Read Part 1 of What it Means to Take Heart, but only if you promise to come back. Here, I’ll sit and wait for you.
I’m on a bench at the park. The shadow around me is a tree, and I have a notebook. There’s a bush just here where bees kiss sweet white buds all over. It smells like sugar and autumn, sounds like buzz of bee, bird, and weed-eater. Women have actually gathered below me here to hula hoop together. I’m laughing. Some days afford us the sun, a breeze, just enough quiet then a phone call, invitations to enjoy and be enjoyed. Yet as I get older, I know more and more of the crumpled-heart, those who never get a fill, who labor with no fruit, the ones betrayed and bowled over.
I awoke a few weeks ago as from a dream, and almost with my eyes I could see how deep I had fallen into the hopelessness that comes with the trouble of this world. Before that day, I hadn’t been able to see around in the dark, all the teeth threatening. This was the pit, maybe, except it was in my kitchen and my minivan.
In John 16, right after the passage of the coming Holy Spirit and then how our sorrow will turn into JOY, Jesus says to his disciples in verse 33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
In part 1 of these thoughts, I asked what it means to “take heart,” because the truth is that I missed the mark this summer, and I never want to go through that kind of sorrow and confusion again. So if Jesus Christ Himself told us that in this world we would have trouble, then we better believe it’s coming, but He says to take heart because He has overcome the world. Take heart, as if there’s a choice here to suffer in a way that overcomes. Take heart, because if we don’t take it, we lose it. We are either overcomers with Christ, or we are overcome with despair.
Now this is exactly the point where I would like to bold bullet point some step-by step instructions, but I have none. There has only been one hard, beautiful truth that has wrapped around and roped me up from the dark, and when I type it, to the untrained ear, it will sound like the worst of news, but to me, it is salvation.
Christ lives in me. Try to wrap your brain around that one, huh? But friends, when I first believed, my life had been such a mess that it was easier then for me to see myself as dead, like my ghost had left me and Jesus had entered my skin to move me about. I knew I had been rewritten. So when He moved me into unknown territory, I was warrior courageous because I knew it was He who moved me and who overcame.
“Take heart” has also been translated as “be of good cheer,” which sounds to me like “just be happy,” so I had to get out my 50 pound concordance, and wouldn’t you know it that the word in Greek means something so much stronger than that? “Take heart” means to have courage. The root of the word means to exercise bold and confident courage! Of course the world around us is an unfair mess of circumstances. It’s the sick world. But inside me lives Jesus, and He is before all this, He is indeed after, and I am in Him, Ancient of Days.
Sometimes the question is simply about whether or not I believe that I am in Him and He in me. This summer I wasn’t sure of the answer to that question because I had denied the power of God living in me, shrinking under the fear of something terrifying that He’s asked me to do. I wish I had believed that He would do it all along. I wish I weren’t so weak, but in that very weakness, He reminded me of my death, that day I first believed, the first day of my life.
It’s a funny thing how suffering has led me so many times straight into His arms, into an honest way of peace. The pit of my bed was the weak place from which I could renounce the lies and shout that HE LIVES IN ME. Imagine my dry bones standing up.
So this is me coming to you as a minister of the gospel, confessing that I have struggled with doubt and disobedience and a terribly broken heart, and I am begging your ears.
Take heart, sisters. I believe it’s true that He lives in you. All these little deaths we die are straight avenues into His arms. Don’t miss it. Take heart. It’s a stone-real fact that the character of Jesus Christ indwells you. Every kind of courage and peace and triumph is in Him, and He has overcome the world.
Do you believe it?
How would you live differently if Jesus Christ really did indwell you?