The other day a friend of mine and I were catching up over FaceTime, which is what you do when keeping up a cross-country friendship. He asked me a question he quite frequently asks, one I find both brilliant and irritating. I guess that is the natural affect of great questions. It’s a rather simple one, some would even characterize it as cheesy, a Christian-cliché if there ever was one. But when this question is delivered with one’s sincerity and undivided attention, well, it could end up being one of the greatest conversations of your life.
“How’s your heart?”
I told you it was simple. And I told you it could be easily dismissed into the pile of grandma’s embroidered pillows and Hallmark cards and Christian bumper stickers… Full of a lot of sentiment but not well considered by a world full of a lot of cynicism. But just because our first inclination could be to mark it as irrelevant or respond with either a shallow answer or a sarcastic remark, doesn’t mean it isn’t an important question.
It’s probably more important then we could ever know. It may just be the most urgent and unasked question there is. “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.” “Out of the heart flow the issues of life.” “Where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.” “Above all else, guard your heart.”
Apparently, the condition of our heart is a serious matter, one deserving of more attention and conversation than we are used to.
I’m glad my friend has the wisdom to ask questions I’d rather leave unanswered. Those are the types of self-exposing, soul-searching, heart-revealing questions that produce not just clarity, but an invitation from Jesus to come to Him and receive from Him all that we need.
And so today, my friend, I would like to turn the tables a bit, and now ask you what I was recently asked. I may not be in the same room with you, but I am a friend of sorts. I want what is best for you. I am cheering you on. I am actually praying for you, and not just saying I’ll pray for you. I’m praying this question and your reaction will bring health to your heart. I may not be in the same room with you, but the Holy Spirit is. And as I ask your heart a few questions, I pray you would hear the Holy Spirit speak to you and allow Him to minister to your heart in ways that I or no other person ever could. So, here goes…
Dear reader, friend, let down your guard, eliminate what could be distracting, and please avoid the tendency to answer too quickly. For your sake, would you be still, would you present, and would you be open as I speak directly to your heart for the next moments we have together in this blog?
Oh heart, how are you? How are you doing, really?
Are you slave to the hustle and bustle, the daily grind, the 9 to 5 that never actually seems to stay neatly confined to those hours, the alarm clock awakenings and the email correspondence and the text message replies and the app updates and iCal reminders and the Evernote never ending to-do lists? Or are you free to live, to breathe, to take in each moment and be filled with comfort and promise and refreshing and hope?
Are you escaping into dramatic plot twists and medicating your feelings through romanticized love affairs and living vicariously through epic action sequences of the small screen or the big screen or the online streaming or the next kindle download? Or are you daring to live out a compelling story line of your own with each precious day you’ve been given?
Are you so worn out from disappointments that you’ve stopped trying, you’ve stopped dreaming, you’ve perhaps even stopped believing; and now you find yourself an almost ghostlike figure of the person you used to be so full of excitement and potential? Or are you dreaming again, hoping again, praying again, dusting off your skidded knees from the fall and beginning to run again, recapturing a vibrant pace you once had?
Are you hiding in the shadows of others expectations of you and what they’ll say or how they’ll disapprove or who will be bothered and what the critics will talk about or how it will disappoint and let others down or what they will now think of you? Or are you unashamedly and unmasked you, no more, no less, wildly contented as a loved beyond measure child of God?
Are you angry and have no idea what to do about it? Are you angry at almost anyone and everyone and you cleverly hide it behind polite manners and politically correct responses and fake smiles and generic answers to the “how’s your day” type questions? And are you mad at everyone because if you were really honest you’re furious at yourself and you’re furious at God and have no idea how those two angers could actually reside in the heart of a Christian? Or are you duking it out with God, wrestling like the great patriarch Jacob did, not willing to end the conversation until God answers you; because you’d rather live the rest of your life with a limp filled with peace than to continue one more day with this hidden rage?
Are you hurting, are you bruised, are you aching, or you cracked or even broken, and are you afraid to expose your wounds to healing because you fear the pain that will involve, and you don’t want anymore pain? Or are you trusting enough to let the Great Healer examine you, bandage you, reset you, and put you back together again?
Are you lonely, craving real conversations that matter not because they are trending on twitter or because it was discussed on almost everyone’s snapchat or the Kardashians mentioned it on the latest episode but because it’s what your soul needs? Are you pining for a kind word, a warm touch, a genuine look, a sincere smile, an affirmation uncontaminated by manipulation or greed? Are you surrounded by people everyday, talking with people and working with people and living with people and yet, it would seem, somewhat invisible to people? Or are you known and loved by others? Are you accepted not as you could be but as you are? Are you valued not for what you do but for who you are? Are you laughing with and weeping with and eating with and dreaming with and confessing with and celebrating with other children of God?
Are you stuck in a rut of routine and stagnant in your current state unsure of your own path to progress? Have you substituted curiosity for consumerism and awe and wonder for been there, done that? Have you replaced your need to be fully engaged with needing to be adequately entertained? Have you exchanged intellectual and spiritual ponderings with medicating pleasures and self-imposed policies to help make the most of your own stunted growth? Or are you bursting at the seams with curiosity, still stunned by this amazing gift called grace, still impressed by the supreme knowledge of Jesus, still having your mind blown by the new lessons He is teaching you, the new mysteries He is revealing to you from the pages of His written Word and the whispers of His Spirit that illuminate the complex chambers of your innermost being?
Are you serving the king of convenience, the chancellor of comfort, the sultan of selfishness, pushing and shoving your way through life to get what you want when you want it how you want it? And when you don’t get it on your terms is everyone else to blame, even the ones you misused, tossed aside, or threw under the bus for your own gain? Or have you discovered yet that it’s when you don’t get what you want that your eyes become opened to what you actually need? And have you figured out yet the great joy in giving that is far more satisfying than receiving? Have you discovered the serenity in serving others that shallow selfishness sells us on, but can never actually provide?
Are you so distracted by the endless messaging of this world and so overstimulated by the constant noise that you’ve stopped hearing the voice of God? Have you settled for a passionless marriage of sorts with your Savior, one void of honesty and intimacy and sincerity and driven only by obligation and complacency? Or can you see that everyday in a thousand different, little ways you are still being romanced by God? Are you seeing Him and listening to Him and being with Him and being radically, recklessly transformed by His endless and furious love for you?
Oh, heart, oh wildly magnificent and captivatingly complicated and stunningly simple and triumphantly vulnerable heart, how are you? You matter. Your longings and your frustrations and your cravings and your ponderings, they all matter. They must be heard, so now’s the time to speak up. Heart, you have the undivided attention of the One who made you and the One who is ready to give you all that you really need. Refuse to let fear or stress or pain or anything else for that matter keep you living in the shadows, unattended to and malnourished. Speak, your Savior is listening. And once you have spoken, once you have let your voice be heard, then be quiet. Be still. Listen, and let the Heart-Healer speak. Be with Jesus and receive from Him. For He knows you and adores you more than any other, and His love for you will remain forever and ever.