In this holiday season of making merry and eating even more merrily, some things continue grinding on in the background. You’re familiar with them: people and drivers that annoy the heck out of you; hopes dashed one more time because someone let you down – again; thinking that something is true simply because you want to think it is and no one is going to convince you otherwise…
Notorious for being thankful no one can read our minds, we humans are great at whipping out the holiday smiles and garbing ourselves in “tis’ the season” robes of revelry. While all the while, those internal things continue to ride that mysterious treadmill that got set in motion a while back – in some cases even years ago, embedded more deeply than just yesterday’s irritation and frustration.
I call this predicament “hardening of the hearteries.” Just as in our bodies clogged up arteries pose the risky potential for a heart attack, so do clots in our hearteries, those little streams and rivulets feeding into our spiritual hearts, our ‘wellspring of life.’
No one knowingly invites a heart attack, unless they choose to defiantly shake their fist at God! (Not a wise choice). However, unhealthy habits formed over time, practiced over time, and but for the awaiting grace of God, entrenched over time, are like a conveyor belt to our spiritual heart. Just as our arteries are designed to get blood and oxygen to the heart muscle, both our arteries and hearteries can become clogged up, slowed down and eventually totally blocked. An attacked heart is lurking around the corner.
“Aren’t you a barrel of good news?” you might be thinking. Well, actually, yes I am. The Good News of Jesus Christ’s cleansing, life-giving blood is the artesian source of any healthy, full-flowing wellspring. So what does that have to do with arteries, heart attacks, and potential disease or even death?
Jesus gives us the answer Himself…”I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” John 10:10b (AMP) That’s good news!
Just as prevention of clogged arteries requires a good diet and regular exercise, avoidance of clots in our hearteries requires a steady diet of dining on (taking in, chewing and swallowing, ingesting) the Bread and Water of Life (see John 6:26-40) and the discipline of exercising our heart before God.
Since exercise requires resistance in order to build our physical muscles, a heart exercised before the LORD is naturally going to experience resistance – our thoughts are not His thoughts, and He tells us to “…let (allow)this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 (KJV) Not easily done, when one considers our mind is typically the site of the biggest battle. When victory reigns in our minds, the resulting fruit proof of free-flowing hearteries is a good indicator we have fought a battle through to defeat of an aspect of our own nature and have taken on more of Christ’s temperament in that regard.
Our ways are not His ways…He admittedly is the Most High and reigns in Majesty…yet He calls us to strive (in a disciplined sort of way, not the unhealthy striving of doing good works to be ‘good enough to please God and be accepted by Him’ that many are prone to) to walk in Jesus’ heart healthy paths. He instructs us to “make level (consider the) paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.” Proverbs 4:26, Hebrews 12:13 (NIV) I love that the Hebrews passage goes on to say, “…so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
Discipline is healing; it’s good for our hearteries and it comes with a promise of “Later on, however…” (Remember, God’s promises are always fulfilled!)
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. LATER ON, HOWEVER, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Hebrews 12:11-13 (NIV)
I encourage you to get less hung up about diet and exercise during this festive holiday season than you are devoted to dismantling the internal treadmill that is hardening your hearteries with its revolving belt. It is amazing how giving the Word of God its preeminent place in our lives leads to strength and vitality that flows through us – spirit, soul, AND body. Rather than being not only lame, but completely disabled, we can become trained and run the whole race God has set before us with strong limbs and healed hearts.
Here’s a heart-healthy diet and exercise plan that’s worth our time, effort, and dedication. ‘Tis the season…while it is still called Today. “So, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts’…” Hebrews 3:7a (NIV)
With healthy hearteries and Wellsprings on my mind…