Rekindling the Heart

March 31, 2009 at 11:05 pm (Uncategorized)

I woke up this morning as I do on many mornings, a few minutes before my alarm went off.  Sometimes it seems a small cruelty when the red numbers burn a 5:28 in the darkness, but this morning wasn’t bad, simply quiet.  I have begun to enjoy the silence of the morning, the centering of spirit that can take place.

I got to thinking back to the summer of 2001, where I spent a month in the sweeping landscapes of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, attending a Christian leadership camp called SLT. 

Sunset at Cedar Campus

Sunset at Cedar Campus

Among the many challenges and lessons I learned there, I made a commitment to read the Bible every day, and except for two days since then, I have fulfilled that commitment.  I say it not in the spirit of pride but as a matter of fact.  Indeed there is no place for pride because somewhere along the way, I lost sight of why I made the decision in the first place.  Eventually, instead of a transformative experience, it became a habitual duty with little inspiration or growth, often relegated to the last thing I would do before going to bed.  Brush teeth: check.  Lie down: check.  Tell wife I love her: check.  Read some verses before falling asleep: check.

For years at a time I would slip into this monotony of religiosity.  And I knew it.  But as of late I’ve felt myself coming out of the indifference, and God has answered my prayers to stir up in me a desire for his Word, for his calling in my life.  I’m sure God has used a myriad of variables to bring about this renewal, many of which I’m not even aware of, but when I think of it, I can see some of them at work in my heart. 

One such variable is my daughter Toby.  As I’ve discussed in an earlier reflection, her presence has altered my understanding of God and how he loves each of us.  Like Saul, when something akin to scales fell away from his eyes, allowing him to see once again but with renewed vision, I feel as if my heart has shed its own metaphorical scales, and I see things differently.  I’ve realized I am afraid of raising my daughter with the teachings of Jesus while refusing to be sold out to him.

Another impetus is the challenge of a theological paradigm I’ve held for years, whether I realized it or not.  Over the last two years, I’ve been meeting with three other Christ-followers on a weekly basis.  Our most recent studies have been on a book called Desiring God by John Piper.  The author presents compelling arguments for a lifestyle in which we unendingly pursue joy.  He claims that we naturally seek out our own happiness, and such pursuit isn’t wrong.  What is wrong is not pursuing that happiness as deeply and passionately as we should.  Namely, that our greatest happiness is found in being fully enveloped in God’s love and will for our lives.  Settling for anything less will leave us unsatisfied.  This mindset contrasts my previous way of relating to God, which was based on duty–that I owed God for my salvation.  I heard an apt comparison from Bob, a great friend of mine: I was like a husband giving his wife flowers out of duty instead of out of the joy of love.  How happy could she be with a gift that I gave her because it was “my duty?”  Not very.  She’d be justified in rejecting such a “gift” altogether.  This isn’t a perfect parallel to our relationship with God, but some main concepts work.  Not that God’s happiness is any way dependent on me–he is fully satisfied in himself–but to know that my heart must be in the right place changes everything for me.

Add in a touch of discipline with the motivation to authentically seek joy in God, and the morning has become a time of solace, reflection, and centering for me.  Instead of a reading quota to fill, I am digging into the Word with openness, and finding deep fulfillment working its way out in my heart, relationships, and life. 

Next time you wake up a couple of minutes before your alarm, resist the urge to roll over and despair at the injustice of sleep deprivation.  Instead, seek out God in the silence.  Trust me, he is there.

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4 Comments

  1. matt said,

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  2. Bob said,

    I need to copy that poem from my version of Desiring God for you. It really clarifies his point and makes you feel silly for elevating duty above joy. How do we come to that?

    I think in part it’s because performing a duty glorifies us–it elevates the value of our will to dutifully overcome an object’s lack of worthiness. In contrast, action born of joy demonstrates the worthiness of the source of that joy. The impetus isn’t our will, but rather the object’s ability to inspire joy that overflows in action.

  3. carrierofthename said,

    I’d love to get a copy of it. Thanks.

  4. Dan said,

    Its a blessing to see ourselfs growth and acceptance of grace, lead to that point by our GOD.

    Your inspiration about giving from the heart rather than out of duty signficantly addresses a personal realization, only God can bring to us.

    I ask myself sometimes, why did it take me until my late thirties and the birth of my daughters a few years earlier to grow in Christ like this?

    We have been to UP Michigan year after year, our family has property near mackinaw and Willow Creek has Camp Paradise. Totally GODS presence up there, and i believe its in the silence and no cell phones or TV that we HEAR HIM., God is here now by am I listening? At 538 i bet i have a much better chance of connecting and listening to God than now.

    Thanks for sharing,.

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