These are the Lord’s words that were spoken softly yet with bold clarity to my heart. I had come before Him with the Word in my lap and a listening ear ready to hear what was causing the distance. I had been feeling it for a time, a sort of lengthening of the space in between us. I was still sensing the leadership of the Spirit in my day, doing my best to respond to life’s curveballs in the power of the Spirit. But I felt a distinct lack of clarity in my ability to move forward in the work I knew He had called me to do. It was like I was operating at half power. Confusion and frustration were growing at my inability and His perceived silence. I intuitively knew the problem had to be me, but I was reluctant to find out exactly where I had gone wrong. Finally, I did the one thing I should have done from the beginning. I sat before Him and asked Him to talk to me.
He drew my heart in by first taking me to Isaiah 30:15…
In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
I felt an ache of longing for each one of these words: rest, quietness, trust and strength, as I was currently experiencing the opposite of each. This was what I wanted back. I knew I’d had it, even very recently, but somewhere along the way I had lost it. I went back to the verse and started at the beginning, “In returning”…or even more acutely, “In repentance”. My heart started beating double time and I knew I had the first piece of the puzzle. My way back to experiencing all those beautiful words would start with the first step: my repentance.
My next words were “Show me Lord” and he immediately brought to my mind that just the week prior I had looked at verses where he names himself Jealous. I found the very verse I had been looking over and read Exodus 34:15…
For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
“Darci, I am Jealous. I seem to be sharing your affections with other things.”
I went back and read through what had caused the Lord’s pronouncement of himself as Jealous and was reminded of how the Israelites created and worshiped the golden calf just two chapters earlier. In Exodus 34, God is renewing his covenant with them after this grief-inducing incident. He’s giving them warning about becoming too comfortable with the culture of the nations that they’ll be sent in to conquer and an even greater warning to annihilate their worship practices. Why? Why does He care so much? Because He alone is God! He did not make them His people, and bring them out of slavery through supernatural miracles of salvation to SHARE their devotion with ANYTHING else. He was jealous for their affection. And since He’s called me His child and done supernatural miracles of salvation on my behalf, He’s jealous over my affection as well.
He tenderly continued:
“Darci, take care, lest these other pursuits of yours become a snare in your midst.” (v 12)
“Darci, tear it down.” (v 13)
“Darci, take care, lest these seemingly benign affections don’t just affect you but eventually ensnare the hearts of your children.” (v 16)
Wow! This was serious. We’re not just talking about me anymore. How I handle this has implications on my children. So, I did the work. I gave Him access to my heart and He pinpointed the breech. He highlighted what I had unconsciously been turning to for comfort or even just distraction. It seemed harmless and benign but was actually stealing His affection and weakening our connection. My heart was under assault. And what was specifically being fought over is the place of my heart that gives worship. He wants to be where I find comfort, He wants to be my delight, He wants to be the worship of my life. He’s jealous for it for me–and He’s jealous for you.
I got some clarity that day. I realized that this battle for the worship and lordship of my heart, it’s never going to end. I am never going to be able to grow casual or complacent about what is receiving my attention and affection. I will never be able to expect the default setting of my heart to seek after God and God alone. Never. Without very specific attention and intention, my heart, one small choice after another, will build an altar…a high place, and put one thing on the throne: MY SELF.
So what do we do? How do we battle for the lordship of our hearts?
- Start where the Israelites showed me that I had to start: we repent. We get before Him to search our hearts and recognize if we’ve allowed anything to exalt itself over Him in our affections. (Isaiah 30:15)
- Then, we seek the Lord our God. Deuteronomy 4:29 promises that we will find him if we search after him with all our heart and all our soul.
- Lastly, every day, we take care. We pay attention to our hearts, to who and what we’re worshipping with our time, money, and speech. (Deut 4:23, Ex 34:12)
These moments of correction in every believer’s life of our sin being brought to light and then being led to confess and repent is never our favorite part. It’s uncomfortable and humbling. It’s a dying to our self. But what is beautiful about these moments of discipline is that we get to experience the work of the Spirit and the Word in our life in real-time. Thousand-year-old words on a page come to life and speak truth to the circumstance of our day and if we let it, they heal us. That day I was given grace in my discomfort. My head knowledge of God became an actual experience of Him as Jealous. My knowledge became a knowing and that has brought me rest and quietness; trust and strength. He is a fiercely jealous lover of our souls and He will fight for my affection and for yours also.
Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Deuteronomy 4:39