“Keep your heart with all diligence;
for out of it are the issues of life.”Proverbs 4:23
I don’t know how many years ago it was, I don’t know the date or the time, all I know is that my heart was broken. I was weary, I was aching from the hurt and in that moment, sitting in my living room, my Bible open on my lap, I determined that I would seek God with everything I had. I determined, without realizing it, that I would keep my heart.
I decided that I would use all the natural principles of falling in love with a man to fall in love with God. Thinking of Him and all His attributes during my day. Noticing His acts of kindness and love towards me with utter delight. Listening to Him through His Word and being attentive. Speaking to Him whenever I could, openly, with no lies or subterfuge.
On the flip side, I decided to take active steps to avoid distractions of my daily life. I would walk away from conversations and activities that caused my heart to drift. I would stop all trains of thought that would lead to spiritual adultery of my heart and mind.
What followed was the most rewarding period of time in my Christian life. My heart had been wounded and here I found utter safety and a return of my love. It was difficult, yes, but deciding to love Him became like breathing. I know He was keeping me through it, I can claim no glory for it. It was fresh and lovely, like a sunny day or like looking into the depths of a beautiful flower. New shades of it always gladdened my eye and my soul.
He took me to far-off places and used me in exciting ways. I was learning, I was growing, and it became deeper and deeper. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was yesterday. For it certainly is not today.
“Keep... with all diligence...”
Somewhere along the way I stopped keeping my heart to Him. I don’t know the exact moment, I am sure it was gradual, a slow drift. But my heart is currently running like mad after exactly what pleases it most.
I was driving home tonight and the verse came to my mind as I struggled internally. All the issues of my life are in disarray. My heart is the source of these issues. What is coming out of me indicates a lack of discipline in regards to keeping my heart.
It is a continuous thing, this keeping of myself and my heart. It is a practical thing. It might look like resisting the urge to text that guy in that familiar way that always leads to a major shift in my focus and possibly sin. It looks like resisting the urge to fall down the rabbit-hole on Instagram, looking at other people’s lives or physical beauty with envy. It looks like keeping my mind from drifting into imaginations and scenarios that are simply not true and pull my heartstrings.
Keeping my heart is the same as it was all those years ago. I do believe we level up. Much like an earthly relationship, the fresh and new sensations fade and it becomes just plain hard work. But the reward is the same.
The reward of peace. You don’t know what it truly means until you lose it and your life's a riot of frustration and anxiety.
Joy. That deep, unshakeable sensation that is an awful lot like confidence. He is yours and you are His. No matter what comes.
Love. That choice to choose Him. Sometimes it blooms in your chest like a flower, curling and spreading warmth, other times it is without sensation. No instant reward. Just choosing Him over whatever temptation comes your way.
I don’t want to. The tantalizing thought of instant gratification in another person, movie, videogame, food, online purchase, wardrobe choice, etc. swells in me instead. If I do choose Him, sometimes there is no sensation of victory or love. The sensation cannot be the reward, otherwise my love is misplaced. My love is founded in that sensation, not Him.
Keep my heart. Keep it with diligence. Diligence here is also translated elsewhere as prison. Not a nice picture. Keep my heart prisoner like I would a wandering child. A child without understanding but with all the feelings and passions raging. And rage it will against the bars of the prison I erect for myself.
My heart is fully convinced that indulging in sensations and feelings that are not meant for me will satisfy. It never does. My heart is convinced that a pair of shoes or earrings or that sweater will bring lasting joy. It never does. My heart thinks that speaking my mind or gossip, anger or other slips of my tongue will make me feel better or prove me right. Yet, all my indulgences lead to utter regret and my own capricious heart being wounded.
I felt like slamming on the brakes and writing it all down before it left me. Yet how could I easily forget this lesson? The only safe place there is in this world for my foolish heart is with God. Not just for today, letting it turn into yesterdays, but with diligence. He will keep it safe, if I keep it with Him.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love,
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Eliza was raised in a family of nine in the farmlands of Pennsylvania and later on the backwoods of Tennessee. Never a very good spectator, she prefers to be in the middle of things, whether that be at home or abroad. She enjoys telling a good yarn and loves using her capers to convey the goodness of God.