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An Affair of the Heart

 “You found his heart faithful to you”  Nehemiah 9:8

The letters forming the words above, jumped off the page at me, as I read through the prayers of the Israelites in Nehemiah 9 for my study homework.  Even before I read what Kelly Minter had to say about it, I’d already underlined it in my bible because it was begging me to come back to it.  These seven little words gives us some serious insight into the nature of God.  Who He is.

You may or may not know that in the book of 1 Samuel, the Israelites has asked for a king.  God wasn’t too happy with this but as any good parent does, He lets consequences rule the day.  The first king, Saul, is going to have some serious issues and so God sends his man, Samuel to find the man He’s chosen for the task.  Samuel is looking at the big, handsome sons’ of Jesse and thinking to himself that surely these guys are king material.  Then God reminds Samuel that He is only interested in the heart, not the outward appearance.  Nehemiah 9:8 is proof of that.  God had looked at the heart of Abraham and found it faithful to Him.

We can pretend all we want that our hearts don’t matter, that it’s more about doing, looking and being but it wouldn’t be true. The state of our hearts matter.  When it comes to God, hearts are the main event.  Maybe we should be making it our main thing too.

I admit at times, I’m fairly careless with my heart.  What about you?  We don’t guard it like we should.  We leave it exposed to the enemy.  An easy target.  We let feelings take over rather than keep it true and faithful.  Sometimes we let it roam and wander to other gods that at the moment seem much more appealing.  I wonder what God sees when He looks at my heart? Is it sick?  Is it black?  Does it beat with life?

Kelly Minter points out in her study, that even though Abraham had a faithful heart it wasn’t perfect.  He still did some stupid stuff.  But even there among the stupidity and fear, Abraham’s heart was still faithful to God.

I think of David, the one God chose to be king, who was described as a man after God’s own heart.  David loved God.  He sought Him.  And David messed up.  Big time.  He let his heart wander.  The thing is that as God sifted through the muck in David’s heart, just like Abraham’s, there was something true there.  Faithfulness.  Love.  Devotion.  A connection that couldn’t be severed.  These things get lost as we get swept up in our busy lives, our chaos and crisis.  In the everyday mundane dance of life.

Why is it so important that we don’t let our hearts get lost?  Proverbs 4:23 tells us that it’s our hearts that determines the course of our lives. (Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. NLT)  Whatever our hearts love most, that’s what we seek.  That’s what we spend our lives on.  That’s what we treasure.  If our hearts love IT more than God, well that’s just not how He wired us.  He created us to love Him most.  We get out of sync when we don’t.  We do stupid stuff.  Like Abraham and David.  We waste time, lives, seeking pleasure, comfort and other worldly things that offer nothing in the end but emptiness, instead of seeking Him with our hearts and in the process fulfilling our destiny that He designed.  For. Each. Of. Us.

I used to think this was the most unexciting thing ever.  To love God with all my heart, soul, mind and spirit.  Honestly what could be more boring?  For me it was a one way street with me doing all the work.  And work it was.  Striving to be good all the time.  Working away at having a one way relationship with a God I was actually afraid of.  Who I thought didn’t see me. Except when I was bad.  Then He saw and there was going to be some singed bangs.  Of course it was work.  I didn’t have a clue about who God really was or what was in His Heart for me.

The exciting thing is it doesn’t have to be all work.  Ezekiel 36:26 NLT says: And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  God does the work here.  I don’t have to.  I find great hope in that.  I can try and try to change my stoney stubborn heart but it takes a divine hand.  That’s good news.  Again, Jeremiah 24:7 says: I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.  He will give us a heart to know Him.  All we have to do is ask.

Any relationship takes effort on our part.  We study those we love so we can know them.  I know more about superheroes than I want to.  Why?  Because my boys love them.  So I know them.  I know the difference between Marvel and DC.  Same goes with God.  He’s left the Bible as the main way to know Him.  It takes effort and some days it seems like work.  The rewards are eternal.  They are also here and now.  All we have to do is ask.  He’s waiting. For. You. For. Me.

We can do and strive all we want but if our hearts are cold our works mean nothing.  In the end, it’s not about what we do. What we look like.  How successful we are according to the world and people.  It’s about our hearts.  And when He looks at ours, may He find it faithful, full of devotion and love to and for Him.