Getting to Know the Heart of Who We Are

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Jul 06, 2023
Getting to Know the Heart of Who We Are

Countless times in the Scriptures, the Pharisees did all the right things. They read their Bibles, prayed lengthy prayers, went to the synagogues, served others, and followed the Law. And yet, their hearts were further from Him than any other. And you know who was closest to the Lord? Those who acknowledged their sinfulness and wept before Him.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." - Colossians 4:2-6 New International Version 

Sitting with Who We Are

It was one of those weeks where I felt angry, irritable, and disheartened, no matter what I did or said. Nothing, in particular, had rocked my boat, per se, but it felt like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed for seven days in a row. After a week of sleepless nights, I was a grouch to be around. I didn't even want to be around myself. I finally started to understand the Saturdays my mom often had when I was a child. "Nothing's wrong, "she would say, "I just don't feel like myself and don't want to be around anyone." She wasn't being mean. In fact, it was quite the latter. She didn't want to be around people for fear that she might say something she'd regret. And neither did I. The lack of sleep had been caused by numerous nightmares and stress that never seemed to end. Amid wedding and honeymoon planning, moving, and adulting, I wasn't coping with the life changes well. And the more I tried to control or handle the situations, the less I actually possessed. I've always struggled to understand the things I can and can't control in my life. 

When my counselor encouraged me to sit in discomfort, I gave him the stink-eye. Exposure therapy was my least favorite form of therapy, but I knew he meant well. So as my phone blew up with texts, my email alerted me of twelve new messages, and my phone buzzed with three new voicemails, I was told to sit with it. Resist the urgency. Sit with urgency. And do absolutely nothing to respond. Now, I know what you might be thinking. "Wow, Amber. You must really have issues. That's so dramatic and petty." But for someone with generalized and high-functioning anxiety, that's the typical response. Everything is red. Everything is an emergency. Everything is on fire. Everything is important. And everything that needs to be done today really feels like it needed to be done last week. Mental Health has been my struggle for the last few years. It's home to me and a place I write from often because how else do you process something you live with daily? But despite my meanderings and wanderings with understanding its role in my life, I've become even more aware of just how depraved and fallen each of us really is. 

Realizing Who We're Meant to Be

In the passage from Colossians mentioned above, Paul wrote to the Christians at Colossae, Asia Minor. Let me be clear that as he wrote, he was in chains. I assume they were heavy, painful, uncomfortable, and far from pleasant. He probably wished they would be removed, for the raw skin oozing underneath with blisters wasn't the most comfortable. But amid these chains, he wrote to encourage them. If we're honest with ourselves and God, I'm sure Paul had a human tendency to feel irritable. He faced immense persecution and beatings for sharing the Gospel day after day- but was now writing to others who weren't wearing the chains that covered his body. And that's when it hit me. As Paul wrote, he asked the Colossians to pray that he'd have even more opportunities to share and spread the Gospel. While in chains, his prayer could've essentially boiled down to, "Despite the increased beatings and hardships I will receive, please pray that I can share the message of God more. My sufferings do not matter. The cross I bear for Christ does." I was taken aback. 

All my life, I've lived for Christ. But I've immensely taken for granted the fact that as I share the Gospel, I'm not currently in chains or facing persecution for doing so. Those of us in America are so privileged to have and be able to share this gift free of the suffering many others across the globe endure daily. 

The Heart We're Meant to Possess

Paul's message encourages us to pray for ourselves and those who are suffering. And if a man in chains can write and authentically mean that, why can't we? The fact Paul didn't even ask the churches to pray for his freedom, yet prayed for theirs and others to experience the freedom Christ gives, is unfathomable. Selfless. Truly worthy of the calling Christ had for his life and still has for each of us today. As I continue to grow into the Christian Christ has called me to become, I've become increasingly aware of my failures and shortcomings. And while it's important for me to remember that I'm saved, loved, chosen, and forgiven, it's equally important to remember who I am at my core without a Savior. Because without Christ, I am nothing. I am every sin I've ever committed. I'm every jealous thought that fights for my mind and every selfish desire that lives for herself instead of her Father in Heaven. The nails in His hands and scars on His body were because of me

Countless times in the Scriptures, the Pharisees did all the right things. They read their Bibles, prayed lengthy prayers, went to the synagogues, served others, and followed the Law. And yet, their hearts were further from Him than any other. And you know who was closest to the Lord? Those who acknowledged their sinfulness and wept before Him.

The woman at the well. 
The prostitute, who dried His feet with her hair. 
The blind man who is unable to see. 
The centurion, desperate for his daughter's healing. 

A Humble Servant's Prayer

Dear God,
Today, let us become living and growing vessels of you, the one true God. Like Paul, let us truly pick up our crosses to follow you, valuing others as greater than ourselves. Please grow and deepen our spiritual life in you, not so that we will be praised by those who see us, but so we will authentically seek you and the rich life you've blessed us with. Forgive us our sins, but let us never forget those that once held us estranged.

In all we do, let us look to you. Not as Pharisees boasting and bragging with haughty heads, but humble servants resting at your feet. 

The woman at the well, who is willing to serve. 
The prostitute who humbles herself to someone who will finally know her. 
The blind man, longing to see. 
The centurion, holding on to hope when all seems lost. 

Those are the people we really are and always should be. Because they know who you are amid who we are. And they and we know the power that can set them free. Amen.

Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Matthew Hamilton

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a teacher, author, blogger, and mental health activist who resides in the beautiful mountains and cornfields of Ohio. She loves Jesus, granola, singing, reading, dancing, running, her husband Ben, and participating in all things active. She’s currently enrolled in the Author Conservatory Program and plans to pitch her book: Mental Health and the Modern Day Church for Young Adults, soon. Visit her website at amberginter.com.

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