Have you ever found yourself in a space where you are feeling disappointed, angry, and ready to quit. If so, you have probably used the phrase……”I think I have lost heart”.
That experience, my guess, wouldn’t be a one off. Over many years I have experienced many an assault on my heart such as that. On reflection, I have catalogued almost twenty distinct situations where I was ready to quit and throw in the towel. In fact, as I have grown older, the conflict has intensified. This is why, I think, as chaplains as we do “kingdom business” we must be diligent to guard our hearts.
King Solomon said it best: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
This is necessary for at least three reasons:
1. Because your heart is extremely valuable: We don’t guard worthless things. I take my rubbish to the street every Tuesday night. It is picked up on Wednesday morning. It sits on the edge of the gutter all night, completely unguarded. Why? Because it is worthless. Not so with your heart. It is the essence of who you are. It is your authentic self—the core of your being. It is where all your dreams, your desires, and your passions live. It is that part of you that connects with God and other people. Just like your physical body, if your heart—your spiritual heart—dies, your chaplaincy dies. This is why Solomon says, “Above all else.” He doesn’t say, “If you get around to it” or “It would be nice if.” No, he says, make it your top priority.
2. Because your heart is the source of everything you do: King Solomon says it is the “wellspring of life.” In other words, it is the source of everything else in your life. Your heart overflows into thoughts, words, and actions. In Australia, there are a number of natural springs, where water flows to the surface of the earth from deep under the ground. It then accumulates in pools or runs off into creeks and streams. If you plug up the spring, you stop the flow of water. If you poison the water, the flow becomes toxic. In either situation, you threaten life downstream. Everything depends on the condition of the spring. Likewise, if your heart is unhealthy, it has an impact on everything else. It threatens your family, your friends, your ministry, your career, and, indeed, your legacy. It is, therefore, imperative that you guard it.
3. Because your heart is under constant attack: When Solomon says to guard your heart, he implies that you are living in a combat zone—one in which there are casualties. Many of us are oblivious to the reality of this war. We have an enemy who is bent on our destruction. He not only opposes God, but he opposes everything that is aligned with Him—including us.
May you be diligent as you “do life” for Christ, guarding your heart so that you can share your heart with those in prison each week.