January 28, 2013
Open Her Heart ... and Mine
"One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart and she accepted what Paul was saying." Acts 16:14 (NLT)
She stood in front of me. "I wanted to go down," she said. "I just couldn't."
Her grandmother stood nearby, silent. Hope etched her features.
I took her hands. "It's scary sometimes to take an unfamiliar step," I said. "But we're here now. Can we pray together?"
This woman grew up in church, but she'd taken some wrong turns in life. After years of living apart from her family, she had arrived on her grandmother's doorstep out of desperation. She came to the women's conference because someone had given her grandmother free tickets.
Admittedly, she came for a free meal and to make her grandmother happy. She was fully prepared to leave with her stomach full and her heart empty.
Except God saw her walk through the door.
The words from Scripture reached past her tough exterior to land right in the tender spot of her desperate heart. While walking to an altar seemed impossible for this vulnerable woman, she hoped someone would pray with her before she left the church. Which is how she ended up in front of me.
In return for my prayers, I received a kiss on my cheek. Wrapping her arms tightly around me, she said "I love you," with joy on her face.
She didn't see the tears running down mine, as she turned away.
Just as that grandmother had stood with hope for her granddaughter, I've been praying for years for a loved one. There are days hope recedes, and I find myself on my knees again, asking for a refill.
In Acts 16, Paul met a woman named Lydia. In many ways she was different from the woman who stood in front of me that day in the church. Lydia was a seller of purple cloth, so she was financially well off. And she was a worshiper of God, likely a devout Jewish woman.
But she was also similar to the woman at the conference, in that she hadn't yet met Jesus Christ. Two thousand years ago the Lord opened Lydia's heart. She was so changed by her new relationship with Jesus that she became one of His most devoted followers.
God still opens hearts.
He opened Lydia's heart to receive the truth.
He opened my new friend's heart to receive relationship and restoration.
He opens my heart to hope.
Maybe, like me, you have been praying for a loved one for a long time. Perhaps there are days when it feels as if the prayers aren't working. But like carefully planted seeds, those prayers are received one by one by our Heavenly Father, until one day they poke through the ground of our loved one's heart to receive the Light.
I will continue to pray that God opens the heart of those I love. As I wait, I will also pray that God opens my heart to receive the hope He so generously offers.
Dear God, open my loved one's heart to receive and accept Your grace, mercy, and transforming love. But also open my heart. Today I stand on Your promises and delight in what only You can do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Do You Know Him?
Visit Suzie Eller's blog for three ways to fill up your hope reservoir when it runs low.
First Love, a DVD by Karen Ehman
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Reflect and Respond:
Hope: [noun] to cherish a desire with anticipation.
When we pray for a long time without seeing an answer, do we focus on the problem or person, rather than the promise? Let's begin to cherish our desire for our loved ones as we anticipate what God is doing, unseen. How He is planting those prayers like seeds in the heart of our loved ones. Let's cherish the day those seeds will poke through hardened ground to receive nourishment and Light.
Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (NIV)
Romans 8:24-25, "We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don't need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don't yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)" (NLT)
© 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Monday, 28 January 2013.