What to do With a Helpless Heart?

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Feelings: I love him! I know I do. There’s times when I look up and he’s smiling at me I feel the world move. He is sweet, and kind…

Conscience: Whoa! Okay, you need to put on the brakes. Think of your purity. Take every thought captive, remember?

Feelings: Yes! But I can’t help it! I go to bed and I lay there and he comes to mind. I pray, and he comes to mind. I wake up, and he comes to mind. I sing, talk, watch movies, work….and he comes to mind.

Conscience: Okay, take a deep breath, you can get through this. Focus on other stuff, something worth doing. Run after Jesus, and someday the right man will come knocking at your heart’s door.

Feelings: But what do I do with myself? When we’re together I want to enjoy him. I enjoy his friendship. What about the times I get butterflies?

What to do when you find yourself attracted to someone? There is a constant war between the rational conscientious side of you, and the powerful emotional side. What if that someone isn’t just a nice guy you happened to feel a twinge of attraction for. What about the godly young man you’d actually consider marrying?

I just wanted to encourage you, that you can remain pure, while still having those feelings and appreciating the godly young man. Someday God will equip this young man with a helpmeet. In His timing. And if God hasn’t opened that door for you, it means this young man doesn’t need you. Not now, not yet, and perhaps never. Be content to be this young man’s friend! That’s exactly all you should be, and all He has thus far allowed you to be. We are doing our brothers in Christ a disservice when we try to move forward in a deeper relationship. Love doesn’t vaunt herself, doesn’t seek her own.

Can we enjoy this person’s company? Certainly! It’s actually inevitable. When you are attracted to someone, everything about them is enjoyable. And it’s okay. You can enjoy them in purity. But any closeness, learning of their heart, fellowship, even friendship must be directed by Jesus. We don’t need to initiate anything. If our future includes this man, Jesus wills see to it. Love doesn’t give to get. So next time we interact, we should be alert to our motives. Do we tell them we respect them to encourage or to spark a fire? What is behind the smile we give them?

But what about those times when we innocently look up and find him smiling at us? What about those moments you feel “butterflies”? The moments when you feel you could wrap your heart up in a box and give it away…what then?

To react with guilt is only self inflicted abuse. But then to swing to the other extreme and revel in it and look for, or initiate, that experience again is taking matters into our own hands and reacting selfishly. To decide to ignore their existence or your emotion’s existence is foolish and impractical, but then to focus on that person to the point that our duties and friendships are neglected or halfheartedly invested in, is also wrong.

There is a balance! There is a way to love this person, even with all the emotions, the right way. We humbly accept the feelings and give it to Jesus, by letting Him know, and letting Him dictate. To deny ourselves the reveling in the feelings is to think highly of him, and a lesson in love. We respect him too much to give in to our emotions. Do we honestly want to gain attraction by mere flirtatious acts? Of course not! We want him to fall in love with us for who we are, not what we give.

He isn’t ours. Even if somehow Jesus promised him to us, he still isn’t ours. We know this, but what do our actions show? We might not think we are being possessive, but we should act with this young man, how we’d hope other girls would treat him. Why? He doesn’t belong to them either! If we stirred up desires in a man that were more than brotherly, we have caused him to lust! It doesn’t matter if he will someday be your man. Today isn’t someday – he isn’t yours anymore than the other girls in his life.

The emotions will be there. Don’t ignore or embrace. Acknowledge them but give them to Someone who can deal with them in righteousness. It does work. It can be done. And if that other person is also trying to treat you with all purity it becomes a mutual respect and love that goes beyond feelings and emotions.

This is something I recently felt encouraged in, and I hope I was able to convey it to you clearly so your heart might also be blessed.

Keeping our Hearts with Diligence, Part Two

This is the continuation from my previous post “Keeping our Hearts with Diligence (Part I)”.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  (Proverbs 4:23)

In my previous post on keeping our hearts with diligence, I stopped with the subject of our eyes. Who we might be looking at. What we are looking for. Where we are setting our affections.

Colossians 3:2-3 says- “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” 

The problem is most of us haven’t even realized who we truly belong to. The reason our affections aren’t on things above, but are rather, on this earth, is because our lives are not hid with Christ in God. But they are supposed to be. In fact, Romans 12:1-2 tells us that this is only our “reasonable service”. Paul couldn’t even go beyond what was “reasonable”, because the Christians wouldn’t even do that. And while the desires of our hearts can be extremely hard to give up, I know, it is a crucial part of our walk with the Lord. We do not belong to ourselves. It is not our life alone, to choose what we want to do with it or who we will spend it with. We answer to the Lord.

