Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Called to Receive God's Heart.

Working on all of these Called posts has been such a blessing to my soul. I'm not one of those people who loves writing in and of itself; it's hard work for me! But the challenge of digging in and understanding something, anything about God is an undertaking that brings life to my bones and purpose to my life. Plus, I just love talking about it and sharing what I learn with anyone willing to listen :)

This month's Call is to Receive God's heart. And wow, the last couple of weeks have really revealed just how much I need this. It's always a bit disheartening to struggle so hard through the things I want to talk about and share, but it continually brings me back to the humble place of recognizing how much I really need God. So let's walk together through why this matters and why we need God's heart.

The bible is pretty clear about the state of our own hearts. Jeremiah 17 gives us a glimpse of God speaking to Jeremiah about the state of things among God's people and he says in verse 9 that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" From the beginning of time, we have account after account of people who follow their own desires and fall away from seeking after God. Everyone has this struggle (whether they acknowledge it or not). 

We want what we want, and we seek out what we think will make us happy, content, fulfilled... to no avail. And this is no secret to God. Jeremiah 17:10 continues on "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every many according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds." 

When David is in the process of being chosen to be king we see God speaking to Samuel about Jesse's other sons. 1 Samuel 16:7 says "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.'" Back a few chapters we witness Saul's fall out of God's pleasure and Samuel tells him what God desires: a man after His own heart.

God knows what is in our hearts. We cannot hide it or mask it or try to simply ignore it. Hearts pointed in the wrong direction wreak havoc in our own lives and the lives of others. It doesn't feel good to admit this, but acknowledging it, understanding that our sin-ridden hearts will lead us astray, is a first, very necessary step toward redemption. 

We cannot pretend that the state of our hearts without God can be mastered by our own determination  or self-discipline. We can do all kinds of "right" things from an external perspective and still have hearts that do not honor Him. And if we are unwilling to see this, eventually that rotting heart will pull us under. It will begin to spill out into our actions. 

Proverbs 4:23 says "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." 

And Jesus himself speaks several times in Matthew about how what is in our hearts will come out in our words and actions. We need new hearts in order to live rightly, in order to love well. But we cannot make our hearts new on our own, we need God to do it for us.

And praise be to God; He wants to change our hearts! He wants to take our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh, a heart that beats to the rhythm of His love, His priorities, and His goodness. We are commanded to love God with all our heart and He is the only one who can give us a heart full enough to do that. 

For some reason, I have always really resonated with the verses that talk about seeking God. And maybe you are like this too, always searching to hear from Him, to understand Him, and long to know Him as Moses did. So the following verses bring me great hope in my ability to receive from God what I need to love and follow Him...

"But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul."
Deuteronomy 4:29

"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." 
Jeremiah 29:13 

"And I tell you, ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?" 
Matthew 7:7-11

God wants to give us good things, starting with a new heart, but we need to ask for it!

While this idea may feel like a double standard, or an impossible challenge, it really is a blessing for us. Every time we feel ourselves pulling away from God, pursuing things that He does not desire for us, we will have to turn back to Him in order to get our hearts right. We'll need to ask Him to help us love Him the way He desires. It's that same desire we see in David that pleased God despite all the sins David piled up or dreadful situations he seemed to get himself into. David was a man after God's heart.

So where does that leave us? What can we do about it?

Always pray. Always stay in communion with God. And ask Him to weed out the things that are not from Him. We may also end up needing to weed out things in our life that entice our hearts (ahem, Instagram and Facebook anyone?) and take a step back from the endeavors that entangle our minds. I know I struggle with fear of what fun my life might be (or rather, not be) without some of the things I am drawn toward. But if they take my eyes off God and steer my heart somewhere other than where God wants to lead me, why would I want it? I need to trust deep in my heart that they are not worth clinging to. 

This month will entail a lot of asking questions of myself, often questions that I may not want to get honest about.

Do I still love following God when it's uncomfortable?When it requires me to not have things I enjoy indulging in? When I have less than others around me? 

What things am I unwilling to let go of and what pursuits keep me from giving my energy to God? 

What in my life keeps me from acting in a way that honors God or what is causing my mind to be distracted with the world instead of focused on who God is?

What do I want more than God?

I'll let you answer those questions in the privacy of your own mind, but I would encourage you to write it down. Write down the scary, the brutally honest, the petty or silly things that are holding you back from living fully under the influence of God's heart. And trust this: there is enough goodness, love, excitement, fulfillment, and pleasure in God's love that He can put in your heart to fill ANY dark hole. 

Saints throughout history have proved over and over again, having nothing in this world except God is more than enough. Can it be enough for me? For you? I know it can, and I want to pursue being so filled with God that I don't even miss what the world would offer. 

Here are a couple books I have enjoyed immensely and I hope they are a blessing to you too. 

Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller
You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith

Your willingness to allow God to change your heart directly affect how much your heart changes. Let Him do that work and be willing to give whatever it takes. It will be worth it! 

No comments:

Post a Comment