Meditations of the Heart
One of the board members for Restore Life, the organization I lead, recently turned me on to a book she loved by Howard Thurman called “Meditations of the Heart.” I’ve been reading it in the early morning watch as this new year gets started, and God has been using it to speak wonderful things to me… I would be a fool not to share these things with those I love and pray for, and anyone else who might be following our journey from afar.
Pastor Thurman writes:
“This book is addressed to some of the deep insistent needs of the human spirit which needs know no age climate culture or group. They are needs that are universal and in which all men share. Its purpose is to focus the mind and the heart upon God as the eternal source and goal of life. Where-ever they seem stumbling, weak and stammering, understand that they are the utterances of one who sees through “a glass darkly.” -Page 13
In section one Thurman writes about an island of peace in the soul. In the secret place, we meet God and can be honest about everything. No faking, only honest acknowledgment of all our loves, hates and fears. We can not really get into the temple, deep in the center of the Island, unless that is happening. If we hide from ourselves we hide from God. When we are not honest about the reality of what we are thinking, feeling, longing for and actually doing with our lives, then we can not really connect with God and hear from Him. At least not the true God. This silent time on the Island of peace in the presence of God brings true self-examination, true confession of sin and true reception of the forgiveness abounding through God’s love and grace. This can’t help but lead to humble gratefulness and worship in our lives.
“It is at such moments that I may become literally overwhelmed by a profound sense of the love and the grace of God. The very root of my own pride lie exposed to the scrutiny of God, and if I can bear it over and over again, the very will to pride of that kind may be destroyed in me; yes, destroyed by the sheer love of God. Perhaps, it is always true that the test of my Thanksgiving is the humility which it inspires. Self-examination – Thanksgiving– Humility – let us experience them in our quiet time in the presence of God.” – Page 19
Some personal reflection and application for what it is worth…
I need Daily Brutal Honesty (DBH) about my own:
- Strengths – ways my true self in Christ is coming out and glorifying my Father and blessing others. I need to acknowledge daily the image of Christ I am being conformed to by His Spirit at work in me (Romans 8:29). This needs to be a daily celebration where I acknowledge “Christ uniquely in me, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27. This isn’t boastful triumphalism in self, this is just a returning to my true identity each day and remembering how God made me so I don’t waste my time on things I wasn’t designed to do with the hardware God gave me.
- Sin – I must acknowledge my sin and need for redemption, and be real in God’s presence about my own inconsistencies where I am not living out the values I have confessed and believe to be good, true and beautiful. I must confess these things. I must put them on the altar. My false-self-ego that boasts in my own abilities and ambitions, and seeks to gratify this flesh, must be laid daily at the foot of the cross so I can now freely boast in the righteousness of Christ imputed to me and in my New Self being renewed in the image of my Creator” (Colossians 3:10-11) There’s no ego at the place of surrender and repentance… There is no hope or pride in self, but “Christ is all and in all”. I don’t have to justify my worth to others or try to prove myself. I can just be me, the exact beloved son of God I am in Christ. No person can manipulate, control me or command me into their codependent agendas since I will be secure in my identity and free to live a life of love and service unto Christ and others for the sake of humanity’s truest flourishing unto the Father’s glory.
- Strategy – I must think through my life and my day in His presence on this “Island of Peace” so that His strategies of His Spirit in me might come out instead of the strategies of my flesh and selfish ambition. I don’t want to waste my time building or contributing to the empire of my (or someone else’s) false self, but want to use all I am to build and contribute to the Kingdom of God. It is there my true treasure and eternal “return on investment” lies, so it is there and to that end, I WILL invest my time, talents and treasures God has entrusted to me.
A Song of reflection
A Scripture to encourage
Colossians 3:5-17 NLT
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”