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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual journey’

We live in an era of 24/7 news/weather/sports/entertainment coverage, where the airwaves are saturated with voices that yearn to be heard on every subject under the sun.  And for those of us who decide to jump onto this “Information Super Highway”, it is easy to get caught up in what the Apostle Paul would likely refer to as “civilian affairs”.  If we aren’t careful, we can become like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane; too weary to simply watch and pray, yet having the energy to initiate a battle that we’re not called to or equipped for.  I believe that every once in a while we need to be reminded of what truly matters, and as such, I offer this writing from several years ago.  Though it is dated, I still believe it to be true.

 

The Heart of the Matter

 

When I first became serious in my pursuit of the Lord it was because I had begun to recognize the emptiness within the life I’d built without Him.  While that was a good revelation to have, it was also a rather selfish motivation to begin a relationship with.  I wanted my life to have purpose and meaning, which was really all about me.

 

Thankfully, God has been patient with me.  Eventually I figured out that it’s really all about Him, and that true fulfillment comes as a by-product of that understanding.  With each step in my spiritual passage, I’ve hoped to get closer to Him, and to become more like the person He created me to be.

 

Throughout the journey I’ve caught myself wanting to do something that will bless His heart, which has often caused me to ponder exactly what it is that God really wants from me.  While it is obvious that He values things like love and obedience, I’ve caught myself underlining certain scriptures that seem to express His desires even more specifically.  It reminds me of wanting to buy your spouse the perfect gift.  To do that, you need to carefully watch and listen to see what really touches their heart, and what really doesn’t.

 

Early on, I feared that He might be looking for perfection, but I soon learned that all have sinned, all have fallen short, none are worthy, and that our own righteousness never amounts to anything more than filthy rags.  While that may not sound like good news, it let me know that He wasn’t expecting that I’d be perfect.

 

I was especially pleased when He said to come like a little child, because I knew that meant He wasn’t after my strength, or wisdom, or experience either.  As much as these things helped me to understand what He didn’t want, it made me that much more curious about what He did want.  Like the story of the little drummer boy, I wondered what I had that would be a suitable gift for the King.

 

When I read that the Lord called David a man after His own heart, I figured that his life would reveal a lot about what God finds desirable in a man.  My first surprise was that despite Gods lofty description of David, he was far from perfect; which only reinforced my earlier conclusion about my own flaws.  Regardless of his shortcomings, David’s life was eye opening in terms of what God is looking for.

 

The first thing I noted was just how expressive David was with God.  He poured his heart out in the Psalms, including the good, the bad and the ugly; everything revealed before the Lord.  Even as I read of his failures, I could see that his heart was quick to confess and to repent (e.g. Bathsheba).  I could also see that he didn’t fear men and that he was willing to stand alone in the causes of God (e.g. Goliath); that he was a man who trusted the mercy of God above the judgment of man (e.g. his choice of punishment for counting the armies) and that he valued his position as a child of God more than his position as the King of Israel (e.g. dancing in the ephod before the people).  He was a man who pursued Gods blessing (e.g. bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem); who wasn’t willing to presume when it came to Gods will (e.g. his unwillingness to execute Saul despite the prophecy that he would become the king) and who seemed to have a deep understanding of Gods ways (e.g. ceasing his fasting & weeping moments after his son died).

 

Finally, I was struck by how He reacted when God said, “no” to his plan to build the temple.  Instead of being sad, or angry, or defiant, he did everything that he could to make the preparations for his son to accomplish the task.  This spoke volumes to me about what kind of heart David had.  While many of us might claim such allegiance to the Lord, I wonder if our lives would speak it so clearly.

 

As I pondered the things I learned from David’s life, it reiterated that it wasn’t his accomplishments that the Lord reveled in, but his heart.  The Bible says that “the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth, to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him”.  Despite David’s failures, his heart was genuinely committed.  I believe that this is what it means when the Bible speaks of a “pure” heart.  The book of Romans tells us that it is with our hearts that we believe and are justified.

 

While we are certainly servants of the Lord, I am convinced that it isn’t our service that He is after.  In fact, I think we often have an exaggerated sense of what we accomplish for the Lord.  Paul tells us that while we may plant and water seeds, only God can bring the increase.  Even in the parable of the Seed and the Sower, it is neither the excellence of the seed, nor the skill of the Sower that makes the difference.  Ultimately, it is the condition of the soil into which the seed falls.  If we get overly focused on results, we’re likely to either get discouraged or puffed up.  According to the scripture, God does not entrust us with producing results.  Only He can draw men unto Himself, and only He can change a heart (or mind).  If we really believe that, we ought to be more devoted to prayer than we are to debate/apologetics/social dialogue, and more devoted to fasting than we are to protesting/banning/boycotting.

 

The Lord says that He doesn’t regard our outward appearance, but that He looks at the heart.  His reward is for those who diligently seek Him, and He works all things to the good of those who love Him and who are called to His purpose.  These scriptures strongly affirm the message that He’s simply looking for hearts that are genuinely His.

 

While that may sound pretty simple, the Bible warns us that it is a fight.  It says that the heart is deceptive above all things and that our flesh wars against the spirit.  Proverbs cautions that “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”.

 

When it’s all boiled down, only three things will pass the standard of eternity, faith, hope and love.  Faith is an essential ingredient, without which we cannot please God.  Hope (which could be considered our faith applied to the future) is an element that needs to be visible to those around us, so that they themselves might seek the source of it.  And most importantly there is love, without which all our efforts are in vain (i.e. if I have not love, I gain nothing, I have nothing, I am nothing).

 

At this point in my spiritual journey I believe that what God really wants from us is a heart that is fully committed to Him; one that will diligently seek Him and His purposes for our lives.  I believe that as we seek, we will find, and that if we keep Him & His kingdom first, everything else will be added unto us.

 

I also believe that our greatest battle isn’t with the world system, or non-believers, or even the forces of darkness; but with our own flesh.  I trust that if we keep our hearts pointed toward Him, He will be faithful to complete the good work that He’s begun in each of us.  Though we live in a time when the dark is getting darker, the Lord stands ready to reveal His light in those who are truly His.  Indeed, I sense that all of creation is eagerly anticipating that moment.

 

“Arise, Shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you.  Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”  Amen.

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