My life has been pretty different the last few months. Not only in a way that means I’m smiling a ton; but in a way that I am blissfully content and happy. (Is it getting annoying about me posting about this so much? I’m sorry, if so! That’s the most irritating thing about happiness I guess; people feel forced to share it : ). ) This morning inclement weather cancelled our church service and delayed me going back to Winston-Salem. So for the first Sunday in a while I didn’t go to church. I was pretty sad about it.
It’s funny when you’re living life as an unengaged Christian, that might not seem like a big deal. You’re satisfied with the mundane or with the…worldly day. But when you are connected, it’s a total loss to miss church. I’m so hungry for time in worship, more scripture, praise, sermon and devotion. It’s like you can’t get enough. All you care about. So, I turned to a Mark Driscoll sermon “Proverbs: The Heart” to pick up my day and was totally blessed.
Somehow God knows how to land you where your head is at on any given day. Here I was thinking about how my desires, motivations and investment of time has re-balanced in the last few months (I’m back on the schedule and track that I used to be when I was, once in the past, this happy). And it’s like God has totally just swept through my life and lifted everything to this more acutely wonderful place. My sensitivity to blessing is higher and my sensitivity to my actions; my sensitivity to my thoughts and my sensitivity to my desires.
And here, God leads me to a sermon in which Driscoll is talking about how everything in your life, actions, words, follow-through can be traced to the question “where is your heart at?”
When your heart is in a better place, everything else is going to see the effect.
I can assert that in the last few months by being more re-focused on my devotions I’m cursing less, I’m focusing on the negative far less, I’m hopeful, I’m looking for ways to watch over others, I’m more giving, I’m more invested in the moment, I read my Bible pretty much every day. I could go on. But these aren’t things I’ve consciously tried to change. It’s just….happening.
And as I listened to this sermon, I was slowly connecting the dots of all of the ways that God has truly and overwhelmingly restored me. I used to think that the verse below was a one-time exchange:
”I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26
But I can say, for sure, that it’s not reserved as a single time. Over and over I feel like God has given me a new heart when I needed it. And this past summer was definitely an again. So, what is a “new heart?” Or how could you know if you have one.
The sermon, which you should definitely check out, shares Driscoll’s “14 Marks of a New Heart, as found in Proverbs.”
The new heart:
Has faith. — Proverbs 3:5
Desires obedience. — Proverbs 4:4
Is corrective. — Proverbs 5:12
Is teachable. — Proverbs 10:8
Has contentment. — Proverbs 14:30
Loves wisdom. — Proverbs 15:14
Is cheerful. — Proverbs 15:15
Is helpful. — Proverbs 15:28
Is discerning. — Proverbs 16:21
Is persuasive. — Proverbs 16:23
Is humble. — Proverbs 18:12
Is intelligent. — Proverbs 18:15
Is beautiful and reflected in the face. — Proverbs 27:15
Is repentive. — Proverbs 28:14
Every single day I’m trying to do better with all of the above; but I can say that there is a genuine care in my heart to focus on these things. I can vouch for cheerful and repentive : ) but really in one way or another I know I’m being challenged to improve on all of the above. But the new heart? It has the motivation and investment to pursue all of these things. I can feel God placing all kinds of new desires on my heart that are more directed to him.
And it feels GOOD.
Driscoll notes that when you have a new heart you’re more acutely tuned into the deep desires placed on your heart by God. The deep desires are the ones that help calibrate your desires with God’s desires for your life. Your will and God’s will become closer in sync. The picture becomes more clear. The distractions are softer. What you want to do is what God wants you to do. What God wants you to do is what you want to do.
As someone who has experienced this at least twice now; it’s becoming more evident to me what my deep desires are because they’re the ones that have been the same during both periods. The deeper they are, the more personal they become. In your heart they’re so strong that when you think about them your chest gets a little tighter and maybe you can’t help but smile.
Well, at least that’s how I feel and maybe that’s how God and I connect. Maybe he connects your deep desires in a different way; but you have the same confidence that they’re high callings over your life.
In a gesture of everything being actually on the line, I’ll share that as I was listening to this sermon and Driscoll mentions that your deep desires are likely fairly evident I quickly typed out the ones I felt strongest on my heart. Some might not be ones you would immediately guess if you know me personally; but like I said–they’re deep, so they’re personal:
1) Having a family.
3) Serving God.
4) Writing a book.
How awesome is it that God put those desires on my heart for reason? The missions one in particular is interesting. I’ve had some really intimate moments with Christ where I know at some point, I’m going to be called to go or do or explore or share or serve in a way that takes me out of my comfort zone. Maybe out of my home? I don’t know. But it’s been clearly laid on my heart almost five years ago. I just don’t know God’s timing.
But all of those things? I’m going to fulfill in an even better way by focusing on getting my heart into the best place and reflecting on the Proverbs.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23
So, if you feel like you’ve cashed in your “renewal.” I offer you this encouragement: Stop. If you invest yourself into finding the peace, contentment and joy in Jesus Christ he is going to meet you more than half way–whether it’s the first time you’ve found yourself on your knees or the tenth.
I leave you with the same questions that Driscoll asked (again, seriously, check out the sermon here):
- Do you have a new heart? How do you know?
- What is God showing you about your heart lately?
- What can you do to nourish your new heart?
- What desires are even deeper than your desires for sin?
Just like the C.S. Lewis quote; God has a far more amazing vision for our life than we could ever imagine and if we’re not in tune with the deep desires that he’s placing on us, if we’re not putting our heart as closely to Him as possible; we could be missing out on the most beautiful thing of all.
A new heart is a pretty amazing thing–but it’s just the beginning.