Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

The best is yet to come

Could you use some good news this morning? I could. This hasn’t exactly been an awful week. I’ve absolutely had worse, but every day this week has felt gloomy, as though I’ve been living in some kind of hazy shadow world. Every day has felt like the mornings when the fog is thick on the roads and even if you try to shine your light brighter all it does it reflect back in your face and blind you.

I’ve finally just hit the point where I want some good news. It doesn’t even have to be great news. Just something good. Just something positive and uplifting. Something to remember on the foggy, dreary, gloomy days when all I want to do is stay in bed and give up.

So I needed this bit of good news today.

Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm – Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Romans 8:18-27.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Know what this set of verses means?

The best is yet to come.

That’s what it means.

I get bogged down by life easily. My life is just so full, and that’s a good thing. But it can get too full pretty quickly, and before you know it, I get caught in the trap of thinking that this is all there is. I mean, theoretically I know that this world isn’t my home and that heaven will be better and that God’s going to make a way where there seems to be no way. I know that He’s a strong tower. I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that when the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

I know all that. But that’s tomorrow. And I’m stuck in a perpetual today. So how do I focus on what matters, how do I keep pressing forward, how do I keep taking aim over and over and over knowing that I’ll miss even when I do my best—and do all of that cheerfully?

I know the best is yet to come. But how do I live like it? Right now I’m like a tired old horse struggling under the weight of a plow in a field too dry to work. And this set of verses says I’m supposed to wait with eager hope? Well how do I hold on to eager hope when the hope I feel is more like dragging an anchor along the bottom of a muddy lake. Hope is more like a chain around my neck than a set of wings that lets me fly. At least, that’s what it feels like on these gloomy days.

Maybe it’s cliche and maybe people are tired of reading it, but the best verse to remember when you’re trying to hold on to eager hope is the verse that directly follows the passage above: Romans 8:28.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Want to know how to hold on to hope when it feels like everything is going wrong? Want to know how to keep living in the light when it feels like everyone around you is lost in the darkness? Want to know how to react when you don’t get what you want or what you think you need? Remember Romans 8:28.

If you are following Christ, if you are seeking Him first, if you are partnering with Him to make a difference (no matter how big or how small), God is working out the details in your life. And even when it seems like everything is falling apart, God still has a plan … and it’s a good plan.

If you’re down and facing a lot of discouragement, just remember that God has a plan. And remember that this world isn’t the end. There’s something beyond this world, a life beyond wonderful, and when God is finished with us down here, we get to go there.

Tomorrow may be hard to face, but hold on to hope because God is working things out down here. And when He’s done working things out down here, we get to go home. And once we get home … well, even our best days here pale in comparison to what our worst day in eternity will be like.

 

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Penguin at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Choosing to rejoice

Christians are called to rejoice. Did you know that? We’re supposed to rejoice. It’s all over Scripture. Over and over again. Rejoice in good times. Rejoice in bad times. Rejoice when we get what we want and when we don’t. Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice … and again I say, rejoice!

It’s even in today’s verse!

Penguin at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Penguin at the Sedgwick County Zoo – Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Romans 12:12.

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

But what is rejoicing? It’s not exactly one of those words we use a lot in our culture. For me, it usually only comes up when somebody is making fun of old-fashioned ways of speaking.

So, grammar and language nerd that I am, I decided to look it up on Dictionary.com. And this is what it had to say: 

Rejoice (verb used without object): 1. to be glad; take delight (often followed by in ): to rejoice in another’s happiness. (verb used with object) 2. to make joyful; gladden: a song to rejoice the heart.
 
Again, I love words. So this caught my eye. That rejoice can be both a transitive verb and an intransitive verb, meaning that it can be used with or without an object. Not all verbs are like that. Let me rephrase for the non-grammarians who I know are rolling my eyes at me right now:  
 
It means you rejoice because of something or it means that something makes you rejoice.
 
Maybe that sounds the same, but if you think about it, the context is completely different.
 
If something makes you rejoice, you don’t really choose it. It’s something so wonderful you just can’t help but be glad. But if you rejoice because of something, that doesn’t generally mean it’s something wonderful. That just means you choose to rejoice, and it can mean you choose to rejoice in spite of what has happened.
 
The verse says rejoice in our confident hope. I’ve blogged on this verse before and on the phrase confident hope, especially because there are other instances throughout Scripture where confident hope plays a big role in our walk. But at this point in my week of Mondays, I think I need to focus on rejoicing.
 
When I hear the phrase, “Rejoice in our confident hope,” my first reaction isn’t to think about hope. My first thought is an exclamation of how am I going to rejoice at all? In anything?
 
