Hi everyone, Rob here.
After getting back from the U.S.A it felt good to be home. New Zealand is an awesome country to live in; peaceful, beautiful, relaxed and quality coffee readily available! Once the jet lag cleared I got busy preparing myself and the church I pastor for a busy finish to the year. Then I got sick. Energy drained away from me as quickly as it reappeared. With energy went motivation. With motivation went spiritual vitality and soon I was feeling as flat as the proverbial pancake, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I asked the elders for prayer and one of them sensed that I was under spiritual attack. This confirmed what I was thinking and it refocused my prayer life and how I was using my time. I invested in some quality teaching, some purposeful journaling exercises and direct action against the enemy in the name and authority of Jesus. The heaviness has lifted and I can sense my heart rising again.
The movements of our hearts are dynamic and require vigilance. We like to quote Proverbs 4:23 in regard to this.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Above all else. That’s the bit we stumble over. I realised that I had made a few tactical errors after returning from the trip. One was that I didn’t take a retreat day to process the trip with God and internalise what he had taught me through it about himself, myself and life. By not taking the time to process the trip in his presence I was left with the emotional come down that such adventures can bring. Another error was that I didn’t take a sick day. I took two mornings off but I made up those hours with other activities. I didn’t give myself permission to switch off and truly rest. There was so much to do after all! Sometimes it’s physical and mental rest that we need when we’re sick. I pushed my heart’s capacity for engagement to the limit and paid the price. Finally, I let my spiritual disciplines slide. Not too much, but enough to leave me feeling disengaged from God’s heart.
This is not an exercise in self-condemnation. God has restored me, forgiven me and protected me. God showed me these errors to teach me that I move ahead of him too often. He wants to teach me how to guard my heart more effectively and that means slowing down, asking him what I need each day, offering myself fully to him, investing time to listen and meditate on him and do what he wants me to do instead of rushing into what I think I should be doing. He is not condemning me but inviting me into a richer and fuller life. I get disengaged too easily and start getting false ideas of what Jesus is like because of that disengagement. Lately Jesus has seemed distant and disapproving. Did I mention I was under spiritual attack? When we start to lose Jesus we know that the enemy is busy!
God was busy too. The restorative process has been full of joy. I got Jesus back. My eyes were opened through a great journaling session that John Eldredge led online. I was able to enter into worship freely and joyfully. God spoke to me through my sermon preparation. He led me to some great Springsteen material on You Tube! God cares for our hearts and wants to teach us how to guard them because they are so precious to him. Let your heart be precious to you.
How about you? How is your heart doing? Are you paying attention to it or ignoring it for the sake of convenience? Are you thinking short-term or are you investing in your emotional and spiritual health for the sake of the life long journey that you face? Is your heart engaged with God’s heart? The enemy is after that precious heart of yours. If he wasn’t we wouldn’t be told to guard it above all else! But God is on the case. Jesus has triumphed. The Spirit dwells within. Take your place in Jesus; in his cross, his resurrection and his rule. Let him show you how to fight, how to protect yourself and how to be restored. Your heart matters.