The Weight of Chains (Part 1)

When I start writing on topics like this at first I am really excited. I have all of these words and thoughts and feelings tumbling around in my head that just can’t wait to pour out on a fresh white screen.

I start typing and words start flowing. But before I realize what’s happening, my thoughts have gone into 32 different directions. I get lost trying to follow each trail of thought. My eyes start hurting from squinting at the now cluttered screen, so I close them and close the computer, determined to try again tomorrow.

And I do. But now 50 some tomorrow’s have come and gone and I’m still hopping from trail to trail like a little bunny rabbit. I want to get it right. No, perfect. And because that is an impossibility that will never happen, I never finish. My thoughts stay locked up in a muddled mess in a little folder on my computer.

Well, I’ve decided to do some spring cleaning (a couple months late).  I’m kinda tired of having little folders like that cluttering up things. So here we go. It may be a little unfiltered. You may have to step over some briars and thorns as you walk along my trail. But hopefully you will be able to see through to my heart and what I’m really trying to say. And maybe I’ll figure it out too along the way.

This is a topic very close to my heart. It’s personal. I’ve had experience where this is concerned. I’ve learned a lot of things along the way and am still walking this long road.

It’s a hard topic to discuss. People get offended and get their feathers ruffled. There’s a lot at stake here.

What if I am? What if you are?

No one wants to admit that they are legalistic. That’s not really something nice to be identified with.

There is a lot of fear tied up with that word. Fear that we really might be. Fear that someone might think that about me. But mostly fear is what motivates our being legalistic. And how do you overcome that? 

I think it’s important before we ever explore a topic like this, to first truly explore our own hearts. I don’t want anyone to feel the heat of my pointed finger in their face. Because, believe me, the rest of the four are stabbing me hard in the chest.

Our hearts represent our true person and reveals so much about us. But to be honest, I’d rather not explore that dark cave. It’s too scary, sometimes dirty and going there can make me feel isolated, cold and alone. But I must. I must enter that dark heart-cave, I must explore the caverns and crevices. Otherwise, how will I know?  

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

I’d rather not believe that. It doesn’t necessarily conjure up nice feelings to think about the fact that I’m beyond cure. I mean, where are we supposed to go from there? There is no recovering from that.

The next verse says, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind…”

I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or worse.
 
Proverbs 4:23 tells us that the heart is the wellspring of life and that above all else, we must guard it.
 
One definition describes wellspring as, “A continuous, seemingly inexhaustible source or supply of something.”
 
It’s where it is, people. And I mean everything.
 
Glancing in my concordance at the back of my Bible I’m amazed at how many references to the ‘heart’ there is. It would be impossible to list each one. But here is a little recap of what God says about our hearts…
 
Our hearts can be::
 
hardened, prompted, opened, unified, cut, circumcised, uncircumcised, changed, made pure, examined, stirred, broken, contrite, undivided, divided, upright, joyful, thankful, bitter, jealous, wounded, steadfast, secure, set free, wise, sick, at peace, happy, good medicine, anxious, given, hasty, stolen, awakened, sealed, calloused, carried close, revived, washed, deceitful, a fire, luke warm, focused, confused, lost, new, glad, pure, impure, gentle, humble, laid bare, encouraged, sincere, enlightened, set, refreshed, senseless, faithless, faithful, willing, poured out, searched, far away from God, written on, known by God, troubled, ruled by peace, guarded, set on things above, grateful, sprinkled, cleansed of a guilty conscience…
 
They Can::
 
hate, murder, serve, love, observe, turn away, look for God, hold a grudge, obey, know with all of itself, be glad, meditate, receive, hold God’s law, hold secrets, hold wisdom, cherish sin, fail, extol the Lord, deceive, seek, hide God’s word, cry out, keep commands, ache even in laughter, guide the mouth, stay on the right path, love, pound, rejoice, know God, produce evil thoughts, forgive, doubt, waver, ponder, believe, anguish, grieve, make music, do the will of God, work at it, have thoughts and attitudes, yield, crush another heart, hold eternity in, burn, make room, condemn us…

Our hearts are powerful. And it is more than just an organ that pumps blood and gives life. It is the wellspring that all of our soul-being comes from. Our thoughts, feelings, motives, decisions and so much more that I will never understand.

That is the part that scares me. I will never truly comprehend even my own heart.

Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Knowing the true contents of our hearts is only a God-size job.

We may think we know something about it.  But we must be careful. Because we’re probably fooling ourselves. We are never as good as we think.

Maybe you are like me. And right now I might be tempted to let my heart give up. I am so thankful for Scripture in moments like these. Especially this one.

1John 3:19-20
This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

For all you Bible scholars out there, yes, this passage is definitely dealing with more than just feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. (Bless our hearts) But for all our hearts sake, no matter where we are in our walks with God, I think it’s safe to say, that God is most definitely greater than our hearts… and what they are capable or incapable of.

That sure makes me feel better and is quite a good note to end on for today. I hope to come back to this topic soon. It appears life may be slowing down a little to make that possible with school and baseball ending. But I don’t want to say that too loud!

When we do come back to it, I’d like to look at what legalism is and is not. And to see what it may look like in our personal lives (and by that I mean sharing what it looks like in my own). And I really hope not to get lost along the way of this tricky subject. The roads can twist and turn quite a bit and I wouldn’t want to lose anyone (myself included) to motion sickness!

Come back if you so dare!

 

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