Two days ago I was in agony. I thought it was pain of resisting God’s ways in anger and disappointment in Him. And it was…
At the same time, it was God pressing me into that Garden of – what word can one use – agony? I think Gethsemane is not just suffering; it is specifically a terrible work of effecting your own death. Bowing to the Father in opposition to your very existence, utterly rejecting your selfish-Self. “Take up your cross DAILY and follow Me.” It’s a deadly choice to cease.
As I cried out to my Lord to help me, He gave me the words of Austin-Sparks in “Spiritual Sight”:
“You and I will see the need for union with Christ in death
if our eyes are open to see the Lord.
“The Lord will work in us for His own glory and for future possibilities, by bringing us to the place where we feel deeply and terribly that the best thing for us is to die.”
I didn’t comprehend that I was seeing the Lord. I was aware only of my agony of heart and torment of soul. I could not make God do my will and perform His promise. The Light shining inside my heart was a terrible reality that I am helpless. Once again, that familiar Gethsemane-meeting with His God-ness rendered me without any strength to affect anything. I could not live in such a place of fighting Him for the throne. I had to die. Actually, I just embraced the FACT that I am already dead. I died with Christ.
It’s all so inexplicable. Why do you have to literally die when you are already actually dead? The process is not to come to die to self so much as to see that you are dead through knowing you must be dead. It’s just to agree with God’s total rejection of the old Adamic nature. It must die.
“Put off the old man…reckon yourself dead.”
I didn’t just have a temper fit, though I did. I died. Now two days later, I am here in the dark early morning, bubbling with joy in the rich presence of Christ’s love…without which I cannot live, will not live. Resurrection is real!
Living from Your Heart
I’m drinking Psalm 119 and marking every mention of heart with a red pen. How rich this psalmist’s interaction with God! Raw and wide are his requests. High and low, he ranges all heights and every depth. The love between the man and his God is flowing, and he is free to an amazing degree. Free to feel and need. Free to pray outlandishly. Willing to express all the stormy desperation of his heart and unashamed passion for God.
Verse 81: “My soul languishes for Your salvation.”
The whole Psalm is the testimony of a wide-open heart to the wide-open Lord of All, sovereign and beautiful! The writer’s honesty moves from agony to ecstasy, from complaint to decision, from reality to worship. His love is for the Person of God, so his passion for the will of God makes him a beggar.
“My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times” (verse 20).
Consequences of Denying Your Heart
I once sat with a friend in the hospital. He was there for heart problems. I said to him, “You refuse to live from your heart in naked honesty and so your heart is hurting (actually dying) from being denied and suppressed. Your heart was made to live, feel, soar and hurt. You won’t let your heart function as it was created. You will not start from that unmanageable heart. You choose to be religiously safe instead of spiritually abandoned. So your heart is damaged by your own rejection of your dangerous self. You are afraid of your own heart.”
(See my audio series, “The Heart of the Matter,” for more on living from the heart.)
If your heart belongs to God fully, in all its wild wandering, as John said in his post, then you are truly His. You only belong to God if you have given Him your entire heart – good, bad, shocking. To keep your heart doesn’t mean to suppress it, but to live in such heart transparency that you KNOW your real emotions, thoughts and beliefs. Then you can direct your heart to God and your choices turn the vast vessel of your inner man straight into the heart of God.
That’s David’s secret. He lived from his own crude heart. His writings prove it. He sought the heart of God because he was himself a man of heart. And despite his failings, this is how God proudly speaks of David, as the ‘man after God’s own heart.’ The man in pursuit of God’s heart – not blessings, prosperity, acclaim. Heart into heart.
This is the process of the Psalmist of 119. He is ‘keeping his heart with all diligence’ by coming fully under the Light that exposes him to himself, and such reality propels him to fierce and holy prayer! Because the writer is in stark honesty, and ‘speaks and thinks the truth in his heart,’ ‘he dwells [permanently] on Your holy hill’ (Psalm 15 AMP). He enjoys a true love affair with God, relishing God’s love and enjoying it. His cleanness of heart finds a genuine union with God.
I love the prayer at end of John’s post. It gives a practical help to what might seem to some just an emotional fit. I want to repeat it here:
“Father, I am filled with ______, and I offer it to You in worship. My ______ holds claim on my heart, now I give it to You as something I have treasured. ______ held captive my heart, and prevented my heart being wholly Yours. Now I give You my ______, and the trust it held in my heart that You may dwell in and fellowship with me there. My heart is Yours!”