For I am already being poured out as a drink offering… -Paul (2 Timothy 4:6a, HCSB)
Something I have been thinking a lot about is where our heart lies. I’ve written about it before. But I’ve woken up twice recently with a weird feeling in my head.
About a week and a half ago, I woke up having dreamt that I had an argument with a friend of mine. It was a stupid argument in the dream, but it was something I at the time (and still now) expect that he and I will be in conflict for, so I was dreaming about the argument and how I could win it. Dreaming about is reminded me we’ll probably argue about this topic soon, and it made me bitter and annoyed all day long to even think about it. Just the anticipation of an argument has actually made me in real life a little bitter to someone I would consider a great guy and a friend.
Three weeks or so ago, I woke up in the middle of the night. Different thoughts. Similar conclusion:
Where’s my heart?
I struggle with letting a lot of the wrong stuff into my heart. I do things for the wrong reasons all the time. I want my pleasure. My satisfaction. My name to be known. Me to be successful.
It’s been hard, but I’m working on it. I’m trying to let things go even when it’s really hard and I don’t want to let them go. In short, in line with what Paul wrote about above, he was talking about his very life being poured out and going to death. Sometimes letting my stuff get poured out feels like I’m going to my death.
A friend of mine said it’s been interesting watching God pound on my heart. And that’s what it feels like. An incessant never-ending pounding. To mix metaphors, the more we dig, the more of a mess it feels like God and I discover together.
It’s embarrassing. Shouldn’t I have all this stuff worked out by now? Why am I struggling with different variants of the exact same couple of issues over and over and over again?
I guess I am in good company, because I go back to Romans 7:15 a lot, where Paul writes: “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (NLT)
The more I dig, the more desperate I want to purify my heart. I keep looking back at Paul’s words about being poured out as a drink offering. And I really like that analogy. To pour out of my heart everything I once thought was important. My fame. My pride. My money. My success. My lust. My greed. My desires. My needs. My. My. My. My. To pour it all out and give it all up.
I talk about it like it’s some big sacrifice. And it’s really not, is it?
The happiest people I know traded their “my”s, for “him”s or “their”s. Is it so much of a sacrifice to give up something that’s poisonous to gain something healthy? I don’t think so. Yet so often we act like it is.
How to get there? As I wrote before, I think a lot of it has to do with the inputs in your life. For the first 3 weeks of this year, I did an ok job at reading the Bible and a devotional everyday. I had daily intentional time to spend alone with God. It wasn’t easy. It pounded on my heart. But it was effective. Changing my inputs helped change me and the way I thought about things.
But eating salads for three weeks (did that too) or reading the Bible for three weeks doesn’t introduce permanent change. You’ve got to keep going. And now that I’ve seen it works, even if it is hard, I’m gonna try doing it again more often.
I also think the pounding and the digging and the pouring have all been very beneficial, even if they’ve been even more painful. I can’t change overnight. But it’s given me a glimpse at how things can be better and how incremental changes can help get me there.
Finally, the more God pounds, the more I feel like somebody has turned up the spiritual intensity in my life. I feel like God’s given me more wisdom with what to say and more boldness with when to say it. I’ve had more crazy serious conversations about life and what’s going wrong in life with more kids in the last month than I probably have in the last two years put together.
Which is all the more motivation to change my inputs and keep God first. I’ve already shown that on my own, I’m gonna blow it all up.