The rocky ravines and steep elevation of the Semmering Pass kept people skirting that portion of the Austrian Alps for centuries. But, in the 1800’s, before there was a train capable of crossing the treacherous terrain, a track was laid. Before there was technology capable of surveying and mapping the route, engineers designed the track. Before there was dynamite to blast, twenty-thousand workers hand-dug through nearly one mile of limestone and carved out a tunnel for the track. Before there was a train capable of making the journey, the track was laid. God’s work in my life resembles this railroad project.
It always seemed that other people and other things were the issue, the real mountains in my way. Unreconciled family stuff. Loneliness. Challenges with employment. Singleness. But, over the years, many of those mountains never moved. The circumstances and relationships never changed. Also, I experienced several “dark nights of the soul,” prolonged periods of disappointment and despair in which my perspective of life and God and self became skewed. I stopped seeing God and his Gospel accurately. I was blind to grace and mercy. Blind to God’s kindness, presence, gentleness being just as available as I walk out salvation as when I first received it. My feelings became the filter through which I processed and responded to every situation. My foul attitude reached atrocious altitudes. I couldn’t see the stony impediment was actually my heart; it was me.
I’ll admit, I was scared … scared to see the brokenness of my heart and scared to let Jesus enter it. But, as I do, oh how amazed I am with his gentleness and kindness and patience! Rather than blasting me with dynamite, he digs up the stony parts of my heart by hand. Rather than re-engineering the difficult circumstances and relationships, he leaves them in place, using them as opportunities to show grace to and through me. The Holy Spirit works inch-by-inch and year-after-year, progressively sanctifying me. His work is a feat of genius: the transformation of my heart. Just as Paul said,
“But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.” [2 Cor 3.18, TLB]
Dear one, before we are capable of loving God, others, or ourselves well, Jesus laid the track of love on our hearts. But, our hearts are the place of his ongoing handiwork. I know it’s scary to invite him in, to have him see your imperfections and touch your hurting places and remove your god-replacements. It’s scary, but necessary. So, let him come in his fullness and reveal what you have already received: “grace upon grace” [Jn 1.16].
I encourage you to start by asking and answering the following:
What situations of life have been/are particularly difficult? Have I been coping with those situations?
Where have I struggled with anger, bitterness, envy, regret, resentment?
Do I shift blame onto other people or circumstances rather than allowing Jesus to show me what’s going on in my own heart?