with all my heart.

with all my heart.

I have been feeling quite chaotic in the past few weeks. There’s nothing particularly that has happened to trigger this inner chaos. How can I describe it? Perhaps a restlessness in my soul, and yearning for something more. I’m easily distracted, bored, occasionally fractious.

I wrote the last piece about rest, and this feels different from the need to rest. God is so kind and loving, extending his peace and rest to me in this last week when I felt so burdened and broken. And yet now, there’s this sense that there is something God is dealing with.

This morning I asked him finally what all of this inner chaos is about, what He’s trying to say.

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:34-40

ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your mind.

He’s uncovering my divided heart.

He’s showing me the many ways I find validation in relationships. He’s showing me the habitual way I have learnt to relate to people so that I feel needed by them. He’s showing me the ways my heart yearns for desires that go unchecked and I don’t bring them before him, but grip on to them so tightly. But they only brought bitterness. He showed me that I crave for recognition and I have so much pride. Even in my occasional self-deprecating ways, pride drives so much of what I do.

“Just give me Jesus” — This song by Unspoken Music captures the desire of my heart. But at the same time, I’m so aware of the many other things I want and I go after instead of coming to the Father and enjoying His love.

Psalm 119 (the most epic of the psalms) repeats ‘all of my heart’ or ‘my whole heart’. Here are just some of the verses:

Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
    but walk in his ways!
v 2-3

With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
v 10

Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
    and observe it with my whole heart.
v 34

I entreat your favor with all my heart;
    be gracious to me according to your promise.
v 58

The insolent smear me with lies,
    but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
v 69

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
    I will keep your statutes.
v 145

All of these, I believe, flow from the promises given to the people in the Old Testament.

‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

“But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29

Wow, it’s incredible to see how many promises God gives to His people when they turn to seek Him with all their hearts. God showed me today that when he wants us, He wants our whole hearts. All of us. There is no more worthy an offering than to give up our whole hearts.

Perhaps in my cries for God to breakthrough in circumstances in my life, or that I say I don’t feel Him, or I can’t hear from the Holy Spirit. Maybe it is actually because in my divided heart, I don’t actually seek Him. I ask for Him, but I don’t look, I don’t drop everything I come back to God to look for Him.

Ahh, so much of me is divided. My attention is turned towards so many things, my loves directed towards other people & to myself. The beautiful thing is that God already knows. When He spoke to me today, it was like a child coming to the Father crying about how silly she had been for not listening. Instead of accusation or an “I told you so”, He opened His arms wide and embraced me as I laid bare all the chaos in my heart, all the frustration at my own divided-ness.

Jesus prayed for us:

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
John 17:22-23

Speaking about the unity in the church, I received it today as an intercession for my heart (our hearts) to be one, to be united to fear Him and love Him (Psalm 86:11-12). Just as Father, Son & Holy Spirit are one, help us to be wholeheartedly in Jesus.

Wow, Lord. Thank you that You are before all things, and in you all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). Where our hearts are divided, we ask that in your Holy Spirit you will unite our hearts towards you. It is our deep desire to worship and love you, help us to wholeheartedly. Thank you that you do not condemn us, but extend your grace to us in all our chaos. Help us to want to seek you wholeheartedly. And when we do, we know you are faithful, and we will find you. Transform our hearts Lord.

The heart of the matter

The heart of the matter

S.A.F.E – Seated, Awake, Focused & Engaged.

This is the acronym used in my school as an expectation of students’ behaviour in class. Behaviour is such an important reflection of a person. We are often told to judge people not by their appearance, and so we discern them by their behaviour. How they speak, how they act towards others.

As a teacher, I was in the business of controlling students’ behaviour. And I prided myself in being able to ‘solve’ behavioural issues. Sadly, I find myself trying to change the behaviour of myself and of others in my personal life. Some of these thoughts seem a little like this:

  • I need to eat fewer sweets so I don’t feel so horrible all the time.
  • I should stop harping on the negative thoughts, and try and be thankful.
  • I should read the bible more
  • Worry less about money and trust God more!
  • You should try to rest more
  • Just stop trying to do so much!

We all know these thoughts or have told ourselves or others these things before. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this right? Afterall, I want to improve myself, and I love the people around me so I want to offer advice for how I/they can behave differently.

