Where Heart And Head Collide

In the beginning of a new year, I can have a tendency to over-analyze life. Admittedly, it’s self-imposed, but I think we all do this to some degree around December and January. Sometimes I think we put too much pressure on ourselves at the new year…pressure under which we inevitably succumb to failure and defeat. Resolutions. New goals. Trying to be better at life. What’s the point when we know within a few weeks or months we’ll fall off the wagon and be right back where we started?
Kind of a bummer to mention it, but it’s true isn’t it? We have a track record of not staying on course. Even at our best, we know our good intentions will only get us so far.
As much as we hate to admit it, we bring these good intentions over into our Christian lives and tell God things like this: I’ll pray more this year God. I’ll read the Bible more. I’m going to volunteer more at my church. I’m going to be better at tithing this year. I don’t think these are bad things and I don’t think we lack sincerity when we say we’ll do them…even if we succeed, that’s great! But what I keep coming back to is this: while God is after our heart, we seem to be after the things we think will please God. We seem to think works are what He wants from us and what will somehow gain His favor. But the Bible is clear that all our works are meaningless: All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6
Even to succeed with our best intentions, even to do more, reach higher, and go beyond, we still come up short because none of it is impressive. None of it replaces being caught up in love and relationship with our Creator.
So what do we do about all of this? I truly believe God has a relationship He intends to have with us that we barely scratch the surface in experiencing. I’m talking about the kind of proximity to God that great men and women of faith in the Bible had; a faith that I believe is available to us. Elijah was referenced in the Book of James as just a man with a nature like ours (James 5:17) but he had a relationship so close with God that he could ask the inconceivable: he asked God to shut the heavens from rain and God did. Moses experienced a closeness so real that he boldly asked to see God’s glory, to which God responded "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence.” Exodus 33:19. In the New Testament, the woman with an issue of bleeding simply stated "If I just touch his [Jesus’] clothes, I will be healed." Mark 5:28 Remarkable faith. Radical faith. Something beyond the level of which we strive after at this time of year.
I believe what makes these stories different than ours is that in earnest, these individuals pursued God in a way in which they could not be dissuaded. They boldly asked and they boldly received and they lived with a faith that could shake mountains. If they had relied on best intentions and working their way up the ladder, they would have never gotten there. But instead they lived in obedience to God and realized that if they were after His heart, He would withhold nothing from them.
To me the issue comes down to head knowledge vs. heart knowledge. We all know the right things to say and do if we are Christians. We know the right way to act in terms of the setting we are in. But we often don’t let the truth of what we know deeply influence our lives at a heart level. We say we want relationship and closeness with the Lord but yet we just check-mark the box every day to assure ourselves that we spent time with Him. Friends, He doesn’t just want 10-15 minutes of our day. He wants all of us. Every moment and every second.
I don’t have all the answers to how this unpacks for me today. And I’m guessing you’re starting to ask how it unpacks for you as well. I strongly believe and hold to the idea that the faith we live in our fast-food, Americanized culture is a shallow reflection of the true faith we should and can have. When I read the accounts from Scripture and see what God does through humble servants, I get excited. When I look around and see how much I fall short, my initial reaction is that I must “do more”. But doing more doesn’t move mountains. Spending time with my Savior, getting to hear His heart, living as if He is truly right alongside me…those things are what lead me to my true identity and calling. From there, He can shake the Earth through me.

Wrapping up, I’d encourage you this week to go back and read over the accounts of some of the passages I mentioned and even others that give you a glimpse into what true faith and relationship looks like. There might even be men and women around you who can serve as mentors and examples in this area. Whatever it takes, don’t settle for just doing things how they’ve always been…push past the complacency and drudgery you’ve settled for in the past. And let’s hold each other accountable; how are you doing and how can I pray for you today?

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