Monday, January 28, 2013

In the middle of guarding

 
"Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life." NLT

"Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life." ESV
Proverbs 4:23
 
I have a confession to make. One that won’t come as a surprise to those who know me: I have been an overtly social, hyperactive, talkative busybody since my preschool days. I have spent a lifetime building and maintaining relationships with so many people from so many different places and seasons of my life. As I began to experience newfound freedom in Christ and walls of shame were torn down, it was the first time in my life that I felt as though I had nothing to hide, no gaping holes to cover. Perhaps it was because I felt I had nothing to hide that I felt so comfortable – and so compelled – to simply share everything. All of me.
 
Dr. Phil once said that, “People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing”. I’m just now beginning to understand that he didn’t necessarily mean “share everything” and “guard nothing”…. hiding and guarding are two completely different concepts. One pertains to dishonesty or shame while the other pertains to life lesson five hundred and thirty-two that I’m learning late: discretion. It’s part of my personality, this struggle with moderation. I am an “all or nothing” kind of person, never having learned that what bridges the gap between all or nothing is that simple concept of discretion; and of guarding my heart.
 
The greek word for “guard” is a military term, signifying a sentinel who keeps guard over a castle or camp, or a well-garrisoned stronghold. In recent weeks this verse has taken on new meaning in my life. I’ve always considered the process of guarding my heart to be a singular, one-sided, spiritual objective: to keep things out, a boundary of protection. To not allow anything or anyone to replace my love relationship with the Lord – something that has occurred more than once in my life. But as I began to think about myself as a sentinel or guard at the gate of my own heart, I began to realize that unlike those royal guards who are unwavering, standing still and silent as statues at the gates, I hadn’t considered the seriousness of the task at hand. I have given access to my heart not only to those whom have asked, but anyone who stops by to peer inside the gates.  As a result, my life was filled with toxic relationships that were poison to my soul - and my walk with the Lord. 
 
His word tells us that when we leave our hearts unguarded, we lose all sense of self-control.  And...
 
“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” ~ Proverbs 25:28
 

Without self-control, the walls around our hearts - and our spiritual lives - are broken down, allowing anyone and anything to pass through, without boundaries.

I’m not saying we need to live with our lives closed off, but I am saying that there is a holy balance that we must desire as we stand guard at the gates of our hearts. A balance that requires us, like the sentinel, to stand watch over all that enters – and all that flows out. 
 
We must choose wisely those whom we let in and guard with intensity against those that must be kept out. 
 
Our church is in it’s semi-annual 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. This is my third year to be a part of it, and yet it is my very first year to see it through each day with consistency – to completion (tomorrow is the last day). You see, I hadn’t learned to guard this time with the fierce loyalty required. I allowed other things, and more specifically - other people, to distract me. I would begin strong, standing firm and invariably, be led away.  I repeatedly allowed my relationship wtih Christ to be derailed.  My heart, for the most part, was unguarded.
 
 The Lord has taught me, and is still teaching me, the truth – and the beauty – of this scripture; of what it means to stand guard at the gate of my heart, by His strength and not my own. I am a sentinel in training, clothed in the very armor of God, holding tightly to the shield of my faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is His word (Ephesians 6:16-17).
 
Can I encourage you this morning to dress in His armor, to clothe yourself in His righteousness, and stand guard at the gate of your heart, for it is prone to wander.
 
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
 
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing lyrics
 
original version published at

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