I love the portions of scripture that include statements like, "...but I, God..." or perhaps "...but God..." because within those few words there is such hope, the promise of a turning point, and the revelation things are about to change. There is no greater hope than to know what was once a sense of being helplessly lost and stumbling in the dark is about to break into brightness of day and clarity of purpose. There is no promise quite as binding as that which is backed by the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God of the universe. There is no truth as liberating as that which comes from the mouth of the one who makes all things come into being just by his words and breath. These portions of scripture bring much needed refreshing to the dry and thirsty soul indeed.
The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. 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. (Jeremiah 17:9-10 MSG)
The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful - almost beyond our ability to fully comprehend or discover - even though we might study it, looking deeply for intent and purpose. A "puzzle" of sorts - challenging us to reveal hidden secrets. Mind, will, and emotions - a "puzzle" of vast proportions - interwoven and interdependent. The will cannot make a move without the impetus of emotion or the input of thought. The mind struggles to gain control of the unwieldy emotions, spinning out of control and plagued by the most current pressures or delights of today's activities. Emotions traverse territory higher and lower than the largest and fastest of roller-coasters known to mankind in times which would set world speed records, making it a total challenge for mind and will to keep up.
The heart - hopelessly dark and deceitful. What an ominous depiction of the state of our mind, the action of our will, and the stability of our emotions apart from the touch of God's grace in our lives. It is the "...but I, God..." which brings us to the place of hope! It is his very presence which brings with it the events of the moment are about to turn around, bringing order to chaos, peace to unrest, and determination to uncertainty. He searches the heart, examines the mind, getting to the heart of the human - not to expose and embarrass, but to uncover and heal.
I have been studying how to compost for my garden. I am not a natural "farmer" or "gardener" by nature, so this "cultivation" of the gardens I am trying to create around my home is a bit of a challenge for me. I would rather plant the vegetable seeds, see them sprout, and enjoy the feast of wonderful nutrient-rich green stuff without all this effort...but...there is a lot more to it than that! I contacted my local municipality and obtained a composter. It is this nice "dome-like" object which will help me contain the nutrient rich substances which will become the compost for my garden. In time, I will add worms and the thing will take on a life of its own. In the meantime, I study to understand the things which "add" to the successful breakdown of what goes into the composter. Who knew there was so much involved in "decay"?
As I have studied this topic, something became quite apparent to me - even decay is a complicated process! Some would think decay would be so simple, but there is this process of decomposition which occurs. Just as the word suggests, the "composition" of one substance becomes transformed by the very things which "work upon it" to break it down. There are micro-organisms, tiny things actually, which bring about the decaying process. This speaks to me of the "littleness" of those things which could actually begin the process of "decay" in our lives! It isn't the big stuff we have to worry about most of the time - it is the little stuff which becomes our "undoing"! Decomposition is a process of "rotting" - in truth, it is a gradually "falling" into an inferior condition. It isn't instant - it is gradual - so we may not even realize we are "decomposing"!
This is why we need God's help to understand our heart - because those tiny things which have worked against us aren't always understood by us, nor recognized for their destructive powers. We need his revealing eye and guiding hand to bring out the things which are causing us to "decompose" from the inside out. Some of these things are pretty apparent to us - because we see their immediate destructiveness, such as when insects invade a decaying object and we watch it go from one state to another in a matter of days. Other things are not as apparent - such as those anaerobic organisms which act upon the decaying object - giving off a stench which almost suffocates! These things we have a sense of because there is this "stench" to our lives, but we have a difficult time finding the source of the stench!
God gets at the root of the decay in our lives - not because he wants to cause us pain or suffering. Just as I must begin to stir the compost pile on a regular basis, he must stir up our hearts from time to time. It isn't because he wants us to be "in pain", or to sense how much "decay" is there, but because he wants to bring new life where only death exists right now. My composter will provide nutrient-rich soil to my gardens - in time. As I am faithful to the principles I have learned, and attentive to the needs to keep the stuff turning over, aerating it to avoid the decaying stench, it will become "good stuff" for the gardens in my yard. Just the same, as we are faithful to the principles we learn at the feet of Jesus and submit to the times when he seems to "stir up" the "mess" in our hearts, we will see the "good stuff" he brings forth. Just sayin!