Guarding my Heart
Two years ago, I thought I'd lost everything. I was forced to leave a job and ministry that I was passionate about. What was God doing? Why did He call me to work for Him, then call me out of it? I grieved deeply for a few months, but as it often happens, my season of loss turned out into one of infinite riches. As I’ve rebuilt my life afterwards, I have been aware of God’s gentle nudge to grow deep strong roots into my inward spirit.
And so … the direction of my life has been changing.
From one of intense activity to that of seeking God more.
From one of busyness to that of contemplation and purpose.
From one of being ultra connected to that of being rooted in God.
It hasn’t been easy – this swim against the tide. And yet, I know that the main thing is to keep the main thing as the main thing. I've had to stop jogging through a rose garden and to turn my footsteps instead towards a wilderness. The rose garden beckoned because its flowers were colourful and fragrant, with velvet petals and bright new hues. But the roses would wilt in summer heat, while the cactus flowers would bloom for eternity.
The modern world with its umpteen connections and busy lifestyle continues to beckon me. I have to often say ‘No’ to many good things in search of what God requires of me. Saying ‘No’ to others is never easy. I don’t want to seem aloof and unfriendly. I want to be liked and appreciated. So there’s often been a tussle inside.
Is it OK to say ‘no’ to her Lord?
Was it wrong of me to guard my time with you, Jesus?
Is it selfish of me not to do as he asked, Father?
A few weeks ago, God answered my heart’s questions in a surprising way. A church member was giving away many of his books for free, so guess who piled her arms after church one day with a stack of Christian books? One of them was Gordon MacDonald’s book ‘Ordering your Private World’. It was like finding a nugget of gold in my backyard.
I’m presently reading it a second time and studying it during my Quiet time. I've lapped up his words eagerly like a thirsty puppy. It’s as if the author had heard of my struggle and had run swiftly to my aid. I now know that when I choose to say ‘No’ to many important pursuits that are ‘the done things’ in today’s world, I am guarding my heart and my inner world. The guilt I’d sometimes indulge in is not needed. No—I hadn’t been selfish. God was actually pleased with me. Choosing to guard my heart and time and space was a good thing and one He applauded.
I think of Jesus’ gentle rebuke to Martha as she complained to Him in Luke 10 verse 42. “Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” In our 21st century world today it’s very easy to be swamped by many demands on our time, and we often bustle around like Martha accomplishing a host of good things. The problem is that we are called to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, but we are often in pursuit of being conformed to the ways of the world.
The pressure’s in doing rather than being,
in success not in becoming.
Is God calling you to furnish your centre with the solid core of His Presence? Perhaps this present season’s the one to begin deeper growth of your spirit? Perhaps now’s the time to make a change that will have eternal consequences. Perhaps today’s the day to say ‘No’ to something good to make room for something better.
“Above all, guard your heart for it is the well spring of life.” Proverbs 4:23