Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Relax Your Heart

Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

It’s impossible to truly love God and not show that love to your neighbor, your brothers and sisters in Christ and most importantly, your family. For, if we love our God with all our heart, we love everything He loves with all our heart. There is no going through the motions on this one, it’s clear cut, black and white. For those who fail at this, or worse – try to deceive with the appearance of a loving heart – a broken life in this world awaits them and far worse in the next…

There once was a young boy who craved his father’s love, as every young boys does, for this is how God made us. But all the old man had to share with his son was intoxicated anger overflowing from a calloused, clenched heart. Since the boy knew no other way and depended on his earthly father to show him how to live, he learned that love was spoken on alcohol-laden breath and then handed over with an iron fist.

Try as he might, the young boy couldn’t reconcile why his father’s “love” didn’t feel right and as he grew to adulthood, this in turn made him angry and drove him to drink. The boy, now living in a man’s body, married a troubled young woman and together they started their own family, where this sour brand of love was distilled further until the new family shattered under the pressure of living so far outside of God’s design.

The man-boy left his new family, angry and ashamed, blaming the world, his wife, his father and himself for everything he had never had and the damaged state of what little he did possess. Years later, he sought the help of God and dedicated his mind to the Word.

But all the pressure, the anger, the intoxication, the rage, compressed his heart into a lump of coal, hard, dark and loveless. He studied the scriptures emphatically, diligently seeking to memorize every passage, every word. And soon, he was a changed man. At least on the outside; just as coal can reflect external images, yet never truly escape its own internal darkness.

Somehow, the Word never moved the final foot, from head to heart. For as God’s love permeated the thoughts, with parables, illustrations and anecdotal evidence, it failed to ring true in the life of the man-boy. His earthly father was incapable of showing him what love was, which left him incapable of showing his own sons and so, he retreated into a shell, Godly on the outside, lost on the inside. He amazed many with his biblical knowledge, yet confounded those closest to him with his inability to “practice what he preached”.

It seems, true life change requires far more than scholarly study or Godly appearances.

Jesus tells us the most important commandments are to love our God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Yet, some can’t seem to do this because they’re heart is clenched so tight, made so hard from the pressure of life, they simply don’t know how. Instead, they go through the motions, trying to keep up the façade of respectability, fearful that if anyone might see the truth, they’ll lose what little semblance of control they believe they have. So, they carry on living a lie, hoping beyond hope that everyone around them really is too stupid to see the truth. And the enemy smiles knowing he is capturing one more soul…

The word “love” is used over 550 times in the bible. In fact, if you removed any inference to it, any concepts built on it and any lessons learned with it, the book would be empty. The entirety of Christ’s teachings would collapse.

What do you think happens to a human heart when you remove love?

Just as a stone can’t absorb life giving water, a hard heart cannot truly absorb love. Sure, it can get wet on the outside and mimic a loving life superficially, possibly deceiving many for short periods of time, but the truth always comes out for God cannot be denied and He is the God of truth.

My heart was hard for a long time, clenched tightly as if I could protect the tiny flicker of love’s flame I kept burning inside, like a man lost in a cave, with only match to light his way. But when I relaxed my heart and opened it up to God, He used that match to ignite an inferno, shining his warm love all over me and those I encounter. Even knowing that, I still have far to go before I’m living as He intended. How about you?

If you aren’t experiencing love in every aspect of your life, pray that God would show you where you’re going wrong. Rest assured it has nothing to do with the actions of others, for this is between you and God and no other. Pray he’ll show you how to unclench. Pray he’ll help you tear down the walls and learn to relax your heart. For only a soft heart can truly love, and without love, we’ll never see heaven.

Most importantly, when you pray for these things, relax your heart so that you might truly receive God’s greatest gift. Even those of us who think we know what love is, should pray these prayers and do so with an emphatic desire to learn from God’s answer.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

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