The journey to rediscover my heart started with not recognizing it had been lost along the way. It had been lost in seeking to please people and being oh, so busy trying to do so. It had been lost in seeking to meet expectations set by others as well as myself that I believed were not even high enough for God! It had been lost because I didn’t know there was a battle raging for it before salvation as well as afterward.
The incredible truth of His love for you and also me is that the Lord is always working behind the scenes and sometimes on center stage to lead us to the truth of who we are and what He has placed in us.
Maurice Wagner in The Sensation of Being Somebody was one of my early companions on the journey of discovery. He set my feet on the right path many years ago when the pastoral counselor I had worked with introduced me to his book. His words urged me step-by-step to learn more about who I was, how I came to be that way, and the truth the Lord had designed for me. His balance and wisdom were uncommon and started to free me in subtle as well as obvious ways.
“Our security is not in our ability by faith in God to get Him to change our situations so that we will be less disturbed by the conditional and variable factors, nor is it in the fact that He might heal our bodies or reduce our pain. Our security is in our submission to His divine scheme of things and in our accepting what He can and does mean to our sense of true self-identity.” (Maurice Wagner)
Learning from him helped me begin to set aside the ways (both unhealthy and healthy) I had used to verify myself with little success. He would open passages of scripture I had read, but now “heard” differently.
John Eldredge and Brent Curtis would open my understanding to the battle for my heart and the enemy’s scheme to keep that battle outside of my awareness.
“Before Lucifer could become a true citizen of hell, he had to kill the desires of his own heart. He did it with scorn and much scorn was required. And this is the strategy with each of us: to kill the desire that would eventually lead us back to the One who loves us, using all forms of shame, contempt, apathy, anesthesia, and perversion at his disposal.” (Eldredge and Curtis in The Sacred Romance)
If he could not succeed in deadening our hearts completely, he would entice us to pursue “less wild lovers”. Less wild than whom? The Lord, of course, is the wildest of lovers! Who but He would be able to thwart the schemes and devices so deftly laid? Who but He would provide a way of escape from what would seek to destroy us? Who but He would sacrifice Himself for us rather than accept our separation from Him eternally?
What “less wild lovers” would he use?
“Our adversary also seduces us to abide in certain emotions that act as less-wild lovers, particularly shame, fear, lust, anger, and false guilt. They are emotions that ‘protect’ us from the more dangerous feelings of grief, abandonment, disappointment, loneliness, and even joy and longing, that threaten to roam free in the wilder environs of the heart.” (Eldredge and Curtis in The Sacred Romance)
On the path to wholeheartedness as I recognized the battle for what it was, Eldredge would help me see another truth in Waking the Dead:
“You must remember that the Enemy is always trying to pull everyone else to do to you what he is doing to you. As I said earlier, he creates a kind of force field, a gravitational pull around you that draws others into the plot without their even knowing it.”
Discovering, learning, and accepting my story as part of His story that He fully intended to use for His glory, would equip me to listen more effectively to the stories of others and what healthier community would look like.
“…you must know each other’s stories, know how to ‘read’ each other. A word of encouragement can heal a wound; a choice to forgive can destroy a stronghold. You never knew your simple acts were so weighty. It’s what we’ve come to call ‘lifestyle warfare’.” (John Eldredge in Waking the Dead)
Learning those things brought more discernment and wisdom in those who became my comrades in arms for the daily journey. We stood for and with each other in the battle for our hearts. They too would be a part of the path to wholeheartedness.
Then in Sandra Wilson’s book, Into Abba’s Arms, I would have my heart stirred by the words she shared that she sensed the Lord speaking to her during times of journaling. As I read those intimate conversations she had with the Lord, my heart longed to have Him speak with me in such ways. Yes, He spoke to me through His Word, through the beauty of nature, through the messages of pastors and teachers, but I knew Sandra was experiencing something I had not known. My thirst was awakened for a different level of intimacy as I read the words she had ‘heard’ such as these:
“Your love is precious to me. You are precious to me. Learn to rest in the reality of my presence whether you are fainthearted or strong hearted. Keep listening to me. Keep coming to be with me in these quiet, special times.”
Yes, I had used a journal before and poured out thoughts, feelings, concerns, and prayers, but I had never taken moments to listen for or record His responses. To recognize that He had been waiting for me to listen for Him brought fresh rays of light to my heart. I knew at once why it was important to write down what I sensed because in the few times I sensed something from Him, it was not so easy to hold His words in my heart as time passed. One more scheme of the battle for my heart was evident in that.
And so it was that on a frosty January morning more than twenty years ago I would begin a new journal and write these words to Him:
“Sandra Wilson’s book—how inspiring and real! She’s right! We/I don’t take much time to listen to you and hear your personal words to my heart. Please, forgive me. I want to do better. Help me find my way through distractions into your arms.”
In the hushed moments of silence filled with uncertainty that He would respond, I would sense His response to me in the warmest and gentlest of words:
“I’m always waiting. I long to listen to you and hold you in my arms. You nurture others each day. Let me nurture you. I chose you. No one can pluck you out of my hand.”
With those words, the love story between us would change, as day after day I would return to my journal after my time in His Word and prayer. Year after year as the journals took up more space on my bookshelf, He would whisper His love, grace, and truth into my heart that would make it whole again and lead me to discover what He had created in me from the very beginning for His purposes and glory before all the other voices I had listened to had drowned out the only One who knew.