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Heart Listening

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Romans 8:26-27

I’ve had more game ending headaches this summer than collectively over the past ten years. I’ve had a couple of migraines in the past month which lasted about a week each, only one day actually having me bed-ridden, thankfully. On one level, it is kind of weird because summer has been beautifully restful compared to much of the year which preceded it. I haven’t felt that momma anger that so often overtakes me and results in impatient, biting remarks. I haven’t been as dominated by the need to micro-manage my environment, as seen in times when I am filled with agitation towards my family members who aren’t falling into line with the way I want things to be done. But the headaches, just like the times of anger and conflict, are like lights on a dashboard indicating something needs attention under the hood.

When I gave someone a quick update on the Gilbert household, I was suddenly able to see what I might otherwise have missed from the inside. We are waiting on the USCIS (citizenship and immigration) approval to receive our long awaited for referral of our specific baby from Uganda. We are waiting for some bank to accept or reject our short sale offer on a potential “new” home in Grove Park, which will determine where we will live come May or sooner. We were waiting to know if we’d be moving back to our former home, but found renters for that place. Terrell is launching an effort to get a charter school started in our Westside area that is broadly lacking quality educational options which would be accessible to all the neighbors. These are all fairly big impact life changes, all “right around the corner”, yet none with any reliable timeline at the moment. So, I guess the headaches make a little sense.

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Matt. 15:18-19

A fundamental belief of any Christian ought to be that “I am a person in need of change” and this is then followed by the faith that Jesus not only meets this need but effects the very change that He has shown me that I need. I am in great need of His redemptive work because of the widespread effects of sin in all the parts of my being. Unfortunately, most of the time, I don’t think I need to be changed all that much and am totally oblivious to the dashboard lights flashing and bells dinging for my attention. I’d rather silence the alarm than follow it’s invitation. And the reason? Well, it’s just too much for me – too vague, too subjective, too confusing, too complicated, too hard. Because I don’t really know Jesus, I don’t really know what my end product is supposed to look like. Because I don’t really believe Jesus, I assume I’m the one responsible for getting me there. Because I don’t really see Jesus, I have all my focus on the failings of others and my circumstances. Because I can’t distinguish His voice from all the rest, I don’t know what to do with whatever I might hear out of my own heart.

But what if I begin to slow down just enough to hear that my heart is sad, disappointed, scared, feeling abandoned, angry, resentful, jealous, faintly hopeful, cynical, or even just tired? What if once I hear my own heart’s needs, rather than demand that the church or my friends or my family or society do something or change something to meet my needs, I take them to Jesus? What if I then vulnerably expose what is most true in the engine room of my being, trusting Him to sort them out rather than trying to do it for Him? What if I then look to His person and work to address these needs – not by just giving me what I demand but by increasing my faith that He will accomplish all that He intends – for good and for the life-giving benefit of those outside of myself, not just my personal relief? What if in this way, I really start to know Him more and by knowing Him more, believe Him more?

“See if there is any offensive way in me”? How could there not be!? But sometimes His voice isn’t just telling me how offensive I am, but that I don’t believe He cares deeply for my needs. Sometimes my greatest offense is simply self-reliance, even in trying to handle my muddled and contradicting emotions. Having my heart searched isn’t to know myself more, but to know Jesus more – to know Him in the intimate places where He is really working in ways I never can independently. Until I hear what is truly happening in my heart, I can’t really grasp my own unbelief and have it replaced with the faith that He gives. I have both unbelief that I really need much redemption at all and unbelief that Jesus will in fact bring about that redemption from start to finish, which He will, with love and generosity of Spirit as I could never ask for or imagine. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Matt. 13:15-16

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