A Blog by Jennifer Aulthouse


A heart for those who want more of God. A desperate plea for those who don't.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Cornerstone Overcame my Heart of Stone

This written piece is part of a larger exhibit presented by Living Word Community Church, entitled "The Names of God". The exhibit consists of both written and visual artistic pieces and is currently on display. My piece provides a glimpse into the progression and nature of my spiritual journey.


My Heart of Stone
It is quite possible to sit in a church every Sunday for many years and completely miss Jesus; though there may be many visual likenesses of Him, if you do not have eyes to see, you will simply see with unchanged eyes, and He remains as a comforting thought, an abstract doctrine to nod to, little more than an historic relic to remind us to “be good” and dismissed again from thought until the following Sunday. He never leaves the canvas or the sculpture or even the worship song or hymn, whatever media He may be beholden to. He certainly doesn’t accompany one home.

Such it was for me. It isn’t that I was particularly cold or uncaring or, frankly, rebellious. I just didn’t see my great need for Him, even though I heard stories and sermons every week telling me otherwise. I prayed often, but the prayers of one who needed someone to talk to at night, as I prayed that my home would be spared from fires, and sometimes I would ask for help in dealing with a nuisance in my life, or desiring that my favorite team would win its next game. I look back now and don’t remember if I actually thought there was anyone really listening. I suppose I did. I liked God, and I liked that He loved me, but it never occurred to me that He was more, that I was more, and that there was more to discover about both of us. I don’t think it ever dawned on me that He might want a “relationship” with me, or would ever demand something of me that I didn’t want to give up. I came first, always. Why wouldn’t I?


Jesus, my Stumbling Block
Though I had certainly claimed Jesus as my savior and had at least a superficial awareness of my need for one, He was off in the margins somewhere. I would move Him closer at times, but largely Jesus and His ways were things in My way. I desired comfort, fun, and affirmation – but not out of any conscious desire for spiritual health - and I tried to use Him to give me these things. And He would continually show up, blocking my path. He would not yield to my will. I would beg Him to get in line with my dreams of being important to and appreciated by others. He had a different way of giving me such things, one that took much time and much pain, and would not tolerate my seeking such things in anyone or anything besides Him. If I was going to disobey, He insisted I know He was not going to change. He would not conform to me. But He dealt with me gently. There was not a sudden swipe of my idols, as a thief swipes a purse and leaves a woman breathless and disoriented. He pried them out of my hands, removing one finger at a time, until they simply slid out from under me.

I saw this as I tried desperately to maneuver life so that I could claim Him and still live as I pleased, pursue what I believed wholeheartedly would give me the good things I longed for. Just as others did not cave in to my emotional demands, He did not cave in either.

I stumbled over Him often. I cried and argued and begged. But He did not let me fall. I would have jumped right off a cliff to follow my idolatrous dreams, and He provided barriers for me I never even realized were there until later on.



Jesus, my Rock
Something dawned on me; a realization that things weren’t working. There wasn’t any momentous external event that happened. Simply an awakening that if I was professing to be a Christian, my life should surely look differently than it did. And I became aware that a long, slow transformation was happening in which I desired that Jesus not only be my Savior, but my Lord. So I sought to align my will with His. I recognized that the things I had been falsely pursuing were not in His will for me, no matter how much good there may have been within them in their purest forms. I was a new creation, and thus a new approach to all things in my life was needed. I struggled with this tremendously, but ultimately submitted to the relentless process of reordering and reshaping, dismantling and retooling, demolition and rebuilding that the Lord, steady and sure, was already undertaking in me. My heart became a construction zone. This work is lifelong and as any construction zone resembles, it is unfinished, with caution tape covering some areas where healing is still in process, piles of rubble from old things that have not yet been fully removed, and the dust of confusion clouding the air at times. But there is continual progress; signs of newness and a vision of what’s coming as I notice my desires and perspectives changing. And hope.

 
Jesus, my Cornerstone

The Cornerstone is what all else is built upon. It is the foundation that holds everything, and without it, all would crash into nothingness. It is here where I see anew, what it means to live completely submitted to Jesus. All things are dependent on Him, surrendered to Him. I fight this still. The heart-of-stone nature still haunts, still taunts. It threatens to harden every time rightful anger morphs into bitter judgment, joyful celebration morphs into gluttonous excess, beautiful fellowship tempts with disordered heart longings. But it cannot defeat me. In grace, I cling to my Cornerstone, though the clinging resembles a life filled with learning how to live in tension. He shall not be moved, and I shall not be shaken.

As my heart grows larger towards the Lord and His purposes, my love for the church and the realization that this Cornerstone is so much more vast and weighty expands. I seek to build and weave into the life of the Body, both local and global, both tangible and invisible, both practical and extravagantly overflowing. I discover contentment in being small, delight in knowing He will bring me to completion; a fresh longing for His joy as His children draw close.
He shall not be moved, and the church shall not be shaken.