Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. —KING SOLOMON (PROV. 4:23)

And I would heal them.” That’s a different offer from: “And I would forgive them.” It’s a different offer from: “And I will give them a place in heaven.” No, Jesus is offering healing to us.

A veil removed, bringing freedom, transformation, glory. Do you see it? I am not making this up—though I have been accused of making the gospel better than it is. The charge is laughable. Could anyone be more generous than God? Could any of us come up with a story that beats the one God has come up with? All the stories that we tell borrow their power from the Great Story he is telling.

How much more so when it comes to the deep truths of the Christian faith. God loves you; you matter to him. That is a fact, stated as a proposition. I imagine most of you have heard it any number of times. Why, then, aren’t we the happiest people on earth? It hasn’t reached our hearts. Facts stay lodged in the mind, for the most part. They don’t speak at the level we need to hear. Proposition speaks to the mind, but when you tell a story, you speak to the heart. We’ve been telling each other stories since the beginning of time. It is our way of communicating the timeless truths, passing them down. And that’s why when Jesus comes to town, he speaks in a way that will get past all our intellectual defenses and disarm our hearts. He tells a certain kind of story.

If you’re not pursuing a dangerous quest with your life, well, then, you don’t need a Guide. If you haven’t found yourself in the midst of a ferocious war, then you won’t need a seasoned Captain. If you’ve settled in your mind to live as though this is a fairly neutral world and you are simply trying to live your life as best you can, then you can probably get by with the Christianity of tips and techniques. Maybe. I’ll give you about a fifty-fifty chance. But if you intend to live in the Story that God is telling, and if you want the life he offers, then you are going to need more than a handful of principles, however noble they may be. There are too many twists and turns in the road ahead, too many ambushes waiting only God knows where, too much at stake. You cannot possibly prepare yourself for every situation. Narrow is the way, said Jesus. How shall we be sure to find it? We need God intimately, and we need him desperately.

I’m well aware that it’s life I need, and it’s life I’m looking for. But the offer has gotten “interpreted” by well-meaning people to say, “Oh, well. Yes, of course . . . God intends life for you. But that is eternal life, meaning, because of the death of Jesus Christ you can go to heaven when you die.” And that’s true . . . in a way. But it’s like saying getting married means, “Because I’ve given you this ring, you will be taken care of in your retirement.” And in the meantime? Isn’t there a whole lot more to the relationship in the meantime? (It’s in the meantime that we’re living out our days, by the way.) Are we just lost at sea? What did Jesus mean when he promised us life? I go back to the source, and what I find is just astounding.

I never tell lies, but I am a savage.

I shall take the heart,” returned the Tin Woodman; “for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.” (L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us . . . And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. (Nelson Mandela)

Part of me knows that prayer is essential; another part of me would rather turn on the TV and check out. And that whole bit about being long-suffering-no way. Part of me wants to just get drunk.

Perhaps it is our fear of getting our hopes up; it seems too good to be true. Perhaps it’s been the almost total focus on sin and the Cross. But the Scripture is abundant and clear: Christ came not only to pardon us, but also to heal us. He wants the glory restored. So, put the book down for just a moment, and let this sink in: Jesus can, and wants to, heal your heart.

Religion and its defenders have always been the most insidious enemy of the true faith precisely because they are not glaring opponents; they are impostors. A raving pagan is easier to dismiss than an elder in your church. Before Jesus came along, the Pharisees ran the show. Everybody took what they said as gospel—even though it didn’t sound like good news at all. But we wrestle not against flesh and blood. The Pharisees and their brethren down through the ages have merely acted—unknowingly, for the most part—as puppets, the mouthpiece of the Enemy.

somehow we have overlooked the fact this treasured called the heart can also be broken, has been broken, and now lies in pieces down under the surface. When it comes to habits we cannot quit or patterns we cannot stop, anger that flies out of nowhere, fears we cannot overcome, or weaknesses we hate to admit--much of what troubles us comes out of the broken places in our hearts crying out for relief.

Jesus speaks as if we are all brokenhearted. We would do well to trust His perspective on this.

Teach a man a rule and you help him solve a problem; teach a man to walk with God and you help him solve the rest of his life.

Teach a man a rule and you help him solve a problem; teach a man to walk with God and you help him solve the rest of his life. Truth

That is exactly what we need. Eyes to see. Isn’t that what Jesus offered us—clarity? Recovery of sight for the blind (Luke 4:18)? We need clarity and we need it badly. A simple prayer rises from my heart: Jesus, take away the fog and the clouds and the veil, and help me to see . . . give me eyes to really see.

The first line grabs me by the throat. “Therefore we do not lose heart.” Somebody knows how not to lose heart? I’m all ears. For we are losing heart. All of us. Daily. It is the single most unifying quality shared by the human race on the planet at this time. We are losing—or we have already lost—heart.

The glory of God is man fully alive. (Saint Irenaeus)

The story of your life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it.

The world has been wrong about you. They’ve hated your glory—just as the Evil One hates the glory of God. But we need your gift. Come forth.

The worst blows typically come from family.

to find God, you must look with all your heart. To remain present to God, you must remain present to your heart. To hear his voice, you must listen with your heart. To love him, you must love with all your heart. You cannot be the person God meant you to be, and you cannot live the life he meant you to live, unless you live from the heart.

We know if we could truly love, and be loved, and never lose love, we would finally be happy.

Why are so many people struggling with depression and discouragement? They’ve lost heart. Why can’t we seem able to break free of our addictions? Because somewhere along the way, in a moment of carelessness or desperation, we gave our heart away, and now we can’t get it back.

Years ago a mother wrote to C. S. Lewis regarding her son (age nine) and his love for The Chronicles of Narnia. The boy was feeling bad because he felt he loved Aslan (the lion hero of the story) more than Jesus. With grace and brilliance Lewis replied that he need not worry: “For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things that Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before.” Truth doesn’t need a verse attached to it to be true. All that you loved about Aslan is Jesus.

You are never a great man when you have more mind than heart. —BEAUCHENE

You clean and organize; you demand perfection—did you ever wonder why?