As a mom and as a child of God, I would so much rather deal with a behavior than a heart. I know that sounds horrible, but it's the truth. A behavior seems easier to see, to change, and to control.
However, dealing only with behavior is like putting a band-aid on your skin, when you have internal bleeding.
I love that last part that says fruit of his deed, not his deeds. Again, we can hide behind good works but the fruit of it, good or bad is a result of the heart behind it.
We have a friend (Jeff) that often says, "Relationship before task." I believe this is the heart of God. He is so much more interested in our hearts than our actions. He is a relational God and He wants our whole heart, and out of that whole heart will flow the actions that produce good fruit.
I have made an attempt this summer to see into the heart of things, and especially my kids, not just actions.
Oh Lord Oh Lord.
I can tell you, when you start looking and praying for heart issues not just behaviors, and go beyond asking God to keep them "healthy, safe, and strong," it can get very vulnerable and honest and messy in a hurry.
One thing I have found as God has opened my eyes to see deeper into their hearts, is it has revealed some issues that needed repentance in my own heart.
As I have prayed more intentionally for hearts rather than just the behaviors, it has cultivated space for some real work to be done. God is so faithful to hear our prayers and to transform and clean our hearts. It has not happened overnight and it is all far from perfect, but I feel a different heartbeat, a different rhythm in our family. It feels like we aren't as controlled by circumstances and moods, (which is a stinking miracle in itself, as we have so many teenage hormones living in this house). The family heart beat is stronger and more constant.
There is a fresh freedom and peace and joy that has taken root in their hearts and mine.
God gave me such a beautiful picture of this today when they drove off together for their first day of high school together. I got a bit choked up, as I was thinking of how good and kind and faithful our Father is. I love how creative He is in putting families together. He got really wild when He put this core bunch together. These 3 are the most different people in every way, and yet. God has brought them together and they make up this beautiful creative core group, and they share the same father on earth and the same Father in heaven.
Then there is this amazing 4th grader and my Kindergartner. These older kids might be the core of the family, but these younger ones are the passion.
They are fireballs in their hearts and in their actions.
God gives the most amazing gifts and He is so faithful.