Perhaps you could think about a few habits, patterns of thought, actions that you know are not edifying, or not what God has intended for you. Maybe you are struggling with uncontrollable anger, or deep depression. Maybe you are standing alongside some people who are facing some of these issues.

But that crippling sense of failure when I can’t change my behaviour, or the anger that I feel when I can’t ‘be more thankful’ or the frustration at others when they can’t just ‘get their act together’ leaves me feeling so helpless, so confused, so despondent.

In Singapore (possibly Asia), we focus a lot on the actions. We expect respect from younger people, there are certain said or unsaid rules about behaviour, we generally expect people to follow a certain progression of actions in life – study, graduate, find job, find partner, find house, get married, have kids, work, retire, holiday. This is a gross generalisation but I think to some degree, we can sense an expectation of behaviour, and when people don’t behave in a certain way we are disturbed.

I want us to stop for a moment to give this a little more thought. What if we dug a little deeper? What if actions are merely the little bit of the iceberg prodding out from the surface of the water, and there is a gigantic chunk of ice beneath it? What if we pushed past the facades and got to the heart of the issues?

We often refer to the heart as emotions and feeling. But in the Bible, the heart is ‘a person’s centre for both physical and emotional-intellectual-moral activities.’ In other words, it extends beyond just feelings but often to what is perhaps less accessible, less seen. Your actions are visible to others, but your heart, thoughts, feelings, intentions, these are hidden.

So much of what we do is driven by the invisible. The need for survival, the anxiety of being unliked, the excitement of pursuing your passion.

It is unfortunate that we often try to control the behaviour of others or ourselves without pushing past to get to the heart of it. So much healing and transformation can take place if the root of it is addressed.

But what can we do, if all we really have access to is the external, the physical existence?

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”

— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:6-13

What a relief to hear that the Holy Spirit has the power to search the hearts of man, and to give revelation about what are some of the roots beneath our own actions or patterns of thinking.

Honestly, I’m still learning to not react to people’s actions, but to ask God why and what is going on in their hearts so I can be a better listener, and to love them better.

Just to share my personal journey. I found that I hesitate when people say ‘you are beautiful’ or ‘you are so amazing’. I find that I cannot fully receive these words. At first, it seemed like nothing much, maybe I’m just modest or perhaps it’s just an Asian humility. But the Holy Spirit revealed to me about my heart.

I didn’t believe that I deserved to be loved. I find it hard to believe that I’m valued or important.

‘I mean, that’s just ridiculous’ – I told God. Of course, I know people loved me, of course, I knew Jesus loved me. I knew, but I did not receive it in my heart. The years of putting up a guard, a wall, a callous layer around my heart to protect it meant that it is so hard to receive anything other than what I have taught myself to believe.

Heart work is hard work. It requires so much vulnerability, to lower those guards to allow yourself to feel what you have numbed for so long. It is a frightening thing, to look at the pain head-on, and acknowledge that you’ve been hurt by those incidents, those words. To go back to that place of pain again to allow God to heal and to receive/release forgiveness.

Hallelujah that God is a LOVING father, who is gentle as He is strong. He gently nudges us to that place of vulnerability, and when we allow Him, He moves towards us and heals those painful places. And when we allow Him to work in and on our hearts, we find that we are no longer chained to the pain. We find that we can love a little better, we can receive goodness a little better, we can be joyful a little better.

I found the roots, the heart of my inability to receive, and I asked God to work on that, to heal my past hurts and disappointment. To release forgiveness and to ask for forgiveness for the harmful things I do to myself. And I actively pursue God’s love for me. Again and again, I speaking over myself these words

But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1

A wise lady said to me, ‘keep speaking these truth, marinate yourself in it. Years even, because it is not long compared to the years you have lived in the lies’.

I come back to my inclinations to alter people’s behaviour. When I remember the work that God has to do in and on my heart, that the Holy Spirit can change the heart, I remind myself of two things.

1.to never despair/give up on others.
2. Pray pray and pray in my helpless to change people – it’s not me, it will never be me. It is only by the Holy Spirit that hearts can be changed.

My prayer for you is simple: that you will know that you don’t have to live in fear or in pain – let go of the guards you put up and come before Him vulnerable. He will love you and heal you and there will be so much joy waiting for you.

If you have friends/family that you are helpless about, I want to encourage you to pray pray pray! Ask God for a change of heart, ask the Lord to soften their hearts and then watch and see transformation take place!