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.
A Prepared Heart
In 1977, at the age of 34, I returned to the Lord*. In 1978 I was still working at the Palo Alto Research Center of Xerox Corporation. I had been feeling out of my element there, as a call to ministry was forming in me. I had no clue what that would be, but this particular day, October 24, 1978, I went to lunch in the park in order to walk and pray about those heart stirrings. I was asking the Lord: "What do you want me to do?" I walked and prayed, the more earnestly as I went along, feeling that I had to have some idea, as there was a decided transition going on in my life and I needed to know how to proceed in it. But I did not hear anything and drove back toward the office rather disappointed. On the way back I saw from the freeway the "Chapel in the Hills," which had been a schoolhouse before being converted into a church**. Going to and from work I had been noticing the cross on top, visible from the expressway. When I saw it ahead, I felt very prompted to drive up there, though I had never thought of checking it out before. I had lingered at lunch, trying to hear something and so was already late in returning. I was talking myself out of the prompting on practical grounds, but when I got to the exit, I just turned off. Once I did I felt peaceful. I would just go see what the Lord would do or say.
There were no cars in the parking lot. It looked bare and deserted. There were three doors. I tried all three and knocked on the one that looked like it might be an office, but they were all locked. I was puzzled, the prompting had been so strong and clear. I went back to my car and drove away, in a very thoughtful state. I was concerned that I was making things up for the Lord, which was very unnerving, and was about to chalk it up to me being "out there," as more than one of my friends and family had suggested. Before I did that, however, I asked: "Lord, what was that all about?" What I heard has changed my life beyond my ability to describe. The Lord said:
The Church of My Spirit is deserted and locked.
When I heard that, it hit with an indescribable power and hushed everything inside me. But it was not long before a flood of emotion followed. It scared me to be hearing something like thatófar too huge for me!. I became extremely agitated, and afraid to say anything, or even think a response. The only sense I had was: "Why are You telling me; what can I do about it?" I didnít say that; but it was a powerful "truth" for me. I hoped that staying silent would make the upheaval in my heart go away. Instead, it increased because the same words were repeated several times, seemingly louder and more insistent each time: THE CHURCH OF MY SPIRIT IS DESERTED AND LOCKED! Finally, realizing it was not going to stop, and quite undone by the pressing of God, I said: "I know it, Lord!"
Actually, I "knew" very little. When I came back to the Lord, I was hearing many things from Him, and I walked and talked with Him for months, writing down the things I heard in my journal. When I began attending a church several months later, I gradually discovered that there was great controversy in the church about whether the Lord talks to us. I found that puzzling, as I had spent months in the Scriptures, and they reported Him talking to His children regularly. On the strength of that experience alone, I said: "I know it, Lord."
When I said that, the agitation ceased. It was replaced by as deep a sense of peace as there had been upheaval. He said, this time very gently:
It is difficult to describe what that one word imparted to me. It was a question as to whether I would care about the condition He cared about, whether I would join Him in addressing it, whether I would share His heart and priorities. I drove back to work astounded and shaken, having no idea that the Lord had answered the question I asked Him in the park: "What do You want me to do?" I also had no clue how long it would take me to hear through what He said and understand what it meant.
When the Lord took me up to that Chapel and spoke those things to me, His word bumped into all the obstacles in my own heart that Section I will describe. They are the same obstacles that hinder the growth and development of the Church of His Spirit. The obstacles cause it to be less populated than the Lord intends, and they contribute to locking the doors that lead there.
The Church of His Spirit, the army of God, and the kingdom of priests the Lord says He will have. They are all related organisms, and they all depend on the healing, equipping and empowering work of God in our lives. I refer to this as A Prepared Heart. What He said to me that October day in 1978 launched a very extensive process of development, which I will describe in the pages that follow.
Because the focus and purpose of this book is to let the Lord prepare our hearts, the best way to read it is to go through it asking: "Lord, how does this apply to me?" Then pause, allowing time for His response to make its way through to your heart.
* Those years are described in an earlier book, A Heartís Returning.
** Several years prior to this event I had lived just down the street from the schoolhouse.