The following quote is part of a Franciscan benediction that I recently read in an amazing book by Craig Groescel called “It” (A book I believe every pastor or ministry leader should read.)
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and the exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, and starvation, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
While this entire benediction should be made into a daily prayer we pray over ourselves, the line that struck me the most was, “May God bless you with discomfort…so that you may live deep within your heart.”
You see except for recent years I had spent most of my life ignoring, burying and ultimately trying to kill my heart. I thought desire was bad, for if I let myself feel desire it would lead to selfishness and lust. I ignored the pain and injustice that I and others suffered, for if I let myself feel them it might cause me to become angry and bitter. Avoidance was my defense mechanism of choice. I felt little pain, because I was so disconnected from my heart. It had been so long since I had truly examined what was inside it, I had no idea what God had placed in there or what I truly felt. Such a tragedy to live so disconnected from one's own heart. Our spiritual enemy loves to get us to kill or disconnect from our hearts. God places His plans and purposes for us deep within our hearts, we hear God’s voice speaking to us within our hearts, and the passion necessary to fulfill God’s purposes upon earth come from within our hearts. Thus we must let the Spirit in, and let Him bring our hearts fully alive before we can ever expect to live “deep within our hearts.”
When God began to open up my heart, my Spiritual life quickly experienced some dramatic changes. Once I began to locate my heart, religious things lost all there appeal, but the true things of the Spirit began to draw me like ants are drawn to a picnic. I also experienced true grace for the first time. God’s grace came pouring in on me and buried the law that had held my heart captive to fear and condemnation. (Romans 8:1-2) The more my heart is healed and set free the more I can look past my own pain and needs and begin to feel the pain and injustice that others suffer, care about the hurting and broken ones around me, and care about building God’s Kingdom verses my own.
I am still a long ways from “living deep within my heart.” Or better put, I am still a long way from living deep within “God's” heart. I can’t however live out of God’s heart until I truly “know” what His heart is. And that is surely what we need, to have our heart become like Jesus’ heart. We may know intellectually what the scripture says God’s heart is, but we don’t really “know” or “feel” His heart beating within us. For this to become reality, we must begin to do as pastor D. often encourages us, “Pray that God will show us His heart.” We also need to pray that God will help us fully locate our heart and bring it fully alive. We would surely be surprised at all the treasures that are buried there. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Pro. 4:23
I have taken on the challenge that Groescel puts forth in his “It” book; to daily pray these three dangerous prayers, and I encourage you to do the same. Ask God to:
1. Stretch you. (Pray that God will take you out of your comfort zone)
2. Ruin you. (Let God ruin you for the ordinary. Feel His purposes. Expose yourself to something that will move you. Don’t shrink back. Give in to your heart. Feed the hurt. Let it grow. Let it bother you. Invite it to overtake you.)
3. Heal you. (Let God into your heart and let Him expose and heal your brokenness)
Living deep within our hearts will drive us to our knees before a Holy God. It will mean feeling pain and heart ache over the brokenness that we see all around us. It will give us a tearful burden for those who don’t yet know Jesus. It will cause us sleepless nights as we anguish over our own sin and selfishness, as well as over the sins of our nation. It will cause us righteous anger over starvation, oppression, and injustice that others suffer. It just might mean being ruined forever for the ordinary. Living deep from within our hearts will cause us to love enough to believe for the impossible, and then step out and begin to do that which can’t be done without the supernatural.
“Come close to God and He will come close to you. [recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery]. [As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over your disloyalty]. Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sin]. Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and he will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant] .” James 4:8-10 Amp