Two things I desire to have smelted from my heart: A wrong belief that things and/or human relationships can be ultimately satisfying - and - a tendency toward melancholy. Bad, bad, bad combination!
I remember as a girl an episode when I struggled particularly hard with this Dastardly Duo. I don't remember what precipitated the inward turmoil - death of a family member? hurt feelings at school? loss of a beloved pet? - but I vividly remember lying in bed one night, tears streaming down my face, confessing to God that my heart was fickle, that I had conditioned too much of my happiness and security in something or someone beside Him. As a consequence, the bitter fruit of loss (or rejection or disappointment) had become too terrible for me to swallow.
I specifically remember asking God to take my heart and keep it for Himself. "Lord," I wept, "I give this fickle heart where it ought not be given, in ways that I should not give it. Please, keep it for yourself. This heart belongs to You...it is Yours. And when I try to take it back so that I can invest wrongly in some new fancy, please don't let me have it. Lord, you must be the guardian and keeper of this heart, because I cannot tend it well. Teach me to rest, to be content, in You, and to trust You to tend my foolish heart as You see fit."
That was probably, oh, 35 or 40 years ago. And, yes, I've tried to take this heart back many, many times. Even tried to justify doing so to God. "Lord, I know You would want me to have ______. I mean, I wouldn't even have this desire if You hadn't given it to me, right?" - when what I honestly mean is, God, I reallyreallyreally want this thing. I NEED it. I'll be miserable without it! - OR - "Lord, I think this relationship would honor you" - when what I really mean is, I've already gone emotionally too far with this guy, and he's really cute, and, well, he goes to church most Sundays, and I don't think I could be happy without this relationship. You want me to be happy, right?
Occasionally, God has allowed me to indulge my wayward heart. "Okay, you think this will make you truly happy, Camille? Let's just see..." Strangely, whatever I think it is that will satisfy my heart always falls so far short, and then I'm back to swallowing that bitter cup of disappointment again. Back on my knees before God, longing for His presence and favor, confessing that No, the relationship or the job or the membership at the fitness center really was not enough.
This morning I was reading in Hosea, and this verse seemed to leap off the page: They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds; for grain and wine they gash themselves; they rebel against me...They return, but not to the Most High. (Hosea 7:14, 16b)
A painful description of my own heart! How many times have I lain weeping, crying out for temporal things, for "grain and wine" - earthly relationships, financial security, relief from pain, sleep - yet failed to cry out for God Himself. I want good things, God's blessings, but I so often want them wrongly: I begin to believe the lie that these things will satisfy me. I start shifting the basis of my security and happiness from a relationship with my Creator, to a relationship with His creation. Inevitably, the "grain and wine" prove inadequate to meet my heart's needs. They do not satisfy. And I find myself crying out with the Psalmist, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Thankfully, despite my faithlessness, God is faithful. My heart is prone to wander, but God is a faithful shepherd, seeking me out and wooing me back. Yes, God has answered and continues to answer the prayer of that girl from so long ago.
The Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one...May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. - 2 Thessalonians 3:3,5
3 weeks ago