1 Chronicles 28:9b (NIV) "Serve God with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever."
My life became void of a personal exchange with God. My heart was suffocating and I began to drown in robotic rituals. I waded in stagnant waters of programmed prayers, manufactured worship and monotonous devotions while my heart shifted toward shallowness.
I managed to reduce my relationship with God to a list. My spiritual inventory looked something like this: Let's get this done so I can get on with my day. Read the Bible for ten minutes. Check. Pray for five minutes. Check. Glance over this week's study. Check. Go to church. Check. Go to Bible study. Check.
Maybe you've had a similar list make circles in your head. The agenda mechanically gets done each day, each week, but you slowly become empty for spiritual depth and companionship. In your quest for conquering the outline, you go through the motions void of any connection to your heart. You may even assume you can earn points in your relationship with Christ like you're marking off a ballot.
Many of us know what we ought to do, but fail to have the "want-to." For example, we know we should read our Bibles and pray, but when we do, our hearts may not be engaged. We know we should go to church, but we're unmotivated. Maybe our time in the Word is viewed as homework or like it's some kind of chore to open up the Bible.
The real issue is a matter of eighteen inches: the distance between our head and our heart. "Knowing what we ought to do" and possessing the "want-to" are opposite ends of the spectrum. The "want-to" of our heart must reach beyond our list of decrees. Changing the motives of our heart is more than mere head knowledge; it is heart penetration and transformation.
We may cognitively know in our mind the things of God, but knowing them is different than receiving them. When the things of God puncture our heart we make the relationship our own and personally stake claim in it. We are drawn to the arms of a loving God with passion and purpose. And, seeking Him is our utmost priority.
It is vital that we not reduce our walk with Christ to a list of rules and rituals that we forget the relationship. Following "rules" doesn't make us a Christian, but rather, following Christ! We need a change of heart not just behavior.
67 verses in the Bible contain the phrase, "All your heart." The modern usage of the heart during biblical times, refers to it as the seat of affections and implies the innermost being. To love God with all of our heart indicates to do so with everything we are, or, all that is within us. This also suggests that to love God with anything less, is not enough.
Through heartbreaking tragedy, God radically altered my life. He brought to light profound weaknesses and gaping holes in my spreadsheet Christianity. He broke down walls of erected perfectionism, He demolished my poisonous pride and He lanced the seed of legalism. God taught me that my desire should be to love Him with all of my heart, not just pieces of it here and there.
The intimacy I now share with Christ is rich because He bridged the eighteen inch gap in my life. My purpose for doing the same things I did before, now stems from an undivided love for my Savior. He replaced complacency and contentment with a passionate pursuit of Him. He set me free from being a "good" Christian to being a devoted follower.
Please hear my heart: I don't perfectly love God. Yes, He restored my life, but I still must guard my heart from plastic prayers, obligation and irreverent worship. There are days I am tempted to go through the motions, but I must remind myself I was created for more.
In my crusade to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength, the Holy Spirit taught me the following truths. Some of these truths may resonate with you:
- The extent of our desperation for Christ will determine the extent of our depth in Christ.
- The intensity with which we yearn for Him ascertains how easily we yield to Him.
- The capacity that we crave Him will communicate the measure of our commitment to Him.
- The scope of our surrender dictates the magnitude of our sacrifice.
- How fully we know Him defines how far we will kneel for Him.
- Our willingness to submit affects our ability to serve.
- The degree that we long for Him reveals the enormity of our love for Him.
Our "want-to" stems from the expanse of our love. The more we love, the more we desire to please our Lord. The more we love, no sacrifice is too great to strengthen the relationship. The more we love, we are propelled to do things from a pure heart, not from one seeking its own glory or crown.
A heart rightly aligned with Christ loves God and His Word out of devotion not duty; out of love, not a list; out of a relationship, not rules and rituals. Do you have an eighteen inch gap?
List the ways eighteen inches effects you. (The distance between your head and your heart.)
Why is it important for us to grasp that "head knowledge" about the things of God is not enough?
Of the seven truths (bullet points) God taught Hester, which one do you identify with the most?
When are you tempted to reduce your relationship with God to a list?
How would you describe the love you have for God? Is it biblical?
Do "programmed prayers, manufactured worship and monotonous devotions" describe the current state of your connection with God?
How can your "want-to" be revived?
Heart Changing Word:
Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV) "But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul."
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."
Joshua 22:5b "Love the Lord your God, walk in His ways, obey His commands, hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul."
Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. "
Psalm 9:1 "I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders."
Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
Luke 10:27 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself."
Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.
God has bridged my 18 inch gap for me by healing me from the religion of perfectionism! I'm free, He's God and I'm not. He pours grace into my life each day now! Thanks for sharing your heart Hester! -Blessings to you, AmyReplyDelete
Amy, Thank you for your comment. Isn't there such freedom when we grasp His infinite grace. Oh, what life God continues to pour into me. God bless you as you live and walk in His grace. Blessings to you too, HesterReplyDelete
It's amazing how cluttered that 18 inches can get with things that clog the passage. Sarah Young says in Jesus Calling that it's easy to make an idol out of routine. We are called to keep a freshness in our faith, but it's a challenge.ReplyDelete
Good words for today, Hester.
Amen Jan! That 18 inches certainly does get clogged. I really appreciate your quote from Sarah Young. I had never even thought of "routine" becoming an idol, but it certainly can and I've really been pondering that statement since I read it. God bless you, Hester :)ReplyDelete
My daughter was just telling me about the sermon at her church this morning: we have a list of "shoulds" in our heads, but who are we doing them for? We live to please and honor ONE, and everything we do should reflect our commitment to Him.ReplyDelete
Praying I stay on the heart side of those 18 inches! Thanks for the great thoughts!
Hugs from VA :)
Susan, Thank you for your comment. You are so right that we live for an audience of ONE and my prayer is the same as yours, "To stay on the heart side of those 18 inches." Blessings to you, HesterReplyDelete
You always seem to meet me right where I am. I have been feeling the need to 'want to' just not 'need to'. This time of my surgery and recuperation has been hard on my relationship with God. I felt that this was going to be time to really commune with God and discover His will for me as I am contemplating several different ministries. As I write that, it convicts me that I was seeking an answer to what I wanted not what God wanted. How many times do we seek our own will and want it all wrapped up in God's will. Anyway, I found this time to be a very dry time, and I really don't know why. It became easy to get involved in other things than the things of God. It has been really good to get back into the Bible study and the lives of the girls in my group. It's when I'm focused outward that I hear God intimately. One of my favorite praise songs is "Change my heart, oh God! Make it ever new. Change my heart, Oh God! May I be like you. You are the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and shape me, this is what I pray!" I have always known my heart needs to be changed by Him. Left on it own, it becomes so sinful and selfish. Thanks for the reminder that i need to ask Him to make me 'want to'. He's the only one who can change this heart of mine. Hope everything is going well with the closing of your house. Look forward to seeing you soon.
Paula, Thank you for sharing your heart. I love to hear how God is working in others lives too. I appreciate your honesty and openness to God's work in you. I am reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6 ; continue to trust in Him and He will make your paths strait. Love to you sister, Hester ;)ReplyDelete