Wednesday, September 11, 2013

(Hearts aren't really our guides.)

 Sometimes I survey my surroundings and the damage that I've done, standing baffled and wordless like a man observing the tremendous carnage left in a hurricane's wake.  I  reflect on what my eyes have seen -- all of the sleepless, tear-soaked nights and the dreadful recollections of my actions. In this moment, I pause to wonder how I could ever do such wicked deeds. How did I descend to that point?

    Maybe the answer is simple:  I followed my heart.

    You see, our culture chants a mantra every now and then, in the lyrics of pop songs and the forlorn gazes of romantic comedies. "Listen to your heart", they say, as if it were something worth obeying.  In the light of my experiences, I know one thing without a doubt.

       My heart is like a broken compass, ignorantly spinning without regard for truth or virtue.

     The bible tells us that a man's heart is not to be held in any esteem.  Jeremiah 17:9 says  that  “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. "  I can attest with bitter certainty that this is true. 

       Furthermore, what a man understands as his conscience can even become blunted under the long-term influence of sin.  As a person continually ignores the voice of righteousness within them, it withers into a shell of it's former state. Even worse, it may become warped and perverted into something truly morbid.   Soon, it parrots back to us the very words we want to hear, imprisoning us in a cycle of destructive behavior.

      God's word shows us that our notions of "doing the right thing" can often be terribly askew. For the past year, this has been one of my favorite verses, imprinted on my memory as if it were branded to my spirit with a hot iron:

     There is a way that seems right to a man,
        but its end is the way to death.[a]  - Proverbs 14:12

    This is where I was trapped, and this is where Christ rescued me.  I was lost in the haze of my own failures, unable to guide myself to safety.  As you read this, I urge you to search yourself and your allegiances.  Align yourself with something greater than the broken compass buried in your chest. It will always fail you.

   You are reading a post on The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about the Hartsfields and their journey to recovery from unfaithfulness. Click here for a brief introduction and make sure to subscribe by email(on the right side) for regular updates.


  1. Amazing truth here. I've been there, lost in my own forest of the heart. It's a difficult one to navigate when you are being led by that "broken compass". The realization of where I have put my allegiances is a VERY sobering, continually uncomfortable journey as of late. I now can only put my life in the saving hands of Jesus and hope for an incredible story of redemption. Thank you for this.

  2. Just to add, I think following your heart is only applicable to following your dreams or passions -- not following the wrong desires of the heart.

    The song "Counting Stars" by One Republic says

    "... And I feel something so wrong doing the right thing.
    And I feel something so right doing the wrong thing…"

    I think the lesson from those lines is that it may feel so wrong to do the right thing but do it anyway. It’s a sign of discipline, courage and strength in character.

    1. It's so funny you brought up that song, because I've always interpreted it very differently! I always thought he was making a comment similar to Paul in Romans 7:15 -- "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." I think this lines up with the other lyrics that say "everything that kills me makes me feel alive." So, the singer feels most alive when indulging in self-destructive behavior. Risk-taking... this could include a lot of things.

      This mixed-up situation is the conflict inside of every man. We are driven to do wrong, always faintly desiring to do right but often failing to achieve it. Interesting thoughts to ponder, for sure.

  3. Great post, Ray. Thank you so much for sharing!