The bible is filled with metaphors of spiritual growth. Pictures of how God forms Himself in people. One of the patterns which is revealed is seen in the book of Jeremiah, the prophet. What we see in the life and expressions of this prophet is that God’s Heart is always present at the edge of abandoned or wasteland spaces–whether they be in people or cities. He is there, and wanting communion in His Suffering and passionately complex longing to cultivate and make whole that area. The book of Jeremiah gives us a window or keyhole into The Heart of God at the gates of our wastelands. In this, there is a powerful motivation for the fuller formation of Christ within every area of our lives! One of the motivations for spiritual growth is a revelation of His Heart waiting at the gates of our wastelands!
Jeremiah, has lots to reveal about how God makes things–people, cities nations-whole. It illuminates the healing or sanctification process in people and lands. Why would God spend an entire book of the bible expressing His feelings about something? There is a key to healing here, on a personal and collective level. This key is about being willing to sit with Christ in His suffering for areas of self or others or cities and nations which are abandoned or wastelands.
For each of us, some areas of our lives are abandoned and other areas cultivated. We must go find Him at the gates of our abandoned rooms or spaces, so we can be with Him in His cultivation of that part of our lives.
A wasteland is a place where His Presence and Life are not allowed to be. There are many reasons God laments a wasteland. And there are many reasons we have wasteland areas within us! Sometimes it is just ignorance that there is land there at all. Other times, these abandoned areas are places we are willfully excluding Him from. Other times, we have simply been too afraid or lacked the trust that He is already waiting there. Whichever the case, the way Jesus meets us in these areas, is to express His Heart. He is already collecting a thousand laments and pleading poetry at the gates of our wastelands. He is already there. I think one of the keys to seeing these wastelands reoccupied and made fruitful, is to meet Jesus at the gate or door of these rooms in His Heart–to let ourselves feel His Heart for these internal wastelands, and confess then grieve with Him that He has not been allowed to bless that land. This is often the way into His healing of our inner and outer wastelands.
In prayer for cities, we move in authority when we are sitting in His Heart for a city. We have authority to the degree we are in fellowship with His Sufferings for that place. That is real prayer power for cities. We need His Heart to pray with authority!
My point in this little essay is that Jesus is already writing whole books oozing from His Heart about each area within ourselves we have not allowed Him into. Our job is to commune with Him in that place, And He desperately wants to enter them and make them beautiful again. This is also true with other people, and things around us–our cities and nations. Jesus is there expressing all His Feelings about those areas, and His longing to make them fruitful and beautiful and in order. He wants to enter, and the entire book of Jeremiah is about Him expressing His Heart to enter and make whole. His emotions are complex and intense towards every area of who we are individually and collectively.
Jeremiah channeled the emotions of God throughout his writings. And there is a reason, God wanted to express Himself in this way towards that particular moment in the journey if His People. He wanted us to know, not only has He not abandoned us, but He has intense passion to enter in and partner with us in making every area of lives sing in His Wholeness and Beauty. He knows the plans for us, and He already has His Heart engaged for us. Part of His Plan is that we commune with His Heart in our own healing journey, and then partner with Him in healing others. There is always personal transformation and helping others be formed more fully in Him. The two often work in tandem. To the degree Christ is formed in an area of my life, i can partner with Him in helping form that area in another!
This year, God is taking much “land” in people and the world; one of the keys to collaborating with God in this work is to know and sit with Him in His Heart for these areas. His Heart which has never left that space, was always there waiting to be known, and has stored up the poetry of His Own Inner Feelings towards it. Our heart melts in meeting Him in His! We are immediately alieved and motivated to allow His Formation in that area of our lives!
This is one of the strategies of spiritual growth. To be with Christ in His Heart towards the abandoned places within ourselves, and others, and the world. And to fellowship with Him in the complexity of His Sufferings and longings to cultivate those areas into their intended beauty and wholeness. The whole book of Jeremiah illustrates this process.
Many will not sit with Him in His Heart, so they cannot enter with Him into these rooms of being. But we must, in order to get to know God even through our own healing. God wants to reveal to us the nature of His Heart even through our own healing process. That is one of the reasons or even motivations for healing–to know, appreciate and therefore love God with all our hearts! We meet Him there, feel our guilt, confess, and start to feel His excitement over what this area could become in Him; then we go in and learn The Ways in which He cultivates! The healing process is a way to get to know Christ Himself. This is true both in our personal healing and in partnering with Him in the healing of other people or cities and nations.
We can already commune with His Heart in the abandoned spaces within us–our inner wastelands. Why? Because He is already there pouring out His Heart. That is one of the hopes offered by God’s offering the book of Jeremiah in the bible. God cares intensely about every part of who we are, and wants to enter in and cultivate and make bloom again. As we commune with His Heart in these areas, we start to see our inner rooms get decorated in His Glory and shine in their proper contours!
So it is not just about sitting and being depressed, or getting stuck there at the entrance of a wasteland. “I’m not worthy?” Of course your not, but He is there and has strong feelings about this–that is our motivation for spiritual growth, or fuller formation of Christ in us!! When we see Jesus at the gates of our wastelands, we are not depressed, but ecstatically hopeful for His Formation! Our exalting comes from the gladness that He is already there with such a radically effusive heart towards us and our growing into and with Him! That’s the spark and fire for personal transformation! Sometimes we are just beating ourselves up, when He is asking us to feel His Heart, and offering forgiveness and motion forward towards fruitfulness. When we commune with His Heart, we are alleved of our selfishness or ignorance, and can move on towards wholeness! We can move on with Him, confess our sins-for knowingly or unknowingly not allowing Him in; weep with Him for our wastelands, and then we can go in with Him and start painting our own house again, making it into His Home or dwelling! He is there at our blocked spaces, just as He is in the more mature parts of self. He is there with His Heart on His Sleeve waiting for us to catch His Tears!
There is something in Jeremiah’s life and writings that teach us both the intensity of God’s Heart for us, and the value. We value God’s Heart for we know that He is so passionate for our best and fullest expression. We know that He is radically in our corner. And even if angry or fierce, is for us, not against us. It is another area of how God reveals who He is. He is an intensely loving God, not just a kind benevolent overseer–but very fiercely emotionally involved in human affairs and transformation God! There is nothing passive about the God revealed in the book of Jeremiah! He’s a raw emotive poet, pouring out the full range of His Emotions for His People and their cities and land. This gives us hope again, that He is not done with us, and that He desires deeply to see us made whole in Him! But it also shows us that He is already there on the edges of our wastelands emoting His Heart! This is our motivation to press on in the spiritual journey.
We enter the gates of thanksgiving, because He is already there. And because of this metaphysical/spiritual fact, we are thankful.
If we see spiritual formation as a journey like the Jews-from slavery (Egypt), into knowledge of His Ways (Wilderness), towards occupying and cultivating with Him the lands within ourselves and in others (crossing over into our promised lands)-our cities and nations; we start to see that the way forward spiritually is through communing with His Heart over and over, in each area of our lives, towards the full blooming and expression of what we truly are in Him.