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Friday, June 10, 2011

Teachable heart - Part II

Train me, God, to walk straight;
      then I'll follow your true path.
   Put me together, one heart and mind;
      then, undivided, I'll worship in joyful fear.
(Psalm 86:11-12)

The teach-ability of one's heart is in direct comparison to the openness of one's mind.  Our actions begin in our mind - learning to perform new actions is made easiest when our minds are opening to considering the possibilities of those actions!  David's prayer reveals the secret of teach-ability:  God putting us together - making one heart and mind out of the "muddle" of the divided attention and direction of these two parts of our being.


This is the prayer of a teachable heart - put me together!  David begins with "teach me" and "show me how to do this".  He concludes with the idea that he's not as "all together" as he'd like to portray to the world.  One of the signs of a truly teachable heart is the ability to be "transparent" - first with yourself and with God, then with those around you.


The prayer of a teachable heart begins with the cry, "Cause me to know how to go in your ways - not mine!"  In order to learn to go in God's way instead of our own, we must understand what they are.  When David is asking God to let him understand "his ways", he wants to know what God has planned for him.  There may have been times when David doubted that God's plans would ever come to pass - like when he was fleeing for his life as Saul's men were hunting him down before he could assume the throne of leadership over Israel.  David came to a place in his walk where he recognized the futility of trusting his own judgment.  He knew God, but when he relied on his own judgment over God's, he usually realized failure, compromise, and a downward spiral in his life.


David was crying out to God to both recognize the nature of his ways and to be convinced that God's ways were definitely the best for his life.  It is one thing to recognize what God has planned, it is quite another to actually walk within that plan!  David knew it would take a firm resolve of his heart to follow in God's ways.  The key here is who is in control - David was actually asking God to take control.


The prayer continues with, "Train me in your ways."  Training a plant to grow involves several steps that we would do well to take a lesson or two from.  First, the plant is trained for its growth by being bent.  The bending of that plant may be gradual at first, but as it begins to grow, the direction of its growth is determined by the one doing the bending.  


Second, as growth continues, there is often a need for pruning to occur.  Growth is actually directed much through the pruning process.  If you want something to grow up, trim off its bottom growth.  If you want it to grow out, nip a little off the top.  Third, growth is best when the plant is positioned so as not to move.  We place stakes around small trees for this reason - to secure its placement against the struggles of wind and storm.  David realized that the best opportunity for growth was when he was deeply rooted in God - staked!


Last, but certainly not least, growth involves being formed - being made fit for growth.  This is the process of tending.  David's prayers often asked God to make him "fit" for the next step in his journey.  The "fitness" of our soul is in direct correlation to the "fitness" of our mind and heart!  It is in God's processes of making us "fit" that he is giving us the skill to proceed in the ways he intends for our lives - the development of an aptitude and ability to grow in his ways.


The goal of a teachable heart is simply that we may live according to the truths of God.  Tomorrow, we will look at the next verses in this passage.  Until then, ask God where you are not bendable, where you might be needing a little pruning, if you have resisted his "staking", or if you are resistant to the "fitting" process he has designed.  Those simple prayers can yield much growth.