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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Searching the Heart - Wounds and Idols

I suggested in my last post that transparency involves laying our hearts open before God. In fact, DIY open heart surgery is probably not a good idea. We have to put ourselves in the hands of the divine heart surgeon. In response to my last post, John referred to Ps.139:1, 23-24. I have thought about those verses quite a lot over the last few months. I have realised afresh that we cannot really know our own hearts, even when we think we do. That is why we need God to search them (we can't know other people's hearts either and that's really important but the subject for another post).

The great thing is that he has searched us (v.1) and is not shocked, offended or intimidated by what he finds. In fact, as the rest of the Psalm shows, knowing everything about us he still pursues us in love, even when we try to flee from him into our own darkness (vv.11-12). And when we finally realise that we do not really know ourselves and ask him to search us, we do so perhaps still in fear that he might find something unexpected that causes him to recoil in disapproval and offence; and so the translators write 'see if there is any evil/wicked/offensive way in me'. In fact the Hebrew word so translated is a word, Strong tells us, that can be translated - 'idol' or 'pain'. We are conscious of our sin and failure, but I find that when God does the searching, the deep heart surgery, this is what he uncovers:

  • wounds - the pain from stuff that has hurt us, some self-inflicted and some not, but which causes us to be sensitive, reactive, to hide or to flee; he wants to heal those wounds.
  • idols - the things that we lock on to and use to try to get our sense of significance or security from instead of God; they are the counterfeit gods that in fear or foolish self-centredness we try to replace God with in our hearts; he loves us too much to allow such worthless idols to remain.
Whether it is the cauterising of wounds or the burning up of idols, we sometimes experience the fires of his holy love in the intimacy and transparency of this divine heart surgery. But make no mistake it is his love we are experiencing - the holy and painful love of the one who searches us and knows us, and still loves us with an undying love.

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