Last year we leapt from country to country on an unexpected, unpredictable, zig zaggy faith journey. While packing our ten Rubbermaid’s we had no idea the adventure ahead (and how many miles of airports, hallways, sidewalks, subways, trains, taxis and flights of stairs we would be hauling those 500 pounds of preparation!) It was amazing – and equally confusing and challenging. The plan had been to stay in one place the entire time (thus 10 Rubbermaids of everything we would need for a year living in the bush, including a thousand or so school books we would have perished without), but that changed. Despite my desperate begging for clearer, defined direction, God did not succumb to sky writing in order to guide us. There were times we were just given equally good options and left to choose one. He expected us to use our intellect, passions, abilities and agreement to make that choice. Another time He opened a couple doors to a long dormant dream in my heart, going back to east Africa. I can’t say it was a “calling”. He didn’t state He needed me there or persistently push me, He just knew it was my heart’s desire. It was a gift I was free to open or leave on the shelf.
The hardest part of this entire journey was all the decisions we had to make, often with little time and information, and the stress that brought because I have been taught to not trust my heart. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” has been misused and it was crippling me on this intimate level of relationship with God. At the most intense moment of decision-making torment I received the same word from three respected people in my life (they were thousands of miles away and had no idea what was going on) “Trust your heart”. I struggled with this “heresy” the first time I was advised and was downright shocked to hear it again in less than twenty four hours. Didn’t these admired, wise people of God know better than to suggest I step into such a dangerous pit? The third time I got on my knees and wrestled with God. He showed me the intense fear I harbored regarding my heart. I spent my entire life fighting it, often to my own demise. Logic, legalism and (unhealthy) loyalty were the shovels that fear had used to keep my heart buried deep enough to muffle it’s cries. Now I see the pattern of disappointment and loss as time after time I made decisions against my heart. I would beat myself up but stubbornly refused to see the obvious- that my heart IS trustworthy because it is submitted and belongs to Jesus. Yes, I must be careful of the flesh, but my heart has been made new. I am meant to live in consideration and respect of it. When I tentatively began to listen I found myself reveling in freedom- freedom to pursue, to initiate, to dream and run unhindered.
There are numerous religious dissertations dispensing detailed warnings of the danger of listening to our hearts. I think the long-winded arguments are often just a matter of semantics, heart vs. feelings vs. spirit, etc. (possibly self-righteous people trying to sound clever). According to the following scriptures, my heart can be pleasing to God and trusted.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:7
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways. Proverbs 23:26
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:21
These days you will find me soaking in the Sonshine with an intact heart, joyously running down the grassy hillsides (think Laura of Little House on the Prairie) five hundred pounds of luggage lighter, feeling the warmth of the Son on my face. It’s His delight in my delight.