Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Above all else...

It's a monday morning. My body is tired from too much running on the weekend. I pull myself from bed and trudge down the steps... calling out names and picking up laundry as I head down.
I pour myself a cup of coffee and wearily start fixing the lunches.
Children start arriving at the counter for some toast and cereal but not without some encouragement.
I quickly get my Bible and pick up where we left off on friday...
Soon I come to this verse and announce it as the verse of the day...
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Guard your heart above all else,for it determines the course of your life.

It reminds me of the movie..."Cheaper by the dozen". One of the take away lines for me in that movie was when the punk boyfriend of the older daughter is all stressed out that someone may touch his car. It's a Lebaron. As the children approach he yells, "HEY keep a perimeter around the lebaron".
It made me laugh when I saw it the first time and it makes me laugh today.

We had some discussion about what it means to Guard our heart...
The perimeter factor comes up.
The children are quick to point out that we should guard our heart from evil.
There are many evils that we should be guarding against...
Examples for them are violent games and movies. Language and dirty jokes. Lieing, cheating and stealing.
It's Very important for us to keep far away from things that sear our conscience and destroy our inner man.
But could it mean something beyond those obvious sinful choices?
Could this be talking about another griping vice that ties our hearts in knots?
Do we know what it means to be wise in the way we guard our hearts?

Do we confuse "guard you heart" with "harden your heart"?
It's easy to mix those two up.
For example, I have learned to guard against certain sins. I can flee them rather quickly. I'm on alert and a radar goes off in my head and heart...RUN! Run as fast as you can.
My walls go up and I guard myself against the enemy's trap.

However, God never asks us to harden ourselves to people.
We get hurt. And alarms start ringing in our heads...Ouch, Ouch run for cover. The walls are raised and the drawbridge closes.
We shut it tight. Peaking out only on occasion but never, never will we allow anyone to get that close again.
We call it guarding our hearts when actually we have taken the seed of hurt and carefully planted it causing a root of bitterness to begin to grow right there in our inner man.

And we wonder why the world seems so much dimmer inside these walls. We fear going back out while the vine grows tighter and tighter around our heart.
We reason that wisdom says stay aloof.
Don't involve yourself.
Don't be vulnerable again.

It's tricky.
And it's dangerous.

We change who we are. We see others with jaded eyes.
We become cynical and easily angered.
We doubt others sincerity and we question integrity.

It's bitterness.
And we plant it saying we are "guarding our hearts"... But instead it splits our hearts in two.
And we are left with broken hearts.
Fortunately for all of us there is a healer.
He binds up the broken hearted and sets the captive free.
We just need to ask him to come.
It may mean that we have some tearing out to do first. Those roots can run deep.

Guarding my heart from all kinds of traps including bitterness will determine the outcome of my life.
Not just for today but for eternity.

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