Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Who Guards Your Heart?


Mark 9:24
Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Our hearts can either be guarded from God in doubt and distrust, or peace will guard our hearts through relationship as we abide in Christ. ~Christa Black Gifford, Heart Made Whole

It has been thirty-one years since I decided to return to the church I was only sporadically exposed to during my childhood.  I know instinctively that what I've been missing in my shallow, faltering life is God.  And the only way I know to find him is in church.

The moment I step from narthex to nave, the miraculous occurs.  God greets me!  Audibly!  Welcome home!  The voice booms like thunder in my head.  I am awestruck. Amazed!  Beside myself with an indescribable joy.

This prodigal has arrived at the beginning of beginnings, not knowing where the journey will lead, but all in for what God has in store for my life.

As the days, weeks, months, and yes, years pass since that spiritual turning point, I attend church faithfully, involving myself and my children in as many activities as possible.  I look to all the world like a practicing Christian, but on the inside, I'm unexpectedly, disappointingly, battling doubts about my faith.

I try to push them away, blaming their presence on years of secular upbringing, but the harder I try, the more intense they become.  When I look around at my fellow parishioners during worship services, their faces pure and pious (or so I perceive), I am so envious of their whole-hearted acceptance of all God is and was and will be.  Why can't I just let go?  Let go and let God?  Why does my heart doubt?

And every Sunday, when we reach the point of the confessional prayer, the words, "we have not loved you with our whole heart," never cease to leap out of me, shaking their little fists of blame and accusation.  I know what is wrong.  I simply don't know how to fix it.

I wish, back then, that I had had these wise words of Christa Black Gifford in the third chapter, The Doubting Heart, of Hearts Made Whole:  "The deceiver knows that if he can get you to question God as a good Father - believing that He doesn't love you fiercely, that He doesn't fight to protect you, that He didn't send His only Son to restore you to His embrace - then you will begin to withhold pieces of your heart from Him, just as I did."

You see, the devil, who had held me fast in his clutches for so long, deluding himself into thinking he has a prize catch, is enraged by this path I've chosen instead.  He plays every game with my heart and mind, constantly placing those doubts there, staying me from moving past religion into true relationship with God.  He is a tenacious, tortuous enemy, but he cannot and does not win.

For my God who loves me fiercely, who fights to protect me, who died to save me, reveals to me His truth:  I can love because He loved me first.

I need not guard my heart any longer.

I can trust Jesus to guard it for me.

Who guards your heart?

~



For the next six Wednesdays, I will be discussing the book, Heart Made Whole, with fellow Christian bloggers.  Jason StasyszenSarah Salter and Glynn Young.  Want to join us?  Simply order your book at Amazon and chime in on chapter four next week.  We would love to have you!
God bless!

16 comments:

  1. Without faith, doubt can't exist. In that sense, doubt is a confirmation faith.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Glynn, I really love that thought! I'll hang onto that one.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  2. This article gave me a new insight.
    Thank you, dear Martha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So gratified that it did, Portia.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  3. Martha, Thank you for sharing part of your testimony. Our hearts really are restless until we find peace with God. With all that is going in the world and just in my life, I see how much a difference the Lord makes. I'm so glad that I'm His daughter!

    Love and blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And you are so blessed to be His daughter, Kim! I am, too, and will never forget His love for me, for you, and for all of us.
      Our hearts will never be content until we find peace with Jesus.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  4. What a perfect example of trying to take over God's job! I don't even need to guard my own heart. My effort to guard it keeps God out, not in.

    I ran across this verse this morning, and it seemed so perfect, I wrote it on a sticky note and put it by my computer.

    "In returning and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and in trust shall be your strength." Isaiah 30:15

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Galen, this quote is perfect! Our peace and strength are absolutely in the Lord. There is no substitution. His words are filled with ultimate wisdom; we need only listen with hearts open.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  5. Great post! I wish I was able to do this book club reading!
    Your post reminds me of a Bible study I just completed on my Bible app about Doubting forward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TC, I wish you could participate, too, but know your comments are so much appreciated!
      Doubting forward . . . reminds me of Glynn's comment above. Is that what it means to have faith? Doubt confirms? Lots to think about!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  6. Hi Martha! I think it's so great that you talk about your own doubts, I have a post in the works for the same idea. We read so much from others about how solid they are in faith, and that's wonderful...but we all have moments and times of 'what if?'
    I read a great passage from a book I'm reading about how faith is much like love. Very intense and first, and at the end. But the middle? It's work. And not always immediately rewarding. We all go through this kind of questioning, and I think it makes us stronger in the end.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ceil, it does make us stronger in the end, these doubts and questions. God always knows what He is doing. We simply need to listen and obey.
      And if I'm not honest about my own doubts as a Christian growing in the faith, what good am I to the secular masses? They have their doubts and their loaded questions as to why we are Christians. They need an honest answer. I pray through my blogs and novels, that I can give them hope in Christ.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  7. wow I reread this several times. I think God welcomes our doubting - He wants to talk with us, be with us, love us. I love that bible verse - help my unbelief. I say it so often. Isn't it sad that as we look around church as those pious looking others, we don't have more soul to soul discussions about our ups and down in our faith. I bet we find many more dealing with doubts than we know. and sharing opening with one another would strengthen our faith. See you got me thinking.... Thanks Martha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jean, your word touched my very soul.
      "God welcomes our doubting."
      Yes, I believe He does. We are so fallen, so far from what His heart intended us to be, and that He loves us in spite of it all? Amazing!!!
      I'm glad this got you thinking, Jean, because it certainly had my mind in a whirl.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  8. There's a reason that Doubting Thomas was one of Jesus' followers. There's an encouragement there for us in this generation. Jesus loves me, His arms are wide open, I am free to come just as I am with all my messy doubts and fears.

    He loves it when I do so.

    We're in good hands, holy hands, friend ... aren't we.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Boy, do I know about looking around and thinking everyone else has it together while I'm just a faltering dolt... It's not true. He does fiercely love and protect us, and He is fully worthy of our trust and devotion. So good, Martha! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

Happy Birthday, Virginia Rose!

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Seven years ...