Sunday, October 1, 2023

Guard Your Heart - Prov. 4:28


Good morning.  It's Sunday.  The last day of our school system's Fall Break.

It's been mostly a good respite from work.  The leaves are changing colors and falling, and the temps are finally letting go of their tight grip on us.

I haven't felt the gentle urge to write in a while, but this morning, I read the Scripture above and I felt inclined once again.

Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

How many times have you read that passage?  I've read it for years.  But this morning, it seemed to strike me a little differently.

Scripture is like that you know.  You read it without blinking sometimes, and then other times, it's like an arrow to the chest.

Lately, I've been reading a lot of Billy Graham.  I don't think I ever appreciated him as much as I should have while he was alive.

I read my first Billy Graham book, Angels, when I was married and much younger - maybe 20 years or so ago.  I recently ordered an original copy from Ebay and reread it again.  It was just as good as the first time.

I wondered if the rest of his writing could be as tantalizing, intelligent, and moving.  So, I looked up Billy Graham's discourse and ordered his very first book, Peace with God.  I ordered another vintage copy, and I am now trying to limit myself to reading only one chapter a day!

I find Billy Graham's writings are so simple, so basic, and yet - so moving and profound.  It's one part of my mornings I can't wait to get to (right after pouring that first cup of coffee).  I've debated ordering the book for a few family members for the holidays.  Not because they are unsaved and need to read it, but because it is just that good - it's like food for your soul.  (If you haven't read either of these books by Billy Graham, you can easily find them on Ebay or Amazon.)

This morning, as I was reading my YouVersion devotions, I completed one of them (I normally do two at a time) and needed to find another.  I decided to search Billy Graham.  A list came up.  I started Day 1 today.

This was the verse it presented for today's devotion, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

It is amazing how God knows you so intimately that when you need a Word from Him, He easily grants your wish.  I am never surprised when He shows up so specifically.

Sometimes, we can share our heart with people and God but God is always going to be the one that cradles it softly and will give the heart exactly what it needs.  If our heart needs something revealed or corrected, He will do it gently and with the love, tenderness, and care only a Savior can bring.

On a personal level, I am not one to normally share my heart.  Life just seems easier that way, less messy.

It's the way I was raised in our dysfunctional and very Italian home.  People didn't share deep and intimate feelings; everyone's emotions always seemed raw and exposed, not deep and intimate.  I guess you could say we were all guarding our hearts.

Today, I try to break that family cycle I was raised within.  I try to listen to my boys, other family members, and friends.  I try to hear their hearts.  But still - I'm not sure any of us are sharing the deepest parts of ourselves.

A few days ago, I had an intense moment in prayer with God.  Something was revealed that I had not pondered before.  I stopped mid-prayer and said, "You know what God?  You're right...(insert revelation from God here)."  I broke down in tears and went through the memories with my Savior.

It was God's way of meeting me right where I was and revealing something to me that I had never thought of before.  What a gracious gift to be given new eyes and vision to my past!

That time in conversation with God revealed so many things.  Things about myself.  Things about my Parents.  Things about the people who had entered into my life.

There was definitely a clear pattern.

Not a pattern of choices I had specifically made, but a pattern of the personalities that intersected my life. From birth until now.

Some failures were mine; some where others.  Not of any fault of their own; it's just who they were. But all these people, combined together through my 57 years of living, added up to a heart that had been bruised and broken far too many times.

I needed God, in that moment, to gently and lovingly show me the pattern.  It gave me strength and vision and directive.

This morning, I am still trying to understand the pattern God has allowed to intersect my life.  What I might glean from it; where I might go forward with it.  Was I given the revelation and sight to see the pattern so I might help others coming ahead of me or was I given the knowledge to help myself heal from the past?  I don't know.

Here's what I do know this morning - it's 66 beautiful degrees outside, I have my cup of coffee, there is a gentle breeze blowing, and there is a red cardinal in front of me.  All signs of God's presence surrounding me.

And then, in the middle of all that, this showed up.  Right on time:

Tell me that God is not good.  That He is not listening to us.  That He is not the Great Physician.  All signs swirling around me this morning point to the fact that He is good.  That He is listening to us.  That He is the Great Physician.

I am so very thankful for men like Billy Graham that teach simple truths in a profound way.  I am thankful I stumbled across his writings again and that words he penned decades ago are still helping people - like me - today.

And I am thankful this Fall morning for a loving God who gave us Words thousands of years ago that still apply to all of us today. Amen and amen!

*As a side note, you know I normally always leave a little Southern Gospel at the end of my posts.  I love Jeff & Sheri Easter.  Here is a good one from them featuring Charlotte Richie (who is now a nurse I believe!) called, "In Everything, Give Thanks."  It feels appropriate:

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