I wrote this in 2010, and just found it:
I just realized that 20 years ago this week I met Susie Rumsfeld in Vienna, and we worked on a team together in full-time ministry. One thing led to another, and what an adventure it has been! Here we are still working together 20 years later! Eugene Peterson wrote, “Jeremiah did not resolve to stick it out for twenty-three years, no matter what; he got up every morning with the sun. The day was God’s day, not the people’s. He didn’t get up to face rejection, he got up to meet with God. He didn’t rise to put up with another round of mockery, he rose to be with his Lord. That is the secret… not thinking with dread about the long road ahead but greeting the present moment, every present moment, with obedient delight, with expectant hope: “My heart is ready!”
Psalm 108: 1-2
“I’m ready, God, so ready,
ready from head to toe.
Ready to sing,
ready to raise a God-song,
‘Wake, soul! Wake lute!
Wake up you sleepyhead sun!”
How about You? Is your heart ready? Having a ready heart is a very different thing from what we may tend to think about being up to a task, being fully capable and self-sufficient. Having a ready heart means having a broken heart. Broken for the pain and suffering of others; broken by its own selfishness. Only God can mend a broken heart and make it ready for "obedient delight and expectant hope". Jesus' broken body on the cross is our only hope- the power in his weakness is the only way to obedience for weak creatures like us.
I am reading an amazing biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxes. He points out how Hitler capitalized on humans' natural tendency to rely on their own strength. Decrying the "meekness and flabbiness" of Christianity in private, Hitler publically tried to remake the humble, self-sacrificing Jesus into "our greatest Aryan hero", and then a few years later summarily replaced Jesus with...Himself! The Superman (Ubermensch) leader of a "race of rulers". "Lords of the earth" they called themselves, following Nietzsche. Yikes. Yet this reliance on strength and power was wildly popular. Why? The reasons are many, but one is our natural human inclination toward idolatry and pride. "You will not die," said the snake in the Garden, "You will be like God". We have been falling for that one from day 1, Hitler just did it big.
When is your heart ready? When you know who you are and whose you are, then your heart is ready. Two simple lines have always helped me remember. Imagine a graph- an x axis and a y axis. You and me and all people are on the horizontal x axis. God is at the top of the infinitely high y axis. (I realize there is no top to an infinite line, but He is God and that is the point.) The absolute only way to understand your relationship to God is to look up, infinitely up. God is "eternally other" (Karl Barth). We cannot look to the side to see God as our co-pilot, fitting into our lives or our plans, that would be ludicrous. Or patting God on the head and saying, "I'm going to throw you a bone and go to church, even give some money and help others". No! An infinitely high God can only be seen as the LORD of All, as the King who is owed all of our allegiance! The scandal of Christianity is that the King came down and meets us in humility on our level, at the cross! There is the real power, and never in our own self-reliance. When we forget the cross, we may think we can climb up to God, to do enough on our own to deserve God's blessing, to manipulate God into rewarding us for our long climb. Two ways to look at that, both with the same result: Each rung you climb on your own takes you further from the cross; or each rung you climb gets you closer to infinity (get it? mathematically, you are never closer to infinity).
And because of Jesus' sacrifice, we are freed from our pride and covetousness. On the x axis, we cannot look up or down at any other human being, but only straight across. Then our hearts are ready to be used by the King.
Often we don't feel "up to the task" of ministry here in our neighborhood, but our hearts are ready, only because of the cross and the power in it. For twenty years, God has demonstrated to us time and time again who we are and whose we are, and that makes all the difference.