“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.” (v.26)

Here I would like to talk about our path. “Let our ways be established”. Where are we going? What is our goal? What are we establishing?

I heard it said recently, that “You are either devising your own way or God is ordering your steps.” When it comes to our heart’s path, there isn’t much middle ground. Either you are conniving to get what you want or you are waiting on what the Lord wants to give you. And if you would but search your heart a little while, you’d know exactly which one you were. The truth is, our actions speak louder than our words. A lot of young girls will say that they are waiting on the Lord, but their actions do not prove it to be true. They seem almost desperate to attach themselves to someone. This shouldn’t be. Why? Because our contentment is found in the Lord. He is the One satisfying our heart’s desire. He fills all our emotional needs. He is love. He is our purpose. He is our goal. Sometimes it is needful to ask ourselves a few questions.

Just to see where our hearts honestly are.

Am I content exactly where God has placed me?

Is there anything (or anyone) that seems to always come before my desire for Christ?

Am I patient and happy to wait for His perfect timing, even if it’s much longer than I would have expected?

Is there just as much peace in letting go of my desires as in seeing them fulfilled?

Proverbs 28:26 says, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”

“Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.” (Proverbs 23:19)

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before, “follow your heart”. What a dangerous thing to do! Seeing as our hearts are deceitfully wicked above all things. They are not supposed to be followed, or heeded in the least. No, instead, we are actually commanded to guide our hearts. So, while our hearts will often at times feel completely unruly and impossible to deal with, they aren’t. How are we to guide our hearts? By trusting them to Jesus.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

By trusting our hearts to the Lord, we allow Him to lead them. This often requires continual surrender. But with surrender, comes a blessed peace. The Lord Jesus wants to establish our ways. He wants to lead our hearts. His paths are always the loveliest to follow. He is a good Heavenly Father. He delights to give His children good things. We can trust Him. And no path can be deemed lonely when He is the One traveling it with you.

“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Psalms 40:2)

In Isaiah 55: 8 and 9, we see where the Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways, not our ways. They are infinitely higher and so much wiser. Sometimes, it would seem, the Lord has to rescue me from myself. Thinking that I know what is best for me, when in reality, I don’t. Of course, we all think that if we really got what our hearts longed and wished for it would all turn out right in the end. But just as a wise mother lovingly holds back her child from danger, so Christ holds us back from what we don’t understand. We will never see as He sees. And we can never love ourselves as much as He truly loves us. There is just as much love in His “yes” as in His “no”.

I remember one time in my life, a couple of years ago, when I wondered about a certain young man in my life. I found myself attracted to him and wondered if the feeling was mutual. Considering whether he might be the Lord’s will for me or not, I prayed about it. And the Lord gave me John 21:21-22.

“Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”

Basically, it is none of your business.  J

What is my path? To follow after Jesus. And the rest is His responsibility. It doesn’t matter who your future husband may or may not be, or where he even is, that is for the Lord to direct. We are to be waiting and keeping our hearts with all purity, with all diligence. The Lord has to be our goal. Not marriage. Not a relationship. Not anything else. Just Him.

“Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” (v. 27)

And then, we have the command to “turn not” and to “remove thy foot from evil.” Again, it isn’t “evil” to like someone. It isn’t “evil” to want to get married. But it is evil to be thinking or dwelling on anything that doesn’t fit into the verse of Philippians 4:8.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

In removing our foot from evil, we need to be establishing our thoughts.

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

Our thoughts are very important to the Lord. It is easy to excuse them as not really being “that big of a deal”, especially since no one else can actually see them and aren’t necessarily effected by them. But this isn’t actually true. For one thing, Jesus sees all our thoughts. He is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) And if for no other reason, we should care that our thoughts are pure because of Him. Proverbs 23:7 tells us “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” What we think about, says a lot about us. Where our minds continually dwell, says a lot about where our hearts are. And while others may not see your thoughts per se, our thoughts affect our actions, which then affect those around us. It is important where our minds wonder. You are not alone in your little world of imagination. Girls tend to daydream to an unhealthy level. It almost seems to be built into our nature somehow. Like the little girl who always wants to play house. We were made to be homemakers and “nesting” comes, oh, too easily. We think about what our future might look like. Girls are also very relational. And it is not uncommon for girls to often think about their future husbands (or who that might be) and even their future children before ever entering that time of their life. And while it might not necessarily be wicked, it can be dangerous. It can be taken to an unhealthy level and reality can be lost. Our “fantasy”, or even hope of what our futures might be, can become more enjoyable to live than our actual life.

