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One of the greatest paradoxes of human behavior is embraced by this quote from Emily Dickenson, made popular in a song by Selena Gomez. Our most important decisions about romance, vocation and purchases are always in tension between our intellect and our hearts. We decide without thinking based on the desires of our hearts, but we justify those same actions with logic and facts. We believe our minds are persuaded by reason, but our hearts are really driving the bus. About 90% of our decisions are made from the heart. Our minds are good computers used to weave an elaborate post mortem justification for actions motivated from the heart.
This philosophic enigma of human experience is a central topic of religion, government and education… how to rein in these out-of-control emotions. The fundamental premise of intellectualism is that our hearts are deceptive organs that must be subdued with logic and discipline. The end result is that we disciple all these walking time bombs, wanting to do the “right” thing on the surface, but tantalizingly and irreversible drifting toward another at the core. Here’s the logical fact: the heart wins 90% of the time.
The gospel of the Kingdom is relatively a secret, especially in the religious mountain. God writes His desires in our hearts. Spiritual maturity is living from the heart, not the head… doing what we enjoy and were created for. Its fun, fulfilling and a lifelong party to walk with your heart instead of against it.
But! – The first question is, “But what if my desires are wrong?” It’s a fair and practical question because we’ve all experienced wrong decisions which led us down a blind alley to a shipwreck. We’ve all vowed that we would be more disciplined and less trusting of our hearts. Really, we just gave our consent to join the time bombs whose hearts occasionally leap out and mislead us. None of us were designed by God to live or think or behave outside of our own hearts.
It’s actually fairly easy to discern the difference between a good desire that God wired into your heart and the false that come from somewhere else. Our hearts have very logical reasons for the yearnings we have – they are just buried in our subconscious and are difficult to find. The logic of our hearts is always rooted in experiences, not mental philosophies or theologies. Hearts are easily misled by the vows we make after a bad experience. Our hearts interpret each new step into the future based on those past experiences. What does it take to change a heart? – a new experience.
The new experience – Overwriting a bad experience with a good one isn’t always easy, but that’s the price tag for changing our hearts. It is actually fairly easy for a believer, because that new experience is often an experience with the Holy Spirit in the presence of God. For example, vows rooted in bad experiences usually translate to fear of certain new opportunities. My heart has decided against a repeat. The Holy Spirit can safely lead us through a few test runs to build up our courage and then show us the future so we get a taste of the real desire in our hearts and the fruit of acting on them.
I stood up in front of 500 people a few weeks ago in a foreign country and poured out my heart through a translator. I have plenty of experiences for that scenario going badly… and many new ones of it going well. My heart is always intimidated. I’m continually in a state of needing the Lord to give me a taste of how good it will turn out, to turn up the courage to be myself and let the desires of my own heart transparently unfold before others. The same is true for all of us in relationships and work scenarios. There are always risky and fearful experiences in our past that have to be overcome with a preview of a positive future via the Holy Spirit. I could tell you that I’ve had so many positive experiences that I’m no longer afraid… you would soon see through my bravado and a failure would be in the offing. I really do need Jesus to do exploits. It’s a partnership for which I no longer apologize. Fear of the Lord is the Biblical principle, but a more modern translation might be affection for the Father who shares my heart… or is it that I share His? Does it matter? I just know the feeling of the ingredients; a preview of victory and the presence of God. The exact same ingredients work in my vocation and relationships as well. I take risks in every area once I have a preview of victory and the presence of Jesus – I can be bold as Lion.
Here’s how it works. Before your next assignment or challenge, spend time before the Lord and explore how your heart wants it to turn out. What would it look like if your dream came true? …if the heart of God manifest. Then, simply walk into your challenge with an expectation that your dream will come true. You’ll be surprised at the goodness of God. You represent Him in your exploit… God wants you to succeed.
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. 5 We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. Ps 20:4-5 NIV
Responding to the right heart’s desire – The biggest question isn’t dealing with bad desires; It’s mustering the courage to act on legitimate desires. I find most believers and unbelievers struggling to walk through open doors both spiritually and practically. Personal fear defeats us much more often than spiritual warfare, resistance from people or untimely circumstances. Our hearts will still yearn for the things God has put in us regardless of obstacles. Why not give yourself permission to simply explore those desires, discern the good ones, heal the bad ones and go for it? Your own heart and the heart of God are both rooting for you to simply say, “Yes Lord,” and follow your heart. It’s life and life more abundantly. It’s the gospel of the Kingdom. The rest of us need your example of liberty, transparency, exploits and party. Christ in you (the heart of God) wants what the heart wants.
The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. Prov 20:5 NIV
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Cor 2:9-12 NIV