I’m exhausted. I’m stressed out. I’m worn down with waiting, and even though I’ve gotten some answers, they weren’t the answers I wanted. So how can I rejoice about all of that? Any rejoicing I do for any of that is likely to come off as half-hearted or sarcastic, and I don’t think God would appreciate that.
 
Remember the confusing discussion of transitive and intransitive verbs above? This use of rejoice is intransitive, meaning it doesn’t need an object. In my meager definition, it means you rejoice because of something. You choose it.
 
We can choose to rejoice in our confident hope, no matter what our circumstances are. Why? Because it’s confident hope.
 
So if you’ve had a great week and everything is going right in your life, that’s something that will make you rejoice.
 
But if you’re like me and have had a frustrating string of days where nothing goes as planned and you don’t get what you want and all you really want to do is stay in bed, choose to rejoice anyway.
 
If your hope is in Christ, it’s confident. Even if you don’t feel like it’s confident, it is. Because Christ is trustworthy. And He knows what you need. And He’s working everything out. And He never makes mistakes, and He always keeps His promises. Your hope is confident, even if you don’t feel like it is. And that means, you can choose to rejoice.
 
Try it. It makes all the difference in the world. And after a few days of choosing to rejoice, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to rejoice without thinking about it.
Meerkat watching a plane fly over the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

God gets us

Do you ever wish that somebody knew you? Really knew you? I am blessed to have a couple of really awesome friends in my life who know me better than anyone else–sometimes even better than I know myself. But some days I am too busy to hang out with them or spend time with them. Some days it’s all I can do to just drag myself out of bed and get to work so that I can drag myself home again, and on those days, it can be very easy to feel like no one gets me.

Those friends of mine read this blog and are probably getting a text message ready to scold me right now. =) You know who you are.

Emotions are unstable and feelings can betray us, but we still have to live with them. And even if you can’t help the way you feel, you can take steps to prevent yourself from falling into the trap of thinking that nobody gets you. Even if you have friends who get you, some days you won’t feel like it. And on those days, you need to remember Psalm 139.

Meerkat watching a plane fly over the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Meerkat watching a plane fly over the Sedgwick County Zoo – Wichita, KS

Psalm 139

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
    but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

The most amazing thing about God is that He really does know everything about us … and He loves us anyway. More than loves us. Adores us. Enough to think about us all the time! That’s awesome to me.

So if you’re feeling alone or neglected or like no one can understand what’s going on inside your head, remember God gets you.

Sunrise on Jamaica Beach - Galveston, TX

Borrowing trouble

English is kind of fun. Since I started working with people who aren’t American and for whom English is a second language, we’ve had a lot of really fascinating conversations about English idiom. Upsetting the apple cart. Pulling the wool over someone’s eyes. Things like that. Well, today’s verses made me think of the idiom, borrowing trouble. According to Dictionary.com, to borrow trouble means to “go out of one’s way to do something that may be harmful.”

The example Dictionary.com gave was a statement: “Just sign the will. Telling her about it ahead of time is just borrowing trouble.”

It means to expend emotional or physical resources to accomplish something that may be unnecessary in the long run, something that may turn out to be even more difficult to handle than the current situation.

Sunrise on Jamaica Beach - Galveston, TX

Sunrise on Jamaica Beach – Galveston, TX

Today’s verses are Matthew 6:33-34.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Tomorrow is that strange, foreign land that we can’t see until we get there. Shakespeare called the future “the undiscovered country” in Hamlet (Act III, Scene 1). And like everything we can’t understand until we experience it, it’s easier to worry about it than to ignore it. But worrying doesn’t really accomplish anything. Have you noticed that?

What is it about worrying that makes us feel like we are more in control than not? I don’t know what it is. If I did, I would find out and fix it. Because worrying has turned more of my hair silver than anything else (and, yes, I do have gray hair). But no matter how much worrying I do, I still can’t solve a problem before it happens. I can sit and speculate about what might happen until I’m blue in the face, but I can’t do anything about it until what’s going to happen actually happens.

What good does worrying about it do?

There is a difference between worrying and planning. You do want to plan. You do want to be prepared for the worst case scenario. But that’s where it needs to stop.

Tomorrow is the future. Tomorrow is Shakespeare’s undiscovered country. And worrying about what happens tomorrow will rob us of what is going on in our lives today.

