What Does it Really Mean to “Guard Your Heart”?

It has been a challenging week of just craziness, but I've been digging deep and was reminded of something today. And I want to share it with you guys.. I keep coming back to the same verse: “… and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”. There’s so much meat in this verse, but today, I want to talk about a particular piece – “guard your heart”.

It seems to me, the best way to protect ourselves in this world, in relationships, jobs, dreams, whatever, is to keep our expectations in check. We’re told to “guard our hearts”. But are we perceiving this in a scripturally accurate fashion?

There are two verses people often quote with regard to guarding one’s heart. The first is Proverbs 4:23. In the NIV it reads “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”. The King James and the NASB, however, choose a slightly different word than “guard”. NASB says “watch” and KJV says “keep”. And we must remember that in the Hebrew, “heart” actually means far more than the seat of our emotions. It’s our mind, our soul, our inclinations, etc. When we consider this, and look at the verse in context, it’s not telling us to guard, in the sense of how we might use this word in modern English. It’s not to tell us to clamp down, be closed off, walled apart… it’s just telling us to be wise. Solomon is imparting wisdom to his son and is telling him to remember his words, embed them in his heart and try to keep himself from going astray. It means that we should pursue the truth of scripture, such as that God loves us, is trustworthy, and is for our good, so we make wise decisions. I don’t believe it means we’re to tense up in self-protection.

If we only consider this first verse, we may be inclined to actually forget the truth of God’s ways, his sovereignty, and his love, and take too much into our own hands. We’ll try to desperately control our environment, and every thought and emotion, thinking we’re doing the right thing. We are told to take every thought captive, but here’s where that, in excess, falls apart and ceases to be of God… How much angst and stress are you putting into trying to figure out how to guard your heart? How crazy are you making yourself trying to figure out what to do and not do, so that you won’t get disappointed or disappoint someone else? That is not God’s will for you. God wants you to trust him, be in the moment, and seek his wisdom and guidance ALONG the way… not build a fortress around you so you can’t experience anything! Do you realize that if you guard your heart too much… you may actually miss what God has for you? You may entirely sideline his will and plan because you’re too busy protecting yourself. We need to learn to be ok with uncertainty and just go with it, maybe even open our hearts up a little, remembering that God is good no matter which way things go.

This is where we bring in the second verse. Philippians 4:6-7… reads “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is a little different than in the first verse and they have to be taken together. Here, it is God’s peace that guards your heart. It is a work of God… not a work of you. God doesn’t want us to live in anxiety and worry. And uncertainty sure causes this, doesn’t it? But instead, God wants us to lay our requests at his feet, thank him for who he is and what he’s already done… and leave it at that, knowing he’ll continue to be good in the future. We don’t pick it up again. We let the peace of laying it down, guard our hearts. This submission is based on that constant insistence that God loves us and is for our good. I’ll say it 1000 times, because it IS the most important thing for us to EVER understand. God loves us with an unmeasurable love. God loves us so much in fact, that we may not get our way, because he knows better. He will do what is for our good. Pray this deeply into your heart. Confess and release all your fears that are keeping you from this truth in the wholeness of your life. That is where you’ll find peace and how your heart will be guarded in a way that you can experience all God has for you, in wisdom, joy, and grace.

You see… the enemy wants us to miss out on all the good things God has by getting us to worry and doubt. Some times we need to sit in uncertainty when we want to RUN!!!! But if we run, we will miss God. We will miss what he wants to show us in the situation, things he wants to teach us, ways he wants to bless us, and ways he wants to use us to bless others. God just wants us to believe him and go with it. He wants us to have the freedom to experience what he has for us without fear. That may mean living in a lot of uncertainty, but don’t wall yourself up to avoid getting hurt. Just be at peace, let God be God, and take it all one day at a time.

Where might you be wrestling with expectations today? Is it a struggle at work? A living situation? A family situation? A relationship that you just don’t know which way it’s going to go? Release it. It’s going to work out exactly as God has planned and it WILL be good, any which way. Just enjoy today. Enjoy God. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the uncertainty with great expectations of what God will do through it. Submit to trusting God, ask him for discernment in wise actions, and leave the rest to him. Remember, his ways our not our ways, so we probably won’t be able to figure it out anyway.

Pray that I just give it all to Him but just don't stop there. Pray for the poor and powerless. The missionaries who are fulfilling his will.

Thank you guys for reading.

faith and not by sight.

I used to think that the most difficult decision I would have to make would be to decide on a college and a major, or perhaps what shoes I would be wearing today (haha), not paying any thought to the black fog that would be mysterious life.
 
Over the past year, my prayer life has strongly revolved around two key points: (1) That God would strategically place me where He wants me to be, especially in terms of school and job(s), and (2) Exodus 33:15, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring [me] up from here.” 
 
A.W. Tozer wrote, “Outside the will of God, there’s nothing I want. Inside the will of God, there’s nothing I fear.”  This has been a vital anthem to my spirit in this season of figuring out life as something other than a student.  It has so much to do with trust- trusting that the choices and places God calls me to are for His glory and my good, even when those choices and people and places don’t glitter and glow.  It’s easy to make decisions in our flesh about what choices seem right, seem good, seem logical.  But so often, God calls us to choose paths that are seemingly crazy to the logical mind. Build an ark. Find a way through the sea.  Take two years off. Take the job with the pay cut. Live in this neighborhood, or this city, or this country.
 
Because here’s the thing- at His core, God delights in turning ashes to beauty, turning the Valleys of Achor in our lives into Doors of Hope (read: Hosea 2:15).  He is enamored by opportunities to transform, to make whole, to make new.  How often do we own that same perspective? I know I often struggle to maintain it.  Looking at my piling bills, the traffic, the slow progress, etc- sometimes I forget to see beneath the dirt and malaise of day to day life to see the glimmer of change, the consistent, quiet breath of the Holy Spirit dancing about me, waiting oh so patiently for my attention, my full, undivided attention.
 
I have no clue who I’m writing this for (beyond God, obviously), but I know that I for one have felt the tension lately of the many opportunities and decisions that await at my doorstep, and I’ve felt the stirring of the Spirit over areas and opportunities that seem lackluster to the bare eye. So for those of you feeling like God has for some reason taken you into “boring” territory, or “dry” seasons, this is my battlecry along with you- look again. Look again, with your eyes on Him.  Sing out to the dry bones, to take life and arise. Because the beauty of grace and faith is not merely that we’re forgiven, but that we’re invited to participate in the act of redemption, in stewarding this supernatural gift of making things new, and whole, and full of His glory.
 
Press in for the full measure. And know that, at any moment, you lack NOTHING; the Father of lights gives good gifts, and you have to know and believe that any relationship or resource not currently in your life is for your best. If He is constantly fighting for our wholeness, we have to believe that this alone is His motivation behind His every choice to give and to take away. He’s an amazing Father of unfailing lovingkindness.

"And he said to Him, 'If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?'" Exodus 33:15-16