptions and thank him for his help in making the conference happen. We entered the home of Mike and Rose, a couple we are helping through Tim’s Gift. She is battling cancer; he is the caregiver who builds crosses in his workshop while she rests. The ramp Cameron and volunteers from Tim’s Gift built for them is proof that our county has lots of great people doing good things. Most of those same volunteers worked throughout the day at Saturday’s conference.
Rose greeted us with a weak smile and signs showing cancer stealing her energy but not her enthusiasm. We chatted and rose up to pray together when I sensed Rose needed rest. Visiting the sick is pleasing to the Father and knowing when to leave is a blessing to those we visit.
We stood praying over Rose with a sweet spirit saturating their home. After my ‘amen’, Cameron asked Mike if he could hold his Bible. Noticing the open Bible on the dining room table when we entered, I knew Mike would have his Bible in Cameron’s hands quickly. Where is your Bible located in your home? Is it a well read book or only opened in times of distress? The Word is without blemish. Bring out your Bible and bring Christ back into your home. Reading the Word together is powerful and promising in these distressing times. Surely, God is ready for His children to rise up, know the Word, love one another, and be a bold witness. Just remember, God sees our hearts and knows what we do and why we do it.
Cameron knelt beside Rose’s chair and told how the Holy Spirit spoke for him to read healing scriptures and pray over her. Cameron read, Rose and Mike wiped tears, and I bowed my head on bended knees to ask God for forgiveness and praise Him for a son who knew where to look in God’s Word and how to pray in the Spirit. Earlier that day, Cameron gave me a hug and said, “We’ve got lots to do today Mom.”
I hugged him but made one of those mama comments I should have held inside. “Son, your shirt is wrinkled and your coat has paint on the back. You aren’t dressed for the big day ahead of us.”
While on our knees, I saw a son who was willing to visit the sick after a long day at work, search the Bible for healing scriptures, and pray for people God put in our path to help. God stirred my heart with tears spewing forth. God reminded me that He sees the heart and how we are dressed inside is what matters to Him. I listened to Cameron’s prayer with a humble, thankful heart, for the way our heart goes is the way life goes. Our hearts were made for Jesus. Until He is the center of our lives, we can never be truly happy.
I was one happy mama when the four of us stood and shared praise to the Lord for the outpouring of His Spirit in the Thurston’s home. My heart beat with joy and gratitude for a son who shares the love of the Lord with a generous, gentle spirit, rising up in boldness, and giving help and hope to people in need. God could see this mother’s heart had been touched and taught that Christ sees and hears our hearts. Cameron and I drove back to Tim’s Gift with happy hearts, for we had been blessed by the presence of the Lord in our hearts and Rose and Mike’s home.
At the conference, Mike and Rose sat on the front row throughout the Women’s Renewal. Mike stood to share his testimony and the crosses he is making to sale and help with medical expenses. His real desire is for every yard in Sampson and surrounding counties to have a cross. He shared we are drawn closer to the Lord through the blood of the cross. Mike’s crosses were a huge hit at the vendor’s showcase. People left carrying two and three under their arms, after leaving generous donations in Mike’s money box. The cross Mike gave me stood tall at his booth. Jenny Gayle Coombs used her God given gift and donated her time to decorate the Tim’s Gift cross. Mike shared how God spoke to him while working on the crosses. The wooden crosses show cracks and holes, imperfections that can be covered up with paint and dressed up with decorations. Mike said, “God sees our flaws inside even though they are covered up when we dress up. We all have flaws but when we take them to the cross, we receive salvation and are made whole in Christ.”
With our first all day Christian conference behind us, we reflect with thankful hearts and thoughts of rising up again. The best thought of all is knowing that if my life on earth ends today and I stand before my Father, all will be well with my soul. I thank a special friend who helped me see how sin is sin and can slip into our lives with us justifying what we do…or don’t do. Thank You God for forgiving and forgetting. God sees my heart. He saw me run scared and deny what He put on my heart to do in my hometown two times. But praise God, the third time I stood firm and told the enemy to flee. Rise Up, Recount Love was a wonderful worship experience. God was glorified and people enjoyed a day of faith, fellowship, and good Christian fun. Our ‘save the date’ for next year’s conference is coming soon!
Mike’s crosses and my book, Rise Up, Recount Love, are on sale for a love donation at Tim’s Gift, 108 NE Blvd. 592-1126. Our prayer is that our step of faith to make crosses and write a book will be a means for you to be drawn closer to Christ and live your lives out loud in love.