With Love Column
by ANNIE WESCHE
While working away on the day’s projects, my eyes drifted up from my computer screen and landed on a framed photo on the wall. Suddenly, an unexpected ache rose up inside me. Deep, unfulfilled longings in my heart came flooding to the surface, bringing with them a swell of emotions and fears about the future. I quickly and silently responded to the Lord with an urgency I knew was needful for my soul.
I give this ache to You, Jesus.
It was a simple prayer, but uttering those words immediately reminded me that my life and heart are His, that He is worthy of receiving the desires of my heart, that they matter to Him, and that they are safe in His keeping.
Right away His peace embraced me, and the rising fears were quieted by confidence in Him. That simple and swift response powerfully redirected my heart. My gaze shifted from what I did not have, to what I do have, richly, with Jesus. And rather than burying or denying the longings of my heart, I had freshly handed them to the One able to care for and fulfill them.
That unexpected, yet significant moment in my day was a mini crossroad for my heart. In one direction, I could follow after fear, anxiety, and discontent. Or I could choose to respond in the way of truth and move towards Jesus where there was reassurance, hope, and peace.
I’ve been increasingly more aware of these important “crossroad moments” all throughout the halt and flow of our daily lives. Last year was a heavier one where stresses pressed, sickness lingered, uncertainties came, and bait for anxiety abounded. And throughout it all, I sensed that God’s gentle mercy was patiently schooling me in the power of my responses.
Whether great or small, the responses of my heart to the hard things I faced made a world of difference in the measure of strength and peace I had to walk through them. And although there have been many moments where I’ve followed briefly after anxiety and fear, I have been growing in the grace to stop that course and turn my heart quickly back toward Jesus in the way of truth and faith.
My father has heroically modeled quick responses of faith, and I’ve been deeply impacted bearing witness to them. While enduring a long season of sickness and at a time of tremendous physical suffering, he quietly responded, “Christ learned obedience through what He suffered, and as God is allowing me to walk through this, I know that I too can learn obedience to Him through it.” (See Hebrews 5:8.) As he said it, I sensed both of our hearts being reassured by the purposes and goodness of God, even in times of great suffering.
When we received shocking news about our housing situation, after a brief pause, my father quickly said aloud, “Lord, we thank You for this trial and these seemingly impossible circumstances! We don’t yet know what we will do, but we know You will help us.” It was clear that he desired to direct both of our hearts, before a moment of fear or despair could arise, to immediately and obediently set our trust on the Lord who would care for us. And his swift response of faith gave a rallying power to our souls — not only to resist anxiety, but to actually stir excitement within us for what God was going to do!
Lately, I’ve become more attentive to the power of responses in the Word as well. When the young shepherd boy David heard the giant Philistine mocking the living God and saw that there was no one else willing to stand against him, he stepped forward to go on behalf of Israel and fight Goliath. In the face of doubt and discouragement from others, David responded with confidence in God, “The Lord … He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And when Goliath towered over him and hurled fearsome threats, David quickly responded, “I come to you in the name of the Lord … the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (See 1 Samuel 17:32–47.)
The response of our heart matters greatly. Above all, because God is worthy of a response that is glorifying to Him. But also for our own good. In things both great and small our responses will lead us down the way of darkness or light, despair or hope, anxiety or peace, selfishness or surrender, defeat or triumph.
Our heart’s response is going to come from what we have allowed into our heart — which prompts a needful and sober self-examination of what we are meditating upon in our day-to-day. The Word urges us in Proverbs 4:23 to see the tremendous seriousness and weight of what we allow in, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV, emphasis added).
Is my heart filled up with what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praiseworthy? Or … am I allowing things into my heart and mind that are influencing worldly responses? Am I fearing the things of this fallen world more than I trust in the power of my mighty, overcoming God? Am I filling up my mind with worldly entertainment laden with the very things that oppose the Word of God and dishonor my beloved Christ’s sacrifice? Am I looking to my own abilities and strength, rather than leaning upon the supply of Christ to enable me in what I am called to do?
In repentance, with obedience and trust, we can immediately turn from our harmful trajectory and instead walk in the way of righteousness and truth. And by turning to the Word of God, we can cleanse and renew our minds and fill our hearts up with the knowledge of God — what an astounding and staggering gift!
Psalm 15:2 says that the one who “…speaks the truth in His heart” will “…never be moved” (v.5) or as some versions translate “never be shaken.” The truth of the Lord is a sure foundation for our heart as we walk through life’s mountains, valleys, sunlight, and storms. As we train our hearts to quickly respond in faith at the crossroad moments both great and small, let us pray with the Psalmist, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14 NIV). And may we experience the surpassing peace, joy, freedom, and strength that come from a heart ever-moving towards Jesus.