As I grow older, I understand more clearly what nostalgia is all about. I remember days when life was simpler, when I had “free time” and hobbies; when I read books for fun; when I shot hoops in the driveway and took naps on Sunday afternoons.
Life today is complex. There are bills to pay, yards to landscape, tasks to accomplish, posts to post, pressures to endure. I hope that doesn’t sound like whining. I consider myself normal in this, not unique. We live in an all-out, pedal to the metal, fast-charging world.
I don’t know what it was like to be king of Israel, but I imagine it had its moments of stress. Pastoring 400 or 500 people is one thing. Ruling a nation – that would take some doing. I think David found the same struggle I have. He prayed, in Psalm 86:11,
“Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
This prayer came from a man the scriptures describe as a “man after God’s own heart.” He loved God and wanted to serve him, but he found it easy to get distracted, to allow things of this world to creep in and divide his heart. Even a man after God’s own heart had to guard that heart from becoming divided by the things of this world.
Church is my life. My friends are church people. My work is church work. It is odd that I still find it so easy to lose focus and involve myself in passions that have nothing to do with the Kingdom. I can only imagine how hard it is for people working in a secular world to keep their minds and hearts steadfast on Christ.
David longed for a heart with one passion. He wanted to strip away all distractions, all the impure passions, all the lesser loves, and be a man whose heart beat with God’s, a single-minded, focused-passion, all-consuming lover of God.
I want that too. I need it. My heart feels pulled apart in a million directions. Church work. Finances. The Yankees. Family. The Yankees. Oh, and the Yankees. I’ve got TVs, a desktop, a laptop, a smart phone and a Kindle Fire, all ready to distract me at a moment’s notice. A piece of my heart goes here, another piece there and one more over there. Divided. I need the prayer of David to become a reality in my own heart.
Sometimes I think it would be nice to live on a desert island with a Bible for a year or two. But that is not God’s will for us. He places us in this rat-race society and tells us to invest our lives in Jesus’ work. We cannot escape the maelstrom. We have to live in the middle of the muddle with undivided hearts.
How do we do that? How do we keep our focus in a maddening world? Permit me to make some random observations and suggestions.
- We must recognize a divided heart for what it is – spiritual adultery. The Bride of Christ must have a passion for Christ that is not shared with others. Because we are so used to living with divided hearts, we often delude ourselves into thinking it is no big deal. God desires that we love him with all our heart. He will not accept less.
- The issue is time. There is nothing more equal than time. We have different talents, gifts, and backgrounds. All of us get 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. The difference is in how we use our time. Your real priorities are not what you say, but what you invest your time in. There is no substitute for time in God’s word, prayer, meditation, reflection, time spent listening to God and giving him the sacrifice of praise.
- It takes tough choices to change. If you recognize that your heart is divided, you must make some tough choices that will change your life. Some things may have to go, others have to begin. Henry Blackaby says “you cannot stay where you are and go with God.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Pure gold has no alloys, nothing that dilutes the gold and hardens it. Jesus pronounced God’s blessing on the pure, “unalloyed” heart.
Lord, remove the alloys that harden my heart. Turn it away from all the temporal temptresses and help me to focus it completely and totally on you.
Wouldn’t it be amazing, even for a day or two, to truly have an undivided heart?