The whole chapter of Matthew 6 is part of a lengthy but revolutionary sermon that Jesus preached called The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). It was unlike anything people had ever heard before because previous teachers couldn’t speak with real authority. The teachers of religious law that the people had always listened to previously couldn’t speak like Jesus could. And a good deal of Matthew 6 talks about worrying.

We’re all good at worrying. We worry about food. We worry about clothes. We worry about finances. And it’s amazing to me that Jesus spoke on this in the First Century because they’re still issues we worry about today. Apparently it’s something people are just prone to worrying about.

But Jesus says not to worry (Matthew 6:25-32):

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Instead of worrying about tomorrow — instead of borrowing trouble — we need to seek God first today. Don’t regret yesterday; don’t worry about tomorrow; run after God today. God knows what you need, and He’ll take care of it.

Sunflower at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Watching for answers

If you ask your closest friend to do something for you, do you step back and forget about it and are surprised when they do it? Or do you wait expectantly for them to do as you’ve asked? If one of my friends asked me for something within my power to give, I wouldn’t be able to rest until I got it done. But if my friend asked me to do something for her and then she acted as though it weren’t important, I don’t know if I would be as urgent in completing her request.

If she weren’t actively looking for an answer to her request, I might not make it a priority. Because if she doesn’t care enough about what she’s asked for to look for it, is it really something I need to spend my time doing?

Sunflower at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Sunflower at Safe Haven Farm – Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Colossians 4:2.

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

When I first read today’s verse, I actually read it in the Message. And this is what it says in the Message:

Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.

It’s nice too. But I don’t think it’s grasping the specific meaning of this verse, if I’m reading the English translation correctly. On first read, this verse seemed (to me) to be saying two separate things, Pray diligently and Stay alert.

It’s good to pray diligently. It’s good to be stay alert. Both of those are good to do separately, but they’re even better to do at the same time, which is actually what this verse is talking about. For a little more specific focus, check out the Amplified Version:

Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving.

I’m good at praying. I pray a lot. God and I are pretty much on very earnest speaking terms. I tell Him everything. I tell Him things I won’t tell anyone else, including my best friends. There are just some parts of me that are reserved for Him and Him alone.

But I’ll tell you what I’m not good at: expecting.

Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten my hopes up too many times. Maybe it’s because my dreams haven’t come true so many times. And I trust Him completely, because even if He hasn’t answered my requests exactly like I would want, He has always answered. And it’s good that I haven’t gotten what I wanted when I wanted it because He knows what’s better for me anyway. But it’s difficult for me to ask Him for something and then wait expectantly for Him to answer. Why? Because I want Him to answer the way I want, not necessarily the way I need.

But this verse doesn’t say to pray to God and forget about what you’ve asked Him for. No. It says pray (earnestly, unwearied, and steadfastly) and be both alert and intent in your prayers. What does that mean?

That means, ask God for something and watch for Him to answer.

How many of us do that? How many of us remain alert after we ask Go for something. I don’t. Deep down, I’m afraid that He won’t answer. Or that I won’t like His answer. So I ask Him and then to guard my heart, I conveniently step back from it.

But what does that say about how much I want what I’m asking for? To me, backing away from a request after I’ve made it, show disinterest, like I don’t really care. And that’s not the message I want to send. Yes, God knows my heart. Yes, He knows what I’m going to ask for before I ask for it. But in humility, we need to tell Him what we want. And then, with gratitude, we need to watch for His answer — no matter what it is.

The trick is to want His will more than anything else. The goal is to desire His plan above any desire in your heart, to want His dream more than yours. And that’s difficult to do. And, yes, I believe God gives us dreams for a reason. He’s created us to be who we are for a purpose, and he’s put us in specific places in order for us to make a difference. But our dreams won’t make a difference until they sync up with His.

Maybe this is taken out of context. But I don’t think so. Remember how Jesus prayed just before the crucifixion in Matthew 26:39?

“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Jesus wanted something. If possible, He didn’t want to go to the cross. Who can blame Him? He asked God if there were any other way. But before He waited for an answer, He recognized that God’s plan was better than what He felt like.

So the next time you ask God for something, don’t forget to stay alert and watch for His answer with thankfulness. And even as you ask, make sure you really are content with God’s will above your own. His plan is better. But you have to believe that. Because if you don’t, when you don’t get the answer you want, it will throw you.

Pelicans flying together - Galveston, TX

Follow God’s heart

How can I say that we can’t trust our hearts? The number one reason is because the Bible says so. Maybe that’s simplistic, but I have chosen to believe the Bible word for word. I believe the Bible is the literal Word of God, the absolute truth.

So what happens when the Bible contradicts “science” and “logic”? What happens when the Bible contradicts popular culture? What happens when the Bible contradicts the way I feel?

