Guarding the heart is one of our primary callings by God. As such, it shouldn’t be too surprising that it’s also one of the most challenging things to do. If we are told, “above all else, guard your heart, because everything you do flows from it”. Proverbs 4:23.
That’s a big statement that far too often I think we scan over and acknowledge, but rarely apply.
The heart is also a major target our enemy likes to take out. Anything to kill, steal, and destroy our hearts.
I find that whenever fear, anxiety, despair, worry, panic, doubt, bitterness, and envy rise up within me due to some external event, it wounds my heart. It’s sours my soul.
One translation of Luke 6:26 when speaking of our enemies tells us to not let them bring out the worst in us but to bring out our best.
Truly, a seemingly impossible task at times, which also speaks to why it’s so important to guard our hearts, and to not allow the enemy, or anyone else to pollute it.
Alternately, when we respond in honesty that whatever is happening or has happened to us hurts, is hard, and is actually harmful, we aren’t denying anything – but amidst all this we’re passionately praying for help.
Asking for help from God. Asking for His intervention, His blessing and His healing – and not just for ourselves, but for our “enemies” as well.
Praying for their blessing, for their best, for their healing, and for them to find and know God’s favor is hard. However, such things help recover, and restore our hearts. I also find it stretches my faith, my hope, and my trust in God, and requires much more strength than holding onto the bitterness and anger I so quickly want to turn to.
This is where seeking fuel for my heart and soul becomes so important – something I neglected or didn’t know how to do for so long. All I felt safe doing was committing myself to duty, obligation, career, and tasks.
For me, the risk and reward has been getting bolder in pursuing inner passions, allowing myself to marvel at God’s creations, His invitations, and to simply relearn how to play.
As such, I have taken up, and am going deeper into activities and adventures I have always desired to learn and do.
Why? Well, they are interests I have outside of work, that’s true, but mostly I find engaging them is also changing how I respond to my work and family, and even my enemies. I find I think less about my struggles when pursing such things and do much more praising. I am also more grateful, more calm, and my heart is much healthier. I can’t fully explain why this is, but I am gaining a deeper sense of life – a renewal, and a revival deep within by stepping out of my “work orientated” comfort zones and into the greater unknowns.
I am always praying when I’m “playing” at these things – I can’t help but too. These are quick – thank you, Jesus, type prayers in my heart, and sometimes even out loud as I’m kayaking along the banks of our local river and watching the wildlife abounding all around.
Indeed, guarding our hearts requires active and hard work – but it’s good work – great work even. And as I’m learning, it’s continual. For the heart is under constant attacks. To keep it from sinking into despair, danger, and distress, we must reject the worst of us that evil invites us into to, and respond instead with the best of us – which is always Christ. As such, we must learn to live as He did. He blessed His enemies, was always truthful to a situation, and always took time to pray.
It’s also important to note that if indeed our heart’s desires come from God – then a heart devoted to God will have invitations from God. I am learning to follow these invitations wherever they may lead me – often times breaking me free from the dutiful mentalities I bring to most everything.
Instead, I’m being invited to play well with my Father – To learn new things, which leads me to meet new people, build new relationships, explore His creation, and as a I do, my heart grows, heals, and I find beauty where evil once taunted me to see despair.
As we learn to guard our hearts and even care for them, we better learn who we are, and our place in this creation with God, others, and ourselves. Which helps us engage life healthier, wiser, and dare I say it, holier. Both beauty and danger is allowed to surround us, but which will get the better of us? We have been blessed to even be given that choice.