Have you ever seen a butcher tenderize meat?
Does it ever feel like this is what God is doing to your heart? In a much gentler way of course, and without the metal spikes piecing your heart or the bloodied apron!
OK, not the most loving picture I know, but I can’t seem to get this imagery out of my head as I have been thinking about Christmas and God’s divine hand as He has tenderized and readied for my heart for Jesus.
The first time I truly met and understood Jesus went something like this…
I was a sophomore at Iowa State University (Go State!), a marketing major, and member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and living the college dream. I had just finished up my freshmen year, in epic proportion, drinking my way through the year one (sorry Mom, this is painfully true) and really didn’t have a care in the world. Life was good in my mind.
Yet as I came into my second year, I know subconsciously I was searching for more, and found myself joining the Bible study in sorority. It was here that I met Carolyn, our Bible study leader. She was a sweet lady in her 50’s, always with a smile on her face and the kind of lady you want to give a hug to every time you see her.
For the rest of the year I attended this Bible study, even meeting occasionally with Carolyn, probing her with the questions I had. She was always so gracious and patient with me, and at the end of the year encouraged me to attend a Greek Christian conference in Indianapolis.
I went with no expectations but left forever changed. Within minutes of the first worship set, as I was singing the song, Here I am to Worship, the tears began to flow and didn’t seem to stop. Eventually the worship songs ended and we were directed to our small group, which included 5 other of my sorority sisters. At this point the tears were still flowing and I didn’t even care how ridiculous I looked because I knew what God was doing in me was deeper and more real than anything I have ever experienced.
I knew after that moment I would never be the same and nothing would ever look the same.
God was showing ME who Jesus was to ME. I had heard it a hundred times before, Jesus came and died for you, a brutal death on a cross so that I might have life, eternal life and live this life abundantly.
Yet, this time it was different. I felt conviction of my sin, the drinking, the stuff with boys, the lies, the way I judged people, and putting everything above Him, all of it big and small.
He brought me to my knees, in a puddle of tears, and for the first time it became personal.
He became personal.
His death was for me. He would have died just for me.
Knowing what He had done for me in love meant everything was about to change.
Love changes everything and when I embraced His love, everything did change.
This is a moment I will never forget and one I am eternally grateful for.
Although as I sat reflecting on this moment, the picture of the butcher and meat tenderizer came quickly to mind.
Almost, as if God was saying I prepared your heart for that day.
I prepared you for that day and everyday before and after that day, to be soft to my Son.
To be tenderized for Jesus.
I remembered those years growing up of going to Church and hearing truth, times with Mom jamming out to Amy Grant while baking, years of going to Church camp, praying before meals and bedtime, the letter my brother wrote to me during my High School graduation telling me to pursue God, and on and on and on.
He’s been tenderizing my heart from day one when He made me in love.
The closer I look, the closer I see Him all over my life.
This Christmas I am so thankful for that significant moment in college when I met Jesus, but even more grateful for my Father in Heaven who is the Great Butcher of My Heart.
Always preparing my heart for more of Him, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.
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