Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
Proverbs 27:19 As in water face reflects face, So a man's heart reveals the man.
"Nevertheless good things are found in you(Jehoshaphat) in that you have removed the wooden images from the land and have prepared your heart to seek God." (2 Chronicles 19:3)
This Scripture describes the ancient tension between God and man: Do we choose our own images which we control, or do we prepare our heart to seek Him, coming to terms with the nature of our relationship with God and how life is designed (by Him) to work? The Lord says: ‘Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever (Deut. 6:29). Much depends on the condition of our heart—where our affections are attached, and on what source of light we depend.
What does it mean to prepare our hearts to seek (to tread or frequent, to follow, to seek or ask, specifically to worship) the Lord? There are many references in Scripture to aspects of the preparation--uncovering our hearts, searching them, testing them, and purifying them.
"And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord with all your soul, that you may live. (Deut. 30:6)Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps. 139:23,24)
"And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." (Deut. 8:2)
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
Blessed are the pure (cleared and cleansed) in heart,
Why is all this searching and trying, clearing and cleansing needed? What is in our hearts before God works within to transform them and unite our whole heart with Him? What is there before the searching and exchanging are all the elements, both of sin and wounding in life, that keep us from being restored, that work to separate us from Him, that confuse our perception of Him, of ourselves and each other, and that make our relational lives difficult at best, destructive at worst. These are also some of the areas of outcome that are at stake in whether or not we prepare our hearts to seek the Lord.
This topic of preparing our hearts has an individual face, and it has a global face, in that it impacts the entire creation. Both levels are addressed in Romans 8.
"The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed" (Rom. 8:19, NIV).
"Revealed" means uncovered. The creation waits for the children of God to be uncovered. The Greek word for "revealed" is apokalupto (apo, from and kalupto, to cover). While there are vast outcomes to the children of God being revealed, I have noticed, with virtually everyone I have prayed with for more connection with the Lord, that uncovering precedes release. Which is only to say that over and over the Lord’s perspective proves to be accurate.
With what are the children of God covered? The covering is complicated, long-standing, and a bit of a mystery to us, else we would have removed it long ago. I realize that this Scripture in Romans speaks ultimately of end times and fulfillment of the word of God, but there is a progressive work of God in our lives now, which leads to that fulfillment.
The Scripture goes on to say:
"For the creation was subjected to frustration (futility), not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God" (Rom. 8:20,21, NIV).
That sounds like the Lord is the One who will not settle for covering, bondage, or the decay they produce. It is a good thing that someone won’t, and that He keeps track of the things we barely see! It also sounds like our way of doing things results in futility, and that it is the impact of futility that causes us to reconsider our ways. Hmm….
The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
From these Scriptures one nearly has to conclude that the condition of the creation depends on the condition of the children of God, and our condition depends on our heart relationship with Him. We are covered, for reasons that are very plausible for us; the Lord is pressing us to be uncovered, and one of His chief tools is the frustration and futility we experience in trying to get covered to work.
Well, do you like having your heart uncovered? I don’t either, but I have discovered something about the futility He speaks of in trying to get covered to work. I reckon I have given it as valiant an effort as anyone can. But the Lord proves to be right; it is futile to try to get a covered heart to produce a free and fruitful life.
In regard to this heart issue, I have discovered some things I consider quite alarming. They have been evident in my own journey, and they are equally evident in ministering healing and deeper connection with the Lord to others, which makes one wonder if they are indeed quite universal! I discover that most people are not very in touch with what is going on in their hearts, most do not know how to search their hearts, and do not know how to cooperate with the Lord in the search. Moreover, we do not have the kind of sight that picks up on when He is searching and exposing what is in our heart, whether we have invited Him to or not—usually circumstances and our response to them have a way of revealing what is inside. Far too many believers do not have the kind of connection with the Lord in which they could open the door to this searching and freeing, if they did make the choice to and had the courage to let Him be as thorough at it as He intends to be. But then the obvious question is: Where do we, or would we, learn how to search our hearts?
"Heart" in Scripture is defined as the center of our being, and includes three levels of being: Mind, emotion, and will—our intellectual/thought level, our feeling/affection level, and our choosing/acting level. All three levels are to be united and reconciled to the Lord in order to function in harmony. Some people have experienced uniting at the mind/intellect level—we know quite a bit about the Lord and agree with Him at that level. Fewer are united at the emotion/affection level—we have a lot of feelings that have not been examined or brought into agreement with the Lord. Whatever incompleteness exists at those two levels accounts for one of the greatest weaknesses of the church throughout history. Namely, its difficulty in producing a vast number of believers who act with God and can pay the price for doing so because their whole heart is committed to loving and following Him. Those who do find their way there are often viewed as fanatics. It is a convenient label for those who do not want to be challenged with that kind of allegiance to God—if we can find something "wrong" with a path, we certainly do not have to seriously consider taking it.
It is very difficult to get us all the way over into the realm the Lord exhorts us to enter with Him, requiring a mighty work of God in us to accomplish it. Many people do not want to go there. They may be interested in having more influence with God, and in Him helping them accomplish their purposes, but are not so interested in discovering His purposes and letting Him direct "their" lives in carrying them out. BUT the truth is that there are a large number of people (the Lord told Elijah He had 7000, when he thought he was the only one) who want Him and His heart more than they want what He can do for them.
They are willing, they want to connect with and know the Lord, to share His heart, and to live their lives in constant fellowship with Him. They will need to know all they can about preparing hearts—both so they can come fully into their own life in the Lord, and so they can be instrumental in bringing others.