My heart has gotten me in serious trouble. Fortunately, that’s no big news to my Creator. Jeremiah wrote that our hearts are more prone than anything else to get us into trouble.
One of the areas in which my heart has gotten me into trouble has been right at the front door. I have opened wide the door to my heart and given too much of it away…to a person, a passion or a pursuit. And then, because there was little room left for anything or anyone else, I barred the door of my heart making it hard for other people to connect with me or know me deeply. Sometimes I became confused, trying to figure out how much of my heart it was appropriate to give to different people. If someone became demanding or jealous or possessive I struggled to set appropriate boundaries. I also gave too much of my heart away when it was easy, while neglecting to step out of my comfort zone or put in the extra effort needed when heart connections were more challenging.
I struggled with knowing how much of my heart was appropriate to give to someone or something.
Last fall, during a speaking engagement, I had the privilege of spending a few nights in a grand and beautiful home. The hostess graciously welcomed me and my friend in, giving us a full tour of the sprawling home and then showing us to our beautifully appointed guestrooms with views of the water. She encouraged us to help ourselves to the waterfront fitness center, the indoor pool and the kitchen. She even graciously allowed us to wash some clothes in her large laundry room. We were made to feel at home, loved and welcomed.
But our hostess never offered us a key to her home or divulged the security code. She didn’t invite us to move our things into her luxurious master suite or to sleep in her king-sized bed. She gave us warm hospitality, but she didn’t give us her home.
When I give anyone or anything, besides God, my heart, He calls it idolatry. This betrayal offends my loving and gracious God deeply. He also warns that I will eventually end up in bondage to that which has captured my heart. Nothing and no one besides my Redeemer is a safe keeper of my heart.
Exactly how much of my heart can I give to someone else? Shouldn’t I give my family and dearest friends sizable chunks of my heart? As long as I divvy out the space in my heart in an equitable way, but leave ample room for God, won’t my heart be healthy and risk-free and open?
Listen up. When I give people, passions or pursuits large chunks of my heart, it’s the same as if my hostess had given me a wing of her home, a space in her garage and a key to the front door. Granted, that would have been a sweet set-up for me, but eventually it would have caused my hostess frustration. She would have lost control of her home and would not have been at liberty to share it with others as freely. She would have been, in a sense, in bondage to me.
Sweet friend, we are wise to learn that we should, in fact, give our heart only and completely to God. Give Him the master suite and the authority that comes with it, the key and the security code. Give Him the title. Give Him the whole heart.
God repeatedly directed His people,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5, italics added)
Well, what about those people and passions and pursuits? Don’t they get a room?
When you love God with all your heart, He becomes the master of your heart. Then He, the Host, graciously opens the guestrooms of your heart so that you can love others honorably and engage in your passions and pursuits with balance and freedom. He gives you a sweet and healthy love with which to love others, one that doesn’t lead to bondage. He puts each pursuit in its proper place and gives each passion a holy fire. And you find yourself experiencing such a sweet and satisfying freedom. Your house is in order and your heart is full…but not crowded.