(I wrote this blog post for a women’s ministry site I used to write for a couple years ago and just felt the need to re-post it again here. Although it was written in 2013, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately and revisited some old journals, notes and blogs and found myself thanking God for His growth in my life. Thought you might enjoy it too.)
On a recent trip to Nepal, our team witnessed the baptism of 58 men and women – young and old. It took place in a river that had receded since the monsoon several months prior. Down river a man was washing his bull, while up the river two women chose that day to bathe. All the while these new believers stood patiently in line, waiting their turn to take a step of obedience for the Jesus they received and loved. They were ready to show on the OUTSIDE what the LORD had done on the INSIDE. The LORD had washed their hearts with the blood that Jesus poured out at the cross for their sin. Now as a response of their confession, they were ready to make their faith public.
Why is that so important you ask? Well, in the country we were in, Hinduism (idol worship) is the prominent religion. In fact, Nepal was the first and only Hindu Kingdom until the king was dethroned in 2005. When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ out of Hinduism, he / she might be shunned from their family, friends, workplace, or worse yet, be killed for such a decision. To make their faith public could be more costly than for those of us who live in the west.
This got me thinking about the price Jesus paid for me.
God did a lot of things INSIDE me on this trip. He shed His loving light on so many things INSIDE my heart. Good, bad and ugly. (I know I’m not alone with those things). But there are some people in my life that feel so alone with the things they carry on the INSIDE. They have great fear and trepidation if those things were revealed on the OUTSIDE. But the truth is, eventually what we carry on the INSIDE eventually starts to show up on the OUTSIDE – in our behavior, through our actions, through our words.
Years ago, I had anger management issues. I was truly living out the verse “out of the abundance of our hearts, the mouth speaks”. Not in a good way either. I was speaking a lot, but there was a very pungent layer of anger and growing bitterness that coated all of what I was saying….especially around my children. Not cool!! Anger was covering up hurt and pain that had taken roots from things people had said about me. Allegations and accusations that pierced my heart. I was now reliving those moments with my children and my husband.
As I poured out my heart to God for healing and comfort, He graciously revealed the large heap of unforgiveness that had formed in my heart. I first needed to confess my pain and sin of unforgiveness and then not only receive His forgiveness but then extend that same forgiveness to those who had caused me such pain (whether they were asking for it or not).
I like the way Don Henley (a former member of The Eagles) puts it in his song “The Heart of the Matter”.
“There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
they let you down, you know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you, baby; ’cause life goes on.
You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore”
Scripture teaches us to clothes ourselves with Christ – to grow in pure thoughts, a pure heart, pure actions. I don’t always get it right, but with God’s help, my OUTSIDES are doing a better job lining up with what I value INSIDE.
I want to live a life that shows on the OUTSIDE what I value on the INSIDE.
I believe the first step in building the bridge from the INSIDE to the OUTSIDE is Honesty. With ourselves first and then with others. If we value honesty, then we will not only be honest with others, but with ourselves first.
When we value honesty, then what we say and do on the OUTSIDE comes from a foundation of truth on the INSIDE. We don’t get hemmed in by what others want us to say, do or think. We are honest and we live by that conviction. If we aren’t living out the honesty we have in our hearts, then we aren’t being real. It might be time to check our internal bridge to see what work needs to be done yet.
In closing, I want to share another small story about one of the women that was baptized that day in Nepal. She was a ninety year old woman who had specifically requested that she get baptized that day. So the pastor’s wife from her church borrowed our jeep and driver and drove to the woman’s home to pick her up. We were all wondering about the back story. There is always a back story…an INSIDE story I should say. It was simple. Her request to be baptized that day was personal, yes. She simply valued her relationship with Jesus so much that she wanted to be baptized before she died. That’s it. At ninety. A very rare age to reach in the Nepali culture. What a sight to behold. Her frail body supported by the pastor’s wife as they, together, walked to the spot where the pastor stood ready to baptize this faithful believer in the “Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”.
She did it. God did it.
He did something else in me. The Holy Spirit challenged me to consistently think about the things I value on the INSIDE. How were they showing up on the OUTSIDE? Was I controlling them so they wouldn’t come to the OUTSIDE, or be visible the way I wanted them to?
That day I chose to celebrate once again the healing God did INSIDE me and continue to reflect that healing on the OUTSIDE.
What do you value on the INSIDE? How is it showing up on the OUTSIDE?
How has God been healing you?