24 August 2007

Guard Your Heart

So if you’ve been a single girl for any amount of time, likely someone has encouraged you to “guard your heart.” Sounds biblical right, sounds wise, doesn’t it? Well, it is biblical and therefore determining the wisdom factor as well.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)

23Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)

23Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

But the question that I’ve been asking myself is this, so what? What does this mean? How am I supposed to do that? And what exactly am I guarding my heart from? So a few days ago when I was thinking and journaling and praying about this I asked God to help me figure this out through His Word. And of all places, God started my journey in Nehemiah.

The following is pretty much word for word out of my journal and since it was so revolutionary to my previous way of thinking, I thought I would be open to share it. I’ve tried to fill in places where the stuff that was going on in my brain didn’t make it to paper. Here goes...deep breath...

Reading along, I came to this part where Nehemiah addresses his enemies trying to discourage them from doing what God has asked them to do, to rebuild the wall.

Neh. 2:20 So I answered them and said to them, "The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem." Hmmm, interesting...guess this means that my enemy, the enemy of my soul, has no portion, right, or memorial in my life. Places where I’ve failed or been defeated are over. Those “memorials” I have to those times don’t have a claim on me. The enemy has no right to bring up stuff from past to discourage me – he doesn’t own me, Jesus does.

Neh. 4:9 “But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.” I need to be guarded against the enemy! Not guarded against relationship or my own feelings necessarily, but against the real adversary. Nobody in their right mind sets up a guard against something good. Protect my heart from what? From risk, from hurt, from love? That’s not biblical. Who in scripture protected himself from hurt? Rebekah? No. Ruth? No. Rahab? No. Esther? No. Nehemiah. No. Abraham? Only in his disobedience when he lied about Sarah being his sister to protect himself – he chose fear, not faith. And when he offered Isaac on the altar in obedience, definitely not protecting his heart from hurt. Joseph? He was guarded against adultery – he was kind to his brothers even after they had betrayed him. Jacob? Protected himself and stole the blessing by deceiving his father and disobeying God. But, years later Jacob did not guard himself when he saw Esau. Instead he was gracious. Joshua? Not guarded, but courageous. Daniel? Not guarded – only guarded against sin – he trusted God and went into the fiery furnace and into the lions den. God is protector, not man or self. Hosea? Are you kidding me – he married a prostitute – definitely did NOT protect his heart, but was obedient to the Lord. Peter, John, Jesus? Jesus did not protect His heart. He sacrificed it. The soldiers pierced it. He died. He suffered. By choice. For God’s eternal glory and for our good.

So, am I supposed to protect my heart for my benefit? For my fear of pain? Protect my heart from being vulnerable and therefore from the possibility of being hurt? I don’t think so. Guard my heart against sin? YES. Guard my heart against the attack and lies of the enemy? YES. Guard my heart against pride, envy, self-preservation, self-exaltation, fear, greed, materialism, against wimpy and shallow Christianity? YES. YES. YES. Guard my heart against my thoughts and emotions getting carried away and not living in the reality of the moment? Definitely YES. Guarding my heart against giving in to the fear of rejection? YES. Guard against risk? NO. Guard against hope? NO. Guard against caring? NO. Guard against guys? NO.

Proverbs 4:20-24 (NASB)

20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them
And health to all their body.
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.

These verses are talking about what you put in your heart. Not necessarily excluding, but definitely not referring to guy/girl relationships. But still, do I need to guard against accepting Satan’s lies? YES. Against emotional fantasy? YES. Against pain? No, not this girl. My heart is not wimpy. Actually my heart’s been through several fiery furnaces and God ALWAYS REDEEMS. I don’t want my heart to be wimpy. I don’t want my heart to be hard. Soft, yes, but wimpy, no. I don’t want to be afraid. Why fear anything but the Almighty? That is wisdom – fearing God. Matthew 10:28 "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Guard my heart from getting attached to people? No. How am I supposed to be a blessing to portray the beauty and image of God, to love and care and pray for people without getting attached? Without my heart getting involved? Am I supposed to offer my whole heart to any friend, to any guy, all at once? No, I don’t think so. But is it my job to protect myself at the cost of loss of real relationship in the body of Christ? NO. God is my fortress. My defender. My help. My shield. God is my protector. Do I think we as people need to protect each other? Yes. Should men seek to protect and guard the hearts of women? Yes, I think that’s what God created them to do.

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(So, after typing this I realize, it’s totally all over the map ended kind of randomly, but what can I say, I was getting sleepy when I was journaling. I think I turned my light off and on several times because I would try to go to sleep and then I would think of something else that I didn’t want to forget! So I apologize if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else, but there you have it, that’s me trying to figure out this whole thing of being guarded against certain things, but not too guarded against other things. I’d love to know what you think.)

17 August 2007

Blog Boredom

Okay, so this has possibly been one of the longest days of my life. And it's not even 4:00 yet. Ah geez. So, it's Friday and I'm in the office by myself today, all by my little self. Do you feel sorry for me? You should, I'm pretty lame. Actually, once upon a time I was used to this kind of day and enjoyed the solitude of Fridays. They are so incredibly productive it's amazing. And yet, well, it's been a wild and crazy summer and I guess since the middle of May I haven't seen a full Friday of alone time in the cubicle. But alas, all my regular youth compadres are off today and my beloved interns, Jacob and Tim, have left me. Woe is me. Yeah, so maybe I'm being a bit melodramatic. It hasn't been a bad day at all, and actually I've been enjoying most of the peace and quiet. Yeah, so what was I saying? I can't even pay attention to myself...not quite sure how you will endure reading this. I'll offer prizes to you who make it through this. But I digress again, I was saying that it's been a good day and all, I even had a jalapeno pretzel with cream cheese for lunch and have been uber productive today. But still, this day is lasting FORFREAKINEVER! Even since I've been writing this post, I've only managed to waste about 4 very long minutes. Isn't there something more entertaining than listening to me whine....

EUREKA! How bout I dig up some favorite pics from the summer. I know you're salivating with anticipation.
My senior girls....ah, let me wipe a tear...they're all grown up now and heading off to college!The tribe of Dan at camp - what a beautiful week!

My mom and I and a few amazing and godly friends we got to visit before the family reunion...

My mom and nephew playing at reunion - definitely two peas in a pod.

Here's me being a total dork in the lake at the state park in TN.

Ah shucks, nothing says summer memories like the youth staff - Jerome, moi, Charis - AKA "Cherish the Intern", WilliMac, Buck Wild Tim, and Jake, the little ball of hate.
Okay, okay, so he's not really that mean-spirited and just for the record, Charis isn't an intern, she's here to STAY, thank goodness!