Proverbs 24:9 says, “The thought of foolishness is sin:”

This verse puts an immediate stop to all day dreaming, because that’s exactly what it is. Foolishness. According to Philippians 4:8, it isn’t whatsoever things are true. It isn’t whatsoever things are honest. It is vanity.

If you’ve ever “liked” someone in particular, you already know just how easy it is to think about that person. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, he can be in the back of your thoughts. And while thinking about that person isn’t necessarily a sin itself, and honestly just comes naturally, what we are thinking could be. Are you already mentally planning as if you’d spend your future with him? This isn’t right. This isn’t whatsoever things are just. Are your thoughts always drifting to the romantic side of things? This isn’t whatsoever things are pure; whatsoever things are lovely; whatsoever things are of good report. There are other thoughts along this subject which are more subtle, but equally just as dangerous if not more so. These are the thoughts about this “special someone” that actually are true. Things said or events that actually happened. Such as, maybe the last time your families spent the day together or when you last saw him at church; whatever it might be. Our minds have a way of “replaying” everything. Like, how he looked at you, or even if he looked at you. What was said; how we laughed together. Maybe the things you did. All these “little things” become precious and hidden away in our hearts when we like someone. But my question is: Is it virtuous? Is it praiseworthy? Philippians 4:8 says “…if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” And it is all such thoughts that we must surrender to the Lord. They are not healthy for us to hold so close to our hearts, or to replay in our minds.

II Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ:”

Our thoughts must be brought captive to the obedience of Christ. When our minds wonder foolishly or even romantically, we must stop and submit them to the Lord. It hast to be a conscious effort. It is a choice we make. “Casting down imaginations”.  We must cast them down at Jesus’ feet. And when we do, we’ll find that He is always there faithfully waiting to take our thoughts and imaginations. That He has already promised the victory. It is ours to claim at the very moment our hearts looks up towards Him. Ephesians 4:23 says, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” Our minds need to be renewed. And it is by taking them to Jesus that He then forgives and cleanses and renews them again.

“And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4)

“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psalms 10:4)

Sadly, what could be said of the “wicked” here, could also be said of most Christians. God is not in all his thoughts. And what a difference it would make if He was!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23-24)

In order for the Lord to even be able to help us keep our hearts with diligence, they must first be given to Him. He must have our heart. Our will must be put into neutral. Our hearts cannot be set on anything that isn’t of the Lord. Even with the things that just aren’t His timing yet. We cannot have a froward heart. To stubbornly insist on our own way is heartache.

“He that hath a froward heart findeth no good:” (Proverbs 17:20)

“They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.” (Proverbs 11:20)

In Luke 12, we are encouraged to “take no thought for your life”. I think this is the biggest secret to keeping our hearts with all diligence. Letting God be our everything. When we have let go of our life, our plans, our dreams, our heart’s desires, our future hopes, and our deepest longings; when instead, all else becomes as complete loss compared to Him; when He becomes that one desire of our hearts.

“I’ve been a great deal happier since I have given up thinking about what is easy and pleasant, and being discontented because I couldn’t have my own will. Our life is determined for us; and it makes the mind very free when we give up wishing, and only think of bearing what is laid upon us, and doing what is given us to do.” George Eliot

Keeping our Hearts with Diligence, Part One

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  (Proverbs 4:23)

I’ll be honest. This verse has always discouraged me. I’ve heard it my whole life growing up- “Keep your heart. Keep your heart. Keep your heart!” I’ve even told this to other girls younger than me. But what does it mean to “keep your heart” anyways? It always felt like a pretty good saying that was somewhat overused and completely unexplained. But it was Biblical, right? It was most commonly used in reference to boys. Not giving your heart away to some guy you “like” or have a “crush on” when you’re 14, that may after all, never be your husband.

It has also been commonly used as I’ve gotten older, during the years when you are officially “coming of age” and marriage is actually a very real possibility. If you ever show interest in a guy or he shows interest in you, it is one of the first things you hear. “Keep your heart.” It sounds good, I’d like to be able to do that, but how? What does it even mean? What does it look like, practically applied?

I’ve been told that if you don’t keep your heart, you will be giving away pieces of that heart, which can never again be recovered. That you will then, never have a “complete” heart to give someone else. I am honestly not sure this is strictly true, just speaking from experience, but I do know there is a difference between “liking someone” and literally “giving someone your heart”. Some girls think they are “in love” with a guy they’ve hardly even spoken three words to, when really, they are only in love with the idea of being in love. This is called “infatuation”. For those of you who might be worried that because you have liked someone, you’ve ruined any chance of giving yourself completely to your husband, I’d like to say that giving your heart, is actually a choice we make. Just like love is a choice. It is painful, vulnerable, and not something that “accidently happens” without our knowing it. Being attracted to someone isn’t “falling in love with that person”. Also, just because you are interested in a potential possibility, doesn’t mean you are “beyond the point of no return”.

That being said, however, I would also like to bring out the fact that our hearts are extremely weak and vulnerable. We can form dangerous “heart strings” very quickly. We can easily become unhealthily attached to someone. (For more on “heart stings”- please look up Toni’s previous post “HeartStrings”.) We do need to be careful. The Lord wouldn’t have commanded us to “keep our hearts with all diligence” if He also didn’t know that out of them are the “issues of life”! Our hearts are also very deceitful. The Lord describes them as such in Jeremiah 17:9- “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

We can’t even know our own hearts. They deceive us.

But guess who does?

“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:10)

Job understood this truth. He says – “And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this is with thee.” (Job 10:13)

Just because “giving our hearts away” is a choice, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be careful not to make that choice. And because our hearts are desperately wicked and deceitful, we need to be cautious. Just the simple fact that God told us to “keep” them, actually means that they can be “given away”. So how do we keep our hearts?

Here is something I recently wrote in my diary-

“The heart seems unruly and impossible to keep. But then, why would He give the command to? He would be an unjust God to command something without giving the ability to actually do it. God doesn’t give commands that are unreasonable. Yet, He also tells us that without HIM, we can do nothing. He is involved in the heart’s keeping. He has to be. However, I think there are principles we can live by to help that along. Just like, we can ‘quench the Spirit’, we can quench His working in our hearts.”

Here are some principles which I believe enable us to keep our hearts with all diligence. All of them are taken from the four verses immediately following Proverbs 4:23, where He tells us to “keep our hearts with all diligence”.

 “Put away from thee a forward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” (v.24)

Firstly, we have our mouths. James has a lot to say about the tongue.

“Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! …For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. … Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? …Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. (James 3:4-5,7-8,10-11,13)

Where are our words continually dwelling? What are our lips speaking? What are we always talking about? Is it the typical “Who likes who”? Is it always about boys? And romance? Or maybe something even a little more subtle. “I can’t wait to do this or that for my wedding!”? Whatever it might be. Is it wrong to like someone? No. Is it evil to want to get married? Certainly not. Is it wicked to be excited about what you might or might not do for your wedding colors? No, it isn’t. But what we are usually talking about, what we are always dwelling on, says something about where our hearts are. We also need to remember that our mouths also affect our listener. We are not an island to ourselves. Remember how James just talked about a fountain either yielding bitter water or sweet? It is the exact same with our words. We can either be edifying our listener, or we can be corrupting their minds. It could be blessing or cursing. Why won’t we try to use our words to edify? Maybe the next time one of your girl friends wants to talk about the “latest with so and so”, you could casually change the topic. Why not share what’s on our hearts about Christ? He is an endless and beautiful subject matter. Or maybe, we don’t, simply because we wouldn’t have anything to share? I hope not. Or maybe you know someone who is discouraged about their singleness? You just might be able to encourage that heart to stay content in Jesus alone, simply by how you use yours words. A wise man will show forth his works in a good conversation.

“Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.”  (v.25)

Next, we have our eyes. We are told to let them look “right on” and to what is “straight before thee”. But in doing so, we have to honestly ask ourselves a few questions. What is before me? Where are my eyes looking? Who are they looking at?

Hebrews 12:2 says- Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Corinthians 3:18)

What we are focused on, is what we become. As we set our faces towards the Lord, we are changed into the same image. I wonder what our faces would look like in comparison to this standard. I wonder what we’d honestly see. It depends completely on what our hearts are truly seeking. What are we looking for? Romance? Marriage? Selfish desires? Fulfillment from our own dreams?

I hope it’s more.

Proverbs 23:5 warns us about where we set our eyes.

“Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?”

If the Lord has told us “no”, then there is a good reason for it. To continue to set our eyes and hearts on something that is not the Lord’s will for us, is not only vain, but can be a hindrance in our walk with the Lord. We have to trust Him with our hearts’ desires. We have to rely on His wisdom.

He searches the same heart that so easily deceives us.

Proverbs 14:30 says- “A sound heart is the life of the flesh:  but envy the rottenness of the bones.”

What is a sound heart other than a strong confidence and contentment in the Lord? A heart that is set towards following Jesus Christ. Not having a heart that is envious. Not wanting something that doesn’t belong to you. That could also apply to things we just don’t have yet. Are our desires and the focus of our hearts encouraging “life”, or maybe, “rottenness” to our bones? Where we set our eyes bears a big part in how we keep our hearts with all diligence.

To be continued….