Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

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Undivided Heart

Undivided Heart by Lucy Mills is a thoughtful book based on a verse from Psalm 86 in which the psalmist prays: ‘… give me an undivided heart…’

In the first half of her book, Lucy explores what makes us who we are and what motivates our actions. She looks at the many different things that give us a divided heart: our drives and desires, issues, circumstances, boxes we squeeze ourselves into, social media, and labels we put on ourselves or allow others to give us. All of these things can limit us, create unnecessary burdens, and keep us from enjoying the abundant life God has planned for each one of us.

The second half of the book, Lucy considers what has motivated God’s people in the past (from the Bible) and looks ahead to our glorious future with God, and how abundant life is offered right now. Our incentive is to enjoy some of the benefits of knowing God now, not in a ‘health, wealth, prosperity’ way, but in going deeper in our relationship with God and seeing His kingdom come.

If kingdom is about the royal reign of God… then the ‘requirements’ of living under this reign emphasise how we live together under the kingship of God. … being generous… acting with fairness and justice, forgiveness and mercy.

In the kingdom, treasures are found in unexpected places, the poor are considered rich and the weak are made strong.

Somewhere, right now, two people with two different viewpoints are praying together in the name of Jesus, under the banner of love. Such is the kingdom.

Having an undivided heart results in God being so crucial to us that we are able to face suffering that has no answers here. Lucy looks at Job, and how God did not answer his ‘why?’ but gave him a vital encounter with Himself. God didn’t give Job answers, He gave Job Himself. Lucy also considers how Jesus – the Son of God – came to fully identify with us in our suffering. He became our sin so that we could have God’s righteousness. In our sufferings, God gives Himself.

In her final chapter, Lucy sums up what it means to ask God for a united or undivided heart.

An undivided heart is not soft, pink romantic snuggliness. It’s a fierce, focused, even suffering heart, which looks towards its one redeemer. A heart which longs and thirsts and waits.

Each of the twenty chapters is short. Included within most if not all of the chapters is a Bible verse or passage and a poem. Each chapter concludes with a few helpful questions to aid the reader in gaging where their own heart may be divided and how this can be changed.

I thought Lucy incredibly insightful in this book, which is uncomfortable at times and helpfully illuminating at others. I certainly had one or two light bulb moments in reading it.

I have given it 4* on Amazon. I was provided with a free copy for the purpose of writing an unbiased review for the book’s launch this week.

Gather

Rethinkchurch has suggested a photo challenge for each day of Lent, using set words as prompts. Some of my Facebook friends and I thought it would be fun to adapt this and use the word prompts to write reflective posts. The first word prompt is GATHER.

Last summer, my friend Elizabeth and I planned a holiday together. We were excited at the prospect of having a few days without home and work commitments to talk non-stop, chill out and pray. The times we share with God are vibrant and thrilling, and we were giddy at the prospect of unhurried time with Him.

We thought we had planned that holiday and we were the ones inviting Jesus to join us.

Right.

Think again.

Sea ThistlesAlmost before we’d finished breakfast on the first morning, the presence of God fell in the room and we had to race to the loo so as to be ready for whatever He wanted to do. We realised that Jesus was the one who’d planned that holiday and He was the One inviting us to join Him.

When Jesus died, He did so willingly because of the joyful outcome He was anticipating. He is a God who gathers people to Himself and makes us His friends. A tiny part of that joy He was looking forward to was being able to invite Elizabeth and me to gather to Him for a few days in a chalet on the Norfolk coast.

 

The Lord builds up and raises us high above our status;
He gathers the outcasts –
the ones picked last for netball and hockey,
the lonely and invisible,
those addicted to social media or alcohol or drugs,
the prostitutes and trafficked,
the pimps, brothel-owners and traffickers –
Daddy God heals the broken-hearted
and bandages their wounds.
He calls us by name and brings the outcasts into His family.

My adaptation based on Psalm 147:2-6

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