My heart is constantly restless with ambition.
There is no venture which I cannot conceive myself embarking on and mastering; indeed at some point I have entertained visions of being a rock star, a home builder, a preacher, an electrician, an evangelist, a mathematician, an entrepreneur, a professional golfer; and so on. I have imagined myself succeeding in hundreds of careers and engaged in countless activities and projects. This has been the case as long as I can remember, and at age 27, there shows no signs of letting up. I guess you could simply call me a dreamer.
Some say it is good to dream; “dream big!” they say, “follow your heart!”. More than ever before it seems that this is the mantra of our society, especially amongst the youth of today. But is this truly good advice? I have walked by that wisdom in the past, and as I recall, it only ever left me exactly where I started, but with less energy and more frustration. Perhaps it would have been different if my heart would stick to some destination instead of attaching itself to whatever new idea would come along. But then I would have had an even longer way back to the beginning, once I realized the path was just some rabbit trail.
No, it seems there is a problem with following your heart.
It’s the heart.
Jeremiah 17:9 sums it up well: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure, who can understand it?
I was reminded today of some of the rabbit trails my heart has taken me down in the past, which is why I felt compelled to write on this topic. An active member of OCRemix.org, the video game remix website I have been in love with for years, commented to me on Facebook. He informed me that he had recently submitted a song he had remixed to the website, one that I had contributed vocals for. Though I haven’t been active in that community for ages it seems, there was a time when I aspired to become something big there, a regular remix contributor whose music would be appreciated and recognized. It was something I had desired for years.
It was also something I had let go of.
Apparently one facebook comment is all my heart needs to take off down that old beaten path toward a golden future of video game remix fame and admiration. I was a lot further along in that train of though than I should have been by the time I recognized what was happening to me.
What was that word? Deceitful? Yes, I do believe that about says it.
That’s not all though; The next phrase is equally inditing: Who can understand it? That is rhetorical; nobody can understand the heart, save but the God before whose eyes all things are laid bare (Heb 4:13).
There are some powerful implications to this statement, the primary one being that believers should at all times be skeptical of their motives and desires; they should be under the most rigorous scrutiny at all times. The only one who can pronounce motives and desires pure with any authority is God himself, and until one has submitted to his judgement and received his approval, impurity must be assumed. If we care about the truth, this is the only way we can approach our heart.
Jeremiah 17:9 is precisely the reason that David cries out in Psalm 139 “Search me, O God, and know my heart”. It is the very same reason that Paul says to the Corinthians that though he knew nothing against himself, he was not by that fact acquitted or justified. His own self assessment was of no value whatsoever, so he looked to God and waited for his approval instead.
We would do well to follow his example. We’ll be less familiar with rabbit trails and further along the straight and narrow if we do.