We all have times when we feel down. Depression hits without warning apparently, and we can be left feeling drained and hollow by the circumstances we find ourselves enveloped by.
The real issue, however, is where we draw our strength fom on a daily basis. What do we treasure most?
The Bible teaches us “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”(Proverbs 4:23) This is a particularly true statement. We give our hearts over to all kind of things during the time we have. As young men and women, it is often to a partner. Our whole being becomes wrapped up in that individual, and if the relationship breaks down we are left feeling desolate. Many teen suicides are attributed to this.
As adults we are not exempt from this folly. We put our hearts into getting the corner office or the house with the pool or the Ferrari, then Bob, the 29 year-old newbie gets the promotion, the pool is cracked or the car is stolen and we are left feeling cheated and forgotten. Our hearts get crushed, bruised and beaten.
Sometimes we build our hearts on the hopes we have made for ourselves, hopes and dreams like children or continued health. Then the news comes: “I’m sorry but it looks like you’ll never have kids” or “It’s cancer”, and we are devastated because that’s where our hearts are.
We also find irrelevant issues all consuming because of where our hearts lie. I know people who can tell you the names of every player who has put on a Manchester United shirt and kicked a ball in the last 40 years, but can’t tell you what their children’s favourite food is. The focus of our heart is what will determine the kind of men and women we become. If we focus on the irrelevant then we can never be relevant ourselves to the people who matter.
One of my personal favourite teachers, Andrew Wommack, can quote hundreds, even thousands of scriptures from memory. His heart is focussed on what matters, and this is demonstrated by his expression of his faith, the way he talks of his family and the way he relates to others. I had the priviledge many years ago of meeting him a few times and chatting to him. He struck me then as a man who has a simple faith, uncluttered by caring about people’s opinions. “Only Christ matters” was the message I got from the conversations I had with him over a few days in 1997 at a bible week in England. He, Dave Duell and a few others were real and present. They had hearts which radiated love. A wellspring of life which was clearly not their own but was fuelled by something far greater than a mere man could hope to have in his own strength.
This may seem like a shameless advert for these teachers, but it is intended to be an example. I hope that one day people will see that same love and commitment in me, and in you. There is something powerful in a guarded heart. The life in it is not our own, rather it is given to us by a God who sees what we are in ourselves and loves us anyway. He places His own Spirit in us to guide us and speaks to us through our hearts daily if we will only listen.
“Today, if you will hear His voice, Harden not your hearts” (Psalm 95:7b-8a) If we will hear His voice. If we are going to hear God speaking to us, we must keep our hearts fixed on Him. King David understood this and kept his heart inclined towards God so that even after he had tried to hide his sin with Bathsheba he was sensitive enough to God that when the Prophet came to him he immediately repented and humbled himself before God.
We must guard our heart today. There is so much in this world that seeks to depress and destroy our life, but the Good News is “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
God is for us, and with that as the food for our heart we can live with a wellspring of life in our core being at all times, anduring the light afflictions of this world and moving beyond them by keeping an eternal perspective.