Tuesday, April 21, 2015

That Time God Stretched My Heart

Oddly enough, I came up with a title for this post before I even had anything typed up. I was looking at these photos that I took this past weekend while roaming the streets of Philadelphia, when something occurred to me.

I am an introvert by nature. It is quite easy for me to get caught up in my own thoughts instead of letting the external senses take me to other places outside of myself. In some ways this is beneficial when I want to write out a thought that is hard to explain. But it leaves room for improvement in having empathy. I am an idealist and I find it complicated to really understand why others do things differently than me. It comes across as biased, judgmental, and ignorant. 

If I were to explain all the reasons why God moved Chris and I to this area, I think everyone would fall asleep from the eternal list. What has really gotten to my heart, though, is how much God has taken me from only having the courage to step into someone else's life through an autobiography from B&N, to real time. 

How has He done this? Let me explain. 

If I haven't said it already, living in the city has not been one of my goals in life. I grew up thinking that the ultimate destination was THE COUNTRY. Or the woods. Nature at its finest. Being closer to God through taking hikes, sitting on the mountain tops, and walking through the meadows was where my mind always traveled. I never thought that being closer to God would mean stepping outside of myself and into the chaos of the city.

As I look through these pictures, I sense a new feeling inside. I used to live an hour from the city and would take photos of Boston like a visitor. I did not connect with what I saw and mostly saw grime and depression. I did not understand why anyone would want to live in the city. It all seemed chaotic and lacking simplicity. I snubbed my nose at it without realizing. Now I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia where I am submerged in the culture of real city life. I work in the city where once I was afraid to walk alone and now take the mail to the dropbox. I walk center city, taking pictures, without feeling apprehension. As I look at each picture, it is not as a spectator but as a participant. It is not just a picture of a building with a tree, it is me looking up at the building with a budding tree. Does this make sense? I am a part of this city now.

Do not get me wrong, I still find it hard to live without nature at my finger tips. When I feel complete silence at 2 a.m. I soak it in like I am finally quenched. I am still a country girl at heart, but God plopped me down in the middle of the City of Brotherly Love to teach me something. He wanted me to understand that the hearts that live here are no different than mine. They too crave love, acceptance, friendship, and beauty. My home is not just in the country, it is this groaning Earth. Everyone on it is struggling, surviving, making it, fending for themselves, wishing and hoping, and ultimately craving the silence of a satisfied and complete heart. 

What I possess as a Christian is not just for country folk, it is for all humanity. The grace that I have been given is not just for me to understand. Living in the country does not make it any easier to understand God's power or compassion. It does not make it any easier to be closer to God. When we allow God to move us, change us, and ultimately strip us to the bare bone... He reveals the honesty that others have been wanting to see. It reveals the love we have been given and how it is accessible to the human race.

When we are completely vulnerable, in the arms of Christ, others see what we were made for. They see a spark of Heaven and wish for more. When they too find Christ, Heaven will reach within their hearts as well. Heaven will strip them to the bone and expose eternity. This is how God stretches the heart. This is how He stretched mine.

Remember: The Kingdom of God is at hand.

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