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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

Shaping Your Heart

Before spiritual formation was a buzz word among Christians, I think it was what I hungered for early in my commitment to follow Jesus. Somehow, I knew my heart was a canvass for God to work His art upon and wanted his brush strokes to define everything about me. However, I was waywardly inept in making it a priority. If something offended me, I responded. While I wanted to blame it on genes I didn’t ask for or the bite of the fruit Eve took; I knew it was a limp excuse.

The first step that I learned on my own was to take an offense and my reaction to it, to God. Sometimes it was for confession and repentance. Sometimes it was out of confusion. Sometimes it was my need for comfort.

I learned early, by the grace of God, that my heart was a dark and crowded place, overstuffed with fears and insecurities that pushed God’s power away. I wish it was as easy as cleaning out a closet and hauling unwanted things to Good Will. But it’s


formation is not my work;

it's God's!

Spiritual formation is not my work; it's God’s. It is what He does when I give Him complete freedom to call me out on any attitude, activity, motive, or priority. He re-forms some understanding about my rights, my identity, my purpose. He gives me a new center from which to live and move and find my being. (Acts 17:28) I either respond with complete surrender to this re-forming or I struggle against it pushing for my own way, my own understanding, my own will.

At the center of the shaping God does in my heart is scripture. If I use anything else as the beginning of this heart work, I can easily revise God’s intent to fit my desires. That is the antithesis of spiritual formation.

Action nudged and edited by the Holy Spirit shapes the heart.

The beauty of spiritual formation is that once you have recognized the waywardness of your heart and been exposed to the freedom of addressing it in some way; you can never go back to the place of your ignorance. Discovery leads to action. Action nudged and edited by the Holy Spirit shapes the heart and prompts the daily inward renewing that is necessary. (2 Cor 4:16)

For the next weeks, I want to share some scriptures that God used to dig deep into the crevices of my heart and show me “a more excellent way.” (1 Cor. 12:31, NASB) I’ve selected ten that anchored my life in Christ. They probably aren’t new to you. They simply became “a light for my path,” (Psalm 119:105) a magnifying glass to enlarge God’s way for me. In times when my heart was open or desperate, they were my compass and set a new direction.

While you can borrow my discoveries, true spiritual formation happens when you find them on your own. When God’s Spirit points something out to you, you know it has your name on it. It becomes God’s loving message, His parental instruction, His investment in your maturity. There is no substitute for it.

During these weeks, I will be praying that you grow a hunger for the spiritual formation God wants to bring to you. And when He does, consider sharing your experience. Shared discoveries give us all something to celebrate and more reasons to continue the search!

Sharing the journey!


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