“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful; a puzzle that no one can figure out.” – Jeremiah 17:9 MSG
I’ve been having some issues with my heart lately. I took some medication that has as a side effect, atrial fibrillation (i.e. irregular heart rate/heart palpitations). Needless to say, I’ve now stopped taking the medication and I’m in the process of getting it completely out of my system, so that my heart rate can return to normal. As I pondered this situation today, I started thinking more deeply about the heart.
The Bible says the heart is deceitful and wicked, and that no one can really figure it out. I know that’s a bit hard to hear, especially for those who believe they have a “good heart” or that they are inherently good. We all like to think that we’re “not so bad” or that our hearts can be trusted by us and our significant others. But, the prophet Jeremiah challenges our positively distorted self-perceptions. Let’s examine the verse more closely… blinders completely off… honesty cranked all the way up to 10.
How many times have you made decisions that have been completely unlike you? How many times have you said things that you regretted saying, the very second the words left your mouth? How many times have you found yourself in situations that you never thought you’d end up in? How many times have you felt genuinely disappointed in your own self? We’ve all experienced this. It’s a part of being human. And regardless of how good we feel we are or how well we were raised, left to our own selfish, self-seeking devices (our Adamic nature), we’re sinful at our core. The Bible says, “There is none righteous [none that meets God’s standard], no not one.” (Romans 3:10 AMP). It also says that everything we do flows from our hearts (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 12:34).
The underlying message of Jeremiah 17:9 is that a heart that has not been fully yielded and surrendered to Christ, simply cannot be trusted to make right decisions or generate right behavior. The key phrase there is “fully yielded and surrendered.” The longer I live, the more I discover that surrendering is not an event, but a consistent, continual practice, minute by minute. You won’t get it right all the time. So, most times, we’re operating outside the fully-yielded-and-surrendered zone; which means, most times our hearts are hopelessly dark and deceitful.
I think that realization is more freeing than it is disheartening. The reality is, we desperately need God. We can’t breathe, move, or live without Him (Acts 17:28). And this recognition of our hopelessness without Him, should cause us to be more tolerant and understanding of just how hopeless our significant others are without Him as well. We get so disappointed/hurt by the things our loved ones do that we sometimes play prosecutor, jury, and judge, when our hearts are the same shade of black as theirs; ours just manifests in different ways. Not better or worse ways, just different ways.
The lesson today is humbling. There are heart conditions that we may be susceptible to in different ways and at different times. The atrial fibrillation you sometimes feel in your own life and in your relationships is an indication that something isn’t exactly how it should be. You’ll feel it from time to time. It’s not an indictment; it’s an invitation. An invitation to stop the self-medicating and to allow God to clean your system. Jeremiah 17:10 says, “But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” (MSG).
Let’s climb up together on the operating table of the Altar today.
Prayer: Lord, as the One who designed and formed the heart, You are our Chief Cardiologist. There is no heart condition so terminal that You cannot fix. Uncomfortable as it is, we acknowledge the darkness and deceitfulness of our hearts. As we lay still on Your operating table, we ask You to get to the root of the issue. Help us to fully yield and surrender our hearts to You, one step at a time. In this Lenten season, we thank You that because of Your shed blood, our conditions are never indictments, but invitations to draw closer to You. We accept Your invitation. Consider this our RSVP today. Amen.