“To say that worship is either about glorifying God or finding personal satisfaction is to put asunder what God has joined together. His glory and your gladness are not separate tracks moving in opposite directions. Rather His glory is in your gladness in Him.” -Sam Storms.
In my life I’ve been part of different denominations within the big C Church. Each of them seemed to emphasize their favourite part of the heart –the lebab- and each were willing to jettison a part another group cherished. Some, admittedly on the extreme edge, said the will is pretty much vetoed by God’s sