An unexpected benefit of writing this blog is how connecting with others has enriched my life. One of my favorite fellow bloggers is Nancy Franson who writes a wonderful blog called, Out of My Alleged Mind. Please check out her blog.
As I ponder heart healthy spirituality this month, I asked Nancy to guest post for me today. Thank you Nancy for being here and sharing your story.
Desperate and Deceitful
Most people who commit to memorizing Scripture begin, I imagine, with passages, which are familiar to many both inside and out of the church.
John 3:16 is a likely starting point. The reference shows up on signs in the end zones of professional football games and on the eye black of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. For God so loved the world, John 3:16 reads, He gave His only begotten son . . . The verse is a succinct explanation of the gospel message, one well worth committing to memory.
John 11:35 is another easy entry point into the discipline of Scripture memorization. Two simple words: Jesus wept. Hiding a verse in one’s heart doesn’t get much easier than that.
Those two verses were probably among the first I memorized as a child. Another I remember vividly, and in the King James, was this:
The heart is deceitful of above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
I don’t remember who assigned me the task of memorizing that verse from Jeremiah. It may have been the elderly neighbor who hosted an after school Bible club, or it may have been assigned as part of an AWANA club program. I do remember, as a young child, thinking it was a strange verse. I was young enough that I wasn’t sure what the words deceitful and desperately meant. I kept confusing the order of the two words, both of which began with the letter d.
As I grew older and began to understand what the words meant, I continued to think this was a strange verse to assign to a young child. Its message didn’t seem an important for me to know. I was willing to acknowledge that bad people had deceitful hearts that were desperately wicked, but I didn’t really think mine was.
Even though, by faith I know Christ has given me a new heart, one that desires relationship with him, I’ve come to know just how deceitful mine can be. It often gives voice to my deepest doubts and fears:
- Forgiven? Really? You believe that, knowing what you’ve done and all you are capable of?
- You call yourself a follower of Christ and that’s how you behave? You think God is going to keep putting up with you?
- What makes you think you’ve got anything to offer to God? To your family? To the world?
- You realize, of course, that you’ve probably messed up your kids? They’ll probably never have a relationship with Christ because they’ve witnessed your failings.
- How can you even be certain God is there? Or that he’s trustworthy? Or that he is good?
My heart, the heart of a good little girl who grew up going to Bible club and AWANA, who memorized Bible verses and learned Scripture, is deceitful of above all things and desperately wicked. I know what Scripture says about who God is and what he has done on my behalf. Yet my feelings often lead me to believe otherwise. The wellspring of my emotions and will often tempts me to believe desperately wicked lies.
In his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson cautions the believer against paying too much heed to what the heart says. He wrote:
My feelings are important for many things. They are essential and valuable. They keep me aware of much that is true and real. But they tell me next to nothing about God or my relation to God. My security comes from who God is, not from how I feel. Discipleship is a decision to live by what I know about God, not by what I feel about him or myself or my neighbors.
The only antidote I know for my sin-sick deceitful heart is God’s own heart. In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul told the believers he prayed for them in this way:
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
2 Thessalonians 3:5 ESV
Scripture teaches me about God’s heart for me, His delight in me, and His determination to woo my deceitful heart to His. I meditate on the steadfastness of Christ, His determination to reach Jerusalem and spill, on my behalf, the life-giving blood that pumped through His heart. I think of Him persevering in prayer for me, doing battle against the lies, which condemn me. As I allow these truths to course through my veins, God continues His work of healing my heart from the remnants of desperation and deceit, which linger there.
As I cling to truth about God’s heart for me, He creates in me a clean one and restores a right spirit within me.
What Bible verse mentioning the heart do you remember?