Is truth any less true because someone disagrees with it? No. Truth is bigger than any of our petty disagreements. But that’s a really deep answer to a pretty simple question. Can we trust our hearts? No. Because the Bible says so, and not just in Jeremiah 17:9-10.

Pelicans flying together - Galveston, TX

Pelicans flying together – Galveston, TX

But let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. If we can’t trust our hearts because they are wicked, does that mean that we as people are wicked? Well, yes. But what about Christ? Did Christ’s sacrifice mean anything to our hearts? The Bible is full of examples of the fact that the sphere of influence and knowledge of God comes through the heart, but if the heart is wicked how can it seek after God? If our hearts are depraved, why do they mean so much to God?

And what about 2 Corinthians 5:17? “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Does this verse not reference our hearts too? If we’ve chosen to follow Christ, that means we have become new people. Are our hearts exempt?

Just as I believe that the Bible is word-for-word, literal absolute truth, I believe it never contradicts itself. And if you study it, you’ll realize it never does. If we ever think it does, it’s always a lack of understanding on our part.

So, are our hearts wicked? Yes. Are our hearts new if we believe in Christ? Yes. How can those two truths be true at the same time?

Before I go any further, let me say again that I am not a scholar. I don’t speak Greek. I’m not a historian or a cultural expert. I love the Bible, and God has been my best friend for longer than I can remember. And this is an issue I have struggled with, but please don’t take my word for it. This is just my opinion on what the Bible says about this topic. It’s so much better (and it means so much more) if you work out what you believe on your own rather than trusting what I say or what someone else says.

That being said, also remember that this devotional today is directed at Believers. If you haven’t made the choice to follow Christ, that’s your prerogative. But just so you are aware, Believers have a lot of choices to make even after they choose to follow Christ. It’s not just a box you check on a form. Yes, our lives and our spirits are redeemed, but we aren’t made perfect. We don’t always make the right choices by virtue of our faith in Christ. That’s why we have the Bible, to help us know what is right and true. That’s why God has given us His Holy Spirit so that we can understand God’s will for our lives. So if you haven’t accepted Christ, none of this will make any sense to you. But if you have, this is probably an issue you struggle with or at least it’s a question you ask frequently.

The first thing to remember, Christians, is that every Believer is two people. Even if you have given your heart to Christ, that doesn’t mean that you are perfect. Not yet.

The best example I know about the sin nature of a Christian comes from Romans 7:14-25, where Paul is talking about his frustrations with sin.

So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Right now, as we are living on earth as Believers in Christ, our lives have been redeemed. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see our sinful pasts or our bad choices; He sees the blood of Christ, who died to forgive us and justify us.

But within every Believer is the capacity to do horrible things. Still. Even though our hearts and our spirits are redeemed, we can still choose to do what we know is wrong. Why? Because we have the choice to be led by the Spirit or led by the Flesh. Those are really theologically biblical terms, and they sound kind of freaky. So let me try to find another way to say this.

The Flesh is your human nature. It’s your pride. It’s the “if it feels good, do it” mentality. It’s the pragmatic, the-end-justifies-the-means outlook on morality and ethics. It’s the eye-for-an-eye, grudge-holding, stony-hearted perspective on life. The Flesh is relying on your own understanding. The Flesh is living life by listening only to your emotions.

The Spirit is your second nature, if you believe in Christ. The Spirit is what God has put inside you and healed inside you so that you can be connected to Him. It’s that part of you that knows what is right and what is wrong. It’s that part of you that helps you understand Scripture, the part of you that communicates with God. It’s the whisper at the back of your mind that what you’re about to do will make God sad.

There’s no in between option. And Christians can still make decisions based on the Flesh, even though we are all called to make decisions based on the Spirit.

Okay, so where does the heart come into all this? In the devotional I posted yesterday, I said it was never a good idea to follow your heart. I probably should have been more specific. What I should have said is that it’s never a good idea to follow just your heart.

There are times when God will put a desire in our hearts. In those moments, when your heart moves you to do something, you should do it. But before you do it, you need to make sure that the desire really comes from God.

Why? Because we are two people, remember? As Believers, we have two natures living in our lives, and all too often, they get jumbled up. But there’s a way to tell when a desire comes from God or from your Flesh:

A dream that comes from God will always put others first and always bring God glory.

