Our hearts are most often engaged through an experience. It is very possible for us to know many facts about something and to be emotionally unengaged about it. I have three wonderful children. I remember being very excited when I found out that my wife was pregnant. I believed her and knew that I would have a child in about nine months. Although I knew it to be true, I did not really engage my heart until much later. I loved each of our children before they were born. Yet each time I felt that love change dramatically when I held them in my arms for the first time.
I vividly remember sitting in the hospital room holding our oldest child feeling all of the ideas and thoughts from the past nine months seating themselves in the reality of this precious baby. I felt emotions that I did not know were missing over the previous months. Something was very different at that moment. As a father (much different than a mother’s experience), the idea was predominantly a set of facts accompanied by a mother’s growing belly and some computer images. None of the previous nine months could compare with actually holding our first child in my arms.
In our community many people attend church. Whether every Christmas and Easter or once per month or just when there is nothing better to do, it is pretty normal for people to attend church. To many of these it is all about a set of facts which correspond to moral instruction. This moral instruction makes someone a better person.
It is easy to see why someone would only show up to worship God on occasion if the whole thing was about moral ideas. Maybe you’ve been on a really great streak, morally speaking, and don’t need any help for a while. Maybe you’re super busy and you know all the do’s and don’t’s and would rather use the time in another way. These are all easy and understandable responses for those whose hearts are not spiritually stirred.
First written by Moses in Deuteronomy and then stated by Jesus in the gospels, is an idea which deserves our attention: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. In both places these words show up, heart and soul are at the beginning. The original readers/hearers of these words would have understood heart and soul as the place of desire and will. Therefore, we love God in a way that changes our desires and our will so that it will then manifest through our strength and our mind.
Do you see that we have missed the vast majority of what Jesus calls the GREATEST commandment. We have accepted the lie that lulls us into thinking that if we know enough about Him and do enough for Him then we are all good with Him. This all begs the question of how we can flip our erroneous approach upside down and begin to experience God and love Him the way he intends.
4 Ways to Engage Your Heart:
Saturate Yourself in Scripture. Allow His Word to flood your mind. Instead of reading two or three verses or a devotional reflection, just sit down and read several chapters. Sit down and read an entire book of the Bible. There are many books of the Bible that can be read in 30 minutes or less.
Pray freely and regularly. After you submerge yourself in His Word, then maybe you have something on your heart that you want to express to Him. Or, you can merely ask that He would continue to give you understanding around what you just read. But, most important, then include prayer throughout the rest of the day in both the highs and lows (prayers of thankfulness and need).
Engage in real relationships with others on the same pursuit. God created His people and His church intentionally. Begin meeting with one, two, or a group of others who are traveling this path as well. Encourage them and allow them to do the same for you.
Worship with the church. Worshiping with others in the church engages the heart. After a week of meditating on scripture, prayer, conversations, and life, you will be refreshed by responding to God in the company of others who have been rescued into hopefulness just like you.
Never let one bad day or a disrupted rhythm derail everything for you. Regardless of what happens, just get back on target. You will come to a place in the days ahead when your heart and soul will be overwhelmed with the love God displayed for you and continues to pour over you.