This past year or so, God has been trying to get my attention. Big time. He completely interrupted my entire life in order to get my attention. To stop me dead in my tracks so I’d finally listen.
What has He been trying to tell me?
Well, He’s been trying to tell me that life is all about the heart. It’s not just partially about the heart, but 100% about the heart. And He cares about the heart. He cares about my heart. He cares for me.
In the Scriptures, it speaks of God’s priority of the heart:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height… the Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
God looks 100% at the heart. He doesn’t just look partially at the heart. The heart is the whole point. It’s us human beings that tend to mix up the percentages. In the back of our “mind”, we think that surely God must look “partly at the appearance and outward fruit” and then “partly at the heart and what’s going on internally” (because this tends to be how WE look at people, if I’m to be quite honest!) But God seems to be saying that that is a human thing to do, but the way He does it is to look only at the heart. And that’s a paradigm shift for us humans!
According to God, everywhere I have gone in this world, everything that I have ever done, and anyone I have ever come in connection with, has always been and only ever been about the heart. If our hearts are disconnected, stranded, orphaned, independent or starving for the oxygen of God (His love) then we have nothing to give, nothing to live on, and certainly no good fruit to bear.
It’s hard for us to accept that if something was not done from a “right heart”, that the entire fruit of the action is rotten. We try and salvage every last drop of our “human effort” and call it worthwhile, yet God will say that something is rotten if done with the “wrong heart”. I will state it again: this is a paradigm shift! It requires repentance which is simply a change of mind, a change of perspective!
If I could sum up what I have learned in the last year or so of changes and struggles of the heart, I would say with all seriousness:
“Take care of your heart!”
The foundation of this statement is that God Himself has a heart and therefore He cares for your heart! He made your heart, so He is the only one who knows how to make your heart truly flourish and thrive. So, let God take care of your heart! Let Him interrupt your life in any and every way possible, if it means He’ll finally be able to get a hold of your heart, breathe life back into it and do wonderful and glorious things with it.
It says in Proverbs 4:23,
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (NIV)
Another version sheds more light on it,
“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (KJV)
I know we’ve heard this verse used so often in the context of relationships… and people have used it more as a warning and a caution in not pursuing intimate relationships.
I’m coming to learn that it isn’t about putting a wall around your heart and refraining from intimate relationships. Nor is it saying, ‘Don’t you dare let any one (especially someone of the opposite sex) get access to your heart!’
No, it’s more about coming to understand that your entire life depends upon the health of your heart! The state of your heart matters! It really matters!
The health of your heart is a life and death thing!
God would send His only Son to earth to walk with mankind to show us just how important He values the heart, and how the heart is central to all matters of humanity.
The Law that God gave to Israel was never meant to be a pathway to life, but more of a way to expose the state of our hearts apart from Him and how much we are desperately in need of a Savior to transform our heart and bring it back to life! The Law exposed the heart. And everything Jesus did exposed the state of the human heart. This was His supreme intention!
God so values the state of the human heart! He cares for your heart!
So, when the Scriptures say to “guard your heart” or “keep your heart”, it’s said more as a charge to us to remember to let as much oxygen (God’s love) into your heart as you possibly can, because your heart will die (and your life–YOU—will die) without it, without Him.
So, Proverbs 4:23 is saying something more like,
“PRIORITIZE YOUR HEART OVER ALL THINGS IN THIS LIFE, because your whole life is an overflow of the health and wholeness of your heart!”
Or put another way,
“THE TOP PRIORITY OF YOUR LIFE IS TO OPEN YOUR HEART TO THE LOVE OF GOD and then, out of the overflow of His love in your heart, you must open your heart to others! Your life depends on it! You were meant to receive love and then give love out!”
It does your heart NO GOOD to shut it off, wall it up and guard itself from love. That’s insane! Your heart was made for love! It was made to be full of love. It was made to have an overflow of love to give to others!
Love is the currency of your heart and you are bankrupt without it.
To guard the heart is not to wall it up. Actually, it is the opposite. It is to let your heart be free to love and to tend to the fullness and flourishing of your heart.
So, go ahead and guard your heart: guard it from death! Guard it from losing the ability to feel, to love and to give! Guard your heart from heartless, numb living. Guard your heart from hard-heartedness, cynicism, jadedness, skepticism, bitterness, unforgiveness and apathy and all the life-killing poisons that threaten to block it up and shut your heart down.
I charge you to take care of your heart!
You were made to have a soft heart. A tender heart. A forgiving and gracious heart. A believing and hopeful heart. A heart full of life! Full of love!
God really cares for your heart. Boy, have I ever learned this. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way (or the real way, let’s say), but I’m so grateful and I wouldn’t take it back for the world. Yes, God would interrupt my entire life, to show me all the ways that I was ignoring the health of my heart. The life of my heart. The well-being of my heart. He would divert me onto a whole new path, in order to show me how much He cares for me, how much He cares for my very own heart.
God is not a God who kills the heart. He is a God of life! A God of the heart! He brings the heart to life! And I can see that what He is doing in my life right now is orchestrating all the circumstances and relationships in my life to bring my own heart back to life, and to bring it into the fullness of my heart’s destiny! A heart that looks and beats and loves just like His! A heart made in His image! And God has a heart that is fully alive!
This is good news. Such good news.
Even though it hurts, and even though pain is involved in the transformation (whoever said heart surgery was a pleasure?!) it is bringing about something good and beautiful.
Our Creator adores and cherishes and honours and tenderly cares for the human heart. He cares!
I pray for your heart right now. I pray that you would allow God to take you through the process of softening and tenderizing your heart. I pray that you would take your sticky hands off your own heart and let Him hold your heart. Let Him open up those areas that have become calloused and hardened and dead.
Trust Him with your heart. He’s the best one to tend to it!
The Holy Spirit Himself will be the walls of your heart. You don’t have to put walls up. You don’t have to be the guard over your own heart. He will spread His wings around your heart and He will guard you.
You are then free to simply love, which is what you were made for.
I pray blessings over you as you take steps forward into living 100% from the heart.
[Photo Credit: © CreationSwap/Marian Trinidad]