This is an excerpt from The Love Dare written by Stephen and Alex Kendrick:

King Solomon said, “A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left.” (Ecclesiastes 10:2). Just as your heart can direct you toward hatred, lust, and violence, it can also be driven by love, truth, and kindness. As you walk with God, He will put dreams in your heart that He wants to fulfill in your life. He will also put skills and abilities in your heart that He wants to develop for His glory (Exodus 35:30-35). He will give you the desire to give (2 Corinthians 9:7) and worship (Ephesians 5:19). As you put God first, He will step in and fulfill the good desires of your heart. The Bible says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). But the only time you can feel good about following your heart is when you know your heart is intent on serving and pleasing God.

A great friend of mine (who really is a Bible scholar) posted a response to yesterday’s blog that I thought was pretty awesome and explained the root of the issue succinctly.

Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything else flows from it.” Some versions say it’s the “wellspring of life.” This does not mean put your heart under lock and key and never share it with anyone, but actually more the opposite. It’s telling us to be careful what we let IN to our hearts because everything else/life flows FROM it! Once something gets in, it corrupts what flows out, whether for good or for bad. So the problem of letting sin into our hearts is that we can no longer trust our hearts. However:

“When you make God your primary passion, He transforms all the passions of your heart. The result of this transformation is that it will be God’s pleasure to fulfill those passions. Beyond this wonderful promise is the realization that when this transformation occurs, your passions become your best compass for your spiritual journey. When God is your desire, you can trust the passions of your heart.” – Erwin McManus (Uprising)

So in essence, it’s better to make the term “Just follow God’s heart.” Because everything else (life!) flows from it. Literally.

And I like that. Follow God’s heart. Because you know you can trust God’s heart. And if you are truly intent on doing what God wants, if you are truly seeking Him first and following the Spirit’s lead in your life, you probably can trust your heart too … but only because those qualities represent God’s heart in your life. And it’s a daily (hourly, mintely?) choice to keep following God’s heart because it’s not our default setting.

A rocky path with a light at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Follow your heart?

What does it mean to follow your heart? I’ve started hearing that a lot recently and not just from secular movies and television shows. I expect it from them. But I’ve started hearing it from Christians. Christians have started saying “follow your heart” when faced with a difficult decision. But I’m afraid it’s turned into one of those statements that everybody says but nobody really understands what it means.

In my understanding, following your heart or being true to your heart means that you should make the choice that reflects who you are inside.

Okay. Well there would be nothing wrong with that if our hearts were trustworthy. But they’re not.

A rocky path with a light at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

A rocky path with a light at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Jeremiah 17:9-10.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
    according to what their actions deserve.”

The heart is a Western euphemism to refer to the seat of the emotions. The Western world uses the heart to describe the core of a person, who they are, what they’re about, etc. So if you tell someone that they have a kind heart, you’re telling them they are a kind and compassionate person. And if you tell someone to follow their heart, you’re telling them to judge a situation for themselves and make a decision based on what they think is right.

I think I understand what Christians are trying to say when they tell me to follow my heart. They’re telling me to do what I think is best. But I’ll be honest, if I’m involved in a difficult situation, and if going to do what I think is best, it won’t turn out for the best. If I’m going to do what I think is right, the whole situation will all come crashing down on my head. Because on my own I don’t know what’s best. Because on my own I don’t know what’s right.

If I want to know what’s right and what’s best, I need to consult with God. Not my heart. Not my inner self.

And yes, I’m redeemed. So is my heart. But I can’t trust my heart. My heart will tell me that I want something that God has already told me I shouldn’t have. My heart will tell me to react harshly in conflict where God will tell me to be kind and humble. My heart is never satisfied where God calls me to be content.

Christians, we shouldn’t follow our hearts. We follow Christ.

Your heart won’t rest until you’re ruined. And even then, it will still try to keep you down. Our hearts are dangerous, dark things. They can’t be trusted at all.

Does that mean you can’t be who you are? No. Not at all. Who you are isn’t dependent on your heart. Who you are isn’t dependant on your physical body or your actions anyway. Who you are depends on who God made you to be. And no one knows you better than God does, so He won’t guide you to do something that contradicts His plan for you.

If you don’t know what to do in a situation, don’t look deep inside yourself for the answer. You don’t have it. If you don’t know what is right, ask God. If you follow Christ, the Holy Spirit lives inside you anyway. He’s right there. So just ask Him what to do. Read Scripture. And if you can’t think of a good Bible story that matches your situation, Google it. And if that doesn’t work, ask a trusted mature Christian friend.

But whatever you do, don’t follow your heart. You’ll end up in deep trouble. You’ll cause more problems than you solve. And in the end, your heart will only dig you a deeper hole to fall into rather than lighting the path for your escape.