S.E.S. welcomes guest writer Renee.
Tracking our heart is a lot like following an inner GPS. It makes me think of the opening line of a well known song by Johnny Cash, “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.” Often my heart (like another song) is prone to wander, and I can feel it. At other times, my heart has wandered so far off course it becomes hard to reign in, and doing so comes at great emotional cost and lost time. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” That can be a tough verse to swallow; my pride sometimes doesn’t want to admit it. But my heart’s track record tells me it is true. So here are four lessons I’ve learned while road tripping with my heart.
1. Ask yourself: How trusting is my heart? Does your heart believe that God’s plan involves your best? This is a tough but important question to ask if I want to keep track of where my heart may be wandering. Perhaps you are in a season of being uprooted, maybe a dream is deferred, or a relationship has changed or ended, you’ve had to rearrange your plans, circumstances are not what you expected, or perhaps you have a nagging anxiety or fear…any of these can lead to doubt or a new term I learned recently: unexpected apathy. Doubt can mask itself so well in our thought patterns that we can become insecure or hard of heart, and we start walking away from God before we even know we’ve turned around. Unexpected apathy is when we go through the motions, but deep down we’re not convinced. Author Jerry Bridges says, “God views our distrust of Him as seriously as He views our disobedience.”
The world’s patterns of thought tell us we are measured by weight, bank accounts, jobs, relationships. Pay attention to your patterns of thought…what are they telling you about yourself, what is in your heart, and about your trust in God? The answer for doubt and apathy is the same: surrender. Laying down doubt requires you to track it, own it and surrender it back to God. One way this happens is honesty in prayer. Never have I learned so much than when I learned to be honest before God and stop pretending I had it all together.
2. Ask yourself: How hopeful is my heart? This means evaluating what your heart is waiting for, and asking what does waiting the right way look like? What it doesn’t look like is self pity. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie, The Princess Bride. There’s a scene where the main character gets taken to a place called the ‘pit of despair’. Sometimes our inner heart is hanging out in a similar place. Psalm 27:14 describes what waiting with dignity is like: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage.”
The best way to leave a party for one is to serve—serving is attractive—the world won’t tell you so, but trust me—I’ve never felt more attractive in the Lord’s eyes than when I’m serving Him with a happy heart. Start banking for the thing you want now. How do you bank? Keep track of what you’re meditating on—is it the ways I’ve been wronged, cheated, or overlooked—or on the LONG list of the Lord’s gifts to me? I literally list them out, as prayer lists, when I need to turn the tide in my heart. This is called bossing your heart around, and in this case it’s good to get bossy. Everyday you are banking toward the same end, both to be more godly in relationships (guy and girl) and most importantly for Eternity.
3. Ask yourself: How pure is my heart? Purity runs deeper than avoiding sex before marriage; it is also about our emotions and affections. Author Paul Tripp in his book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, explains that a desire, if left unchecked, can grow and take over our hearts in such a way that it morphs into a demand. At this crossroad my heart is no longer satisfied with God’s comfort, so it will often choose to do some more off-roading, away from the safe house of God’s sovereignty. If like me, you ever find your heart lost in the badlands of demand, listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompts to reroute and ask God for the grace to offer your heart back to Him for healing. God’s heart track record is 100%.
4. Ask yourself: How much does my heart laugh? This one can be a real doozy when I wonder how to have joy for someone who gets what I’m longing for. We all desire something that the people in our life often receive before we do – a boyfriend, a baby, a husband, a job, a house, closer friendships, more vacation time. Long term joy comes from an eternal perspective. Pushing out our perspective is like zooming out on the GPS. Banking for Eternity lets us live in the day to day moments with joy. And when my heart just won’t behave, I flip a U-turn. Instead of looking out the window and wondering if I’ll ever get my heart where it needs to be, I try looking instead at Christ’s heart. His is exactly what He wants mine to be. And pretty soon I realize He’s back in the driver’s seat where He belongs.
I am a single Christian woman, part old soul, part young in spirit. I work with team of literacy coaches in a local school district that support teaching best practices. Five years and counting, I’ve been privileged to serve my church in our college and singles ministries. Living a Christian, single life and embracing Godly femininity all at once takes practice. My goal is to provide young women, married and single, some of the lessons God is teaching me along the way. It is my hope that you will find a piece of yourself or someone you know inside of these words. If you do, please pass them on. Let us consider together then how to stir one another up toward love and good works! (Hebrews 10:24)
What question do you need to ask your heart first?
When your heart has wandered off course, how have you brought it back?