So there I was… standing, panting, grasping at what just happened. It was as though everything was moving in slow motion. Like for that moment, ‘pause’ was pushed, and my world came to a standstill. I could feel the blood racing through my veins, my heart pounding as though it would burst out of my chest, and my skin was flush with annoyance, or should I say anger. Who am I kidding? I was livid.
“What a jerk!” As I tossed my phone aside, not wanting to see another condescending text come through, those words came out of my mouth with ease. There I was, alone in my office, engaged in a passionate conversation with a friend over text. (Because we all know how wise it is to have important conversations in two-sentence excerpts, with the odd emoji inserted to communicate tone!)
I had been fed one too many lines. The “good”, “Christian” (and fake) responses that were jamming up my texts had grown to such a staggering number that I was beyond annoyed. I was caught between wanting to help, and feeling hurt and abused by someone who I thought knew better. “Just be real with me! Sheesh.” I whispered under my breath. Another “appropriate”, “Christian” text popped on my screen.
“What a jerk!”
It wasn’t the words themselves that shook me, it was how sincerely I meant them.
As my world came to a frozen standstill, I found myself wondering what had gotten me so worked up.
“I’m only trying to help!”
“Why can’t she just be honest with me?”
“How many times will I be lied to, masked as “but the Lord told me…”?
None of my processing was about the issue, or the person involved – you know, the one that I, as a Pastor, and fellow Christ-follower, was to serve and love unconditionally. Instead, all of my responses were self-focused and how I was feeling. It was all about me.
“What a jerk!”
I’d like to say that this was a one-off; the type of response that was foreign and unfamiliar to me, that shook me because it seemed to erupt out of nowhere. I’d be lying. This type of self-centred, emotional response had become more and more regular for me. In fact, it was so frequent that it had become a part of me.
This was one of a handful of time-stood-still experiences that the Lord used to show me my heart.
The Bible says to “guard your heart above all else”. Really? Above all else? You mean, there’s nothing that should be higher on our priority list than guarding our hearts? What about loving people, helping the less fortunate, or prayer? Wouldn’t Jesus Himself serve people, spend time with the sick and hurting, or the outcasts of society? Surely those things are of greater value than guarding our hearts!
Not according to Scripture.
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Ah, I see. The heart determines… well, everything. What we say, what we do, essentially the people we become, all comes back to what is in our heart. How I responded in moments like this text conversation… flowed from my heart.
Thankfully the story doesn’t end there. Next week, I’ll share what transpired next, and the truth from Scripture that the Holy Spirit brought alive to me. It literally has changed me from the inside out.
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.