Written by Rachel Denison
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” –Proverbs 4:23
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” –Matthew 5:8
“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” –Psalm 62:8
The heart is a funny thing. I’m not referring the vital organ in your chest, but the place within you with which comes passion, fear, love, devotion and excitement. That place. The place that is stirred in the presence of God and melts at the experience of his love for us.
God has given us the ability to shut that place off, or keep it open. Most of us move back and forth between the two without realizing it. Usually we close up our hearts as a form of self-perseverance; sometimes we close off because of fear or due to the illusion of control. Sometimes we’re just broken or flat or dry. All of those things are okay, but they aren’t best. They’re not our inheritance.
When my heart is open and fully free to express, now that’s where I want to live. I want to settle into and abide in that place. When my heart is open and free, I am not closed off to receiving God’s love. I don’t shove him off and try to maintain control. I don’t resist surrender. I am fully loved and secure as his child. When I close my heart off to God, I am unable to walk in my full identity and always end up striving for his love, approval and affirmation.
Henri Nouwen once said in his book, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World, “I kept running around it in large or small circles, always looking for someone or something able to convince me of my Belovedness. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved’. Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.”
I often wonder to myself, why don’t I just run to him? Why don’t I have an abiding heart that’s continually open and poured out before him? There is a myriad of answers depending on my day. But what I feel it always come back to is some form of shame. Shame manifests its ugly self differently for different people. I’m one who in my shame often tries to divert the blame, cover up and take control to prove I’m enough. Sound like anyone else? (See Genesis 3 for the Fall)
Recently God has been dealing with me in the subject of Christ’s sacrifice. What is keeping me from believing it was enough for my sin? What is keeping me from believing his grace really is sufficient for my weakness? Why can’t I let go of my shame? This is the current journey I’m on.
There is absolutely nothing in the world like a fresh encounter with the Jesus of the Gospel. When I ask these questions of God, I am always confronted with this God who became man to heal me and walk with me. He knows his love is the remedy to all my fears, all my wonderings: Am I enough? He keeps diverting my question and asking me in response, “Am I enough, Rachel? Can I be enough for you in exchange for your strivings and your shame?”
This is my daily wrestle with the heart: choosing to say and believe—Christ is enough. As I renew my mind to this truth it has been healing my heart, my scared, fragile, insecure heart. I shout out to him in the midst of my striving, “YOU ARE ENOUGH!” As I continue, day by day, believing and choosing that Jesus is enough, my heart is staying open for longer periods of times, past my quiet time in the morning, past my morning commute. I am by no means a pro yet, but I’m fighting for this banged up heart of mine. I am fighting for my heart’s freedom from fear. I am partnering with Jesus to win over my heart. “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” –Proverbs 4:23
The more I believe this truth I can feel his grace becoming sufficient. I can feel his sacrifice make me enough. Wow. He made me enough. He calls me enough. And the striving ceases. My heart becomes still. Fight for your heart. Don’t settle for less than your inheritance as his Beloved. Take those lies captive, and don’t let them squelch out his truth growing deep within. Your heart is important and worth fighting for. What you allow in will determine how your life ends up looking.
Let’s face it, he has won our hearts. They’ve been bought with a price. We should keep them with diligence that we may see him purely for who he really is: enough.