HEARTLAND: Looking inward and upward
The heart is an absolutely amazing thing! No, I am not writing about the 11 ounce organ in your chest that beats over 100,000 times per day. I do want to draw your attention to that human essential which cannot be defined or contained by science, and which the Bible explains as such:
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. -Matthew 5:8
- Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and mind. -Psalm 26:2
- I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. -Psalm 9:1
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. -Psalm 51:1
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. -Proverbs 3:5
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Matthew 6:21
This does not sound like medical terminology, and I am fairly certain that it is not supposed to, because the Word of God is more concerned with our internal operating system than our physical being. That is not to say that He does not care about our bodies or health (He does!), but rather that what is critical is what is going on inside of us and what we are putting into the world (see Matthew 15:11).
The vastness of the hearts that God has created in us are like a landscape; limitless detail, beauty, brokenness, captivating, compelling and at times haunting. Take some time, close your eyes, and imagine the landscape of your heart. This can be a wonderful meditation of self-exploration, as well as an opportunity to invite Jesus to speak about what you are seeing and experiencing.
The very reasons we may choose to not engage this exploration is exactly what the enemy wants – a blind eye to areas that require understanding, healing and truth. When we stumble upon the places of our hearts that are broken, distorted and decayed, we hold the weapons we need to reconcile and restore what the enemy has claimed as his to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10). But God has a different plan. Consider the prophecy of Christ…
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. -Isaiah 61:1-3
So, what is in there? Beautiful memories, favorite vacations, compliments, loved ones, friends, delight? Abuse, pride, let downs, false religion, resentments?
To turn (repent) from our hurts and sins, we must first RE-turn. We all leave a trail of breadcrumbs from our past and when we go back to pick them up we can either go alone, with the devil or with Jesus. There is no hurry to reconcile it all immediately, but to ignore and avoid it may lead to your demise as the devil proceeds to dismantle all that is good that God has built into your heart.
But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right – everything. Those who wait around for Him are the lucky ones. -Isaiah 30:18
As we begin the process of looking inward, we can more confidently look upward. When we were children, with our childlike faith, we readily loved, were less guarded and more apt to trust. Therefore, when we begin to retrieve and rebuild our hearts, we will more clearly see the will of God and feel His presence, comfort and wisdom; perhaps even more than we can remember from our youth. When was the last time you explored the landscape of your heart? What is holding you back now? God has given you the authority to take back what is yours (Genesis 1:26-27).
DIGGING IN FURTHER: Recently, I’ve been reading the book, “The Sin of Certainty,” by Peter Enns, which contains some powerful thoughts and observations about faith and trust. Chapter 5 contains some particularly insightful ideas, which I found very relatable to the topic of the human heart.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. -Proverbs 3:5-6 In the Old Testament, "heart" isn't simply where the emotions reside. It's also the seat of one's thoughts, moral compass, and will. "With all your heart" means "all of you, every part of you - what you feel, think, do, and will." Trusting God with all our hearts is a complete surrender, a life decision to be all in all the time rather than relying on our own "insight," our ability to understand, fathom, to solve, to figure out. Trust remains when our reason betrays us, when we don't understand the mysteries of God and faith, when we don't see what God is up to - including when God for all intents and purposes is not faithful or trustworthy. Our level of insight does not determine our level of trust. In fact, seeking insight rather than trust can get in the way of our walk with God." (pgs. 103-204)