Reflections On Following My Heart

Published February 1, 2016 by

Reflections On Following My Heart
by Dave Baker

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

God is who He is, not what we wish, imagine, or try to make Him be. His Son, Jesus Christ, is the ultimate supreme fact. His life, story, and unimaginable sacrifice makes it evident that our natural impulsiveness needs Calvary-like discipline. Perhaps the innkeeper paid dearly for housing the Son of God. Should it not be costly to penetrate and portray this pain?

How I navigate my problems, both past and present is to recognize that my biggest difficulties are heart problems. They often fester because I begin to follow my heart’s direction rather than direct my heart. So I have found it a mental and spiritual salvation to learn the skill to “be wise, and direct your heart in the way” (Prov. 23:19).

God considered David a man after his own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). Stephen gave us insight into what God meant: “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22). What qualified David to be king was that he followed God’s heart. And when he did, he did very well.

When David didn’t follow God’s heart he suffered deeply. When David followed his own heart he was on his way to slaughter Nabal and his household, and only Abigail’s quick thinking and wise intercession saved David from sinful blood shed (1 Sam. 25:32–34).

When David followed his own heart, he slept with Bathsheba, robbing her of her marital chastity and Uriah of his bride and life (2 Sam. 11), and brought devastating evil into his own family (2 Samuel 12).

When David followed his own heart, he took a census that God had forbidden to take and it resulted in seventy thousand deaths (1 Chronicles 21).

Further examples warn us not to follow our hearts. When Moses followed his heart, he killed an Egyptian (Ex. 2:12) and faithlessly struck the rock (Num. 20:10–12). When Balaam followed his heart, he was rebuked by a donkey (Num. 22:30). When Nebuchadnezzar followed his heart, he ended up eating grass like an ox (Dan. 4:32). When Haman followed his heart, he ended up hanging from the gallows he himself had built (Est. 7:10). When the disciples followed their hearts, they argued over who was the greatest (Luke 9:46) and in terror abandoned Jesus in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:56). When Ananias and Sapphira followed their hearts, they lied to the Holy Spirit and dropped dead (Acts 5:1–11).

The Bible is clear: we must follow God’s heart, not ours. Today, following God’s heart means to follow Jesus, which means dying to the desires of our weak, deceptive, fallen hearts’ and losing our lives in order to find them (Matt. 16:24–25).

My prayer for family and myself is that it would be our desire to follow Jesus by resisting our heart’s errant preferences and directing it to do all God’s will. I hope to explore the Word to learn what God says in order for me to spiritually recalibrate my mind and heart. I have never found it an easy task to follow my Lord’s heart and will. Because sin contaminates my heart, often his ways are nowhere near my ways (Isa. 55:9). Jesus frequently leads me down paths that look strange and sometimes plain wrong (Isa. 55:8). My prayer is that this study time will guide me during time when life’s path seems dark (Ps. 119:105).

“Follow your heart” is a very popular creed embraced by billions of people. It’s a gospel proclaimed in many of our stories, movies, and songs and fundamentally a faith statement of cultural myths of the world.

It’s a belief that our heart is an internal compass that will keep us pointed true north—a true guide that will lead us to true happiness if we just have the courage to follow it. This creed preaches that we are lost and our heart will save us. It sounds so simple, beautiful, and liberating, and for those without Christ it’s a tempting gospel substitution.

As God has dealt with me over the years and as I have guided numerous souls it seems that every human heart is socially challenged. When I review my thought for today, many I do not wish to repeat. My heart tells me that all of reality ought to serve my desires. My heart likes to think the best of me and worst of others, unless those others happen to think well of me and like I think, then those are wonderful friends. But if they don’t esteem me, or if they disagree with me, well then, something must be wrong with them. While my heart is pondering my virtues and errors of others, it suddenly can find some immoral or horribly angry thought very justified.

I have not been able to find any biblical reference to the idea of “following my heart”. The Bible actually thinks my heart is diseased, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Jesus, the great physician, lists the grim symptoms of this disease: “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19). This is not leadership material.

If this is true then I must conclude that, no one lies to me more than my own heart. It will not tell me the truth; but only what I want to hear, and is pathologically egotistic. In fact, if I do what my heart tells me to do, I will pervert and ruin every desire, beauty, person, wonder, and every joy. My heart wants all the self-glory and self-indulgence.

No, my heart will not save me. Rather I need to be saved from my heart.

My heart was never created to be the leader, but to be led. My heart was never designed to be believed in; I was created to believe and trust only in God.

When I follow my heart, it always leads me to the prison of a narcissistic misery and ultimately deep emotional suffering. My heart cannot be trusted, because what is wrong with my heart is the heart of our problem. If my heart believes in God, as it was originally designed to, then God saves us (Heb. 7:25) and leads my heart to exceeding joy (Ps. 43:4).

Therefore, I won’t believe in my heart; but direct my heart to believe in God. I will not follow my heart; but rather I will seek to follow Jesus. I must remember that Jesus did not command his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled, just believe in your hearts.” He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1).

However, like a spoiled child, my heart daily cries to shepherd my life, I will not follow it. My heart is not a shepherd; sadly, it often reveals a stubborn self-willed sheep. A heart that has the stain and residue of sin, that likes to raise its wolf-like qualities. I won’t follow it, and I pray I would never listen to it.

I must remember that my heart only tells me what I want, not where I should go. So I will listen and take note of what my heart says about what I want, and then take my felt wants, both good and evil, to Jesus as requests and confessions.

Jesus is my shepherd (Ps. 23:1; John 10:14). I must listen to his voice from his word and follow him (John 10:27). Besides God’s precious Word, many of the old hymns soothe the storm of my raging heart. Songs like the words of an old faithful Irish hymn, “Be Thou My Vision”. He is my truth, He is my way, and He will lead me to life (John 14:6).

Be Thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my wisdom and Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one

High King of Heaven my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys, oh, bright heaven’s sun
Heart of my own heart whatever befall
Still be my vision, oh Ruler of all

Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art

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