Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Overcoming the Fickle Heart



I usually read the above verse and think of all the ways I need to protect my heart from the world. I need to be mindful of the shows I watch, the books I read, the music I put on in the car. I need to be careful of the people I choose to have in my life and the places where I spend my time.

These are all obviously good things to be aware of, please don't misunderstand me. Being conscious of the things you're taking in is hugely important. It would be naive of me to believe otherwise. But lately as the world churns with chaos and unrest and my heart responds in kind, I've been left wondering if my heart needs just as much protection from itself as it does from outside sources.

My heart, on its own, is fickle. It will wander, it will leave. It will harden when slighted, and quickly write off those who disagree with it even though it's called to forgive, forgive, forgive. It will seek its own praise and affirmation, rather than being the one to praise and affirm. It will choose pride over humility; selfishness over sacrifice. It will retreat inward at the first sign of pain and difficulty rather than seeing an opportunity to reach out.

And have there ever been more opportunities to reach out than now? Every day, it seems, there arises a new injustice, a new heartbreak, a new situation rife with spiritual, emotional, physical violations. Every day my heart is given the chance to step out and step forward in love. And every day it rages against its instinct to turn away from those I don't understand or agree with; those whom I have been called to love as I love myself. A fight that is not always so easily won.

My favorite hymn speaks to this knowledge, this truth of my wayward heart. If left to my own devices my heart will turn from its Creator and from others; it will turn on itself.

Let that grace now, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love 
Here's my heart, O take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
(From Come Thou Fount, Robert Robinson 1757)

Guard my heart from myself, Lord. Guard it from irritation and judgement and self righteousness. Guard it from the lies I'll believe and the prejudices that seep through the cracks. Keep it humble and not pompous, full of love instead of the easy, lazy road of hate. Protect my heart, God, from indifference. Instead keep it soft with empathy and compassion, bound tightly to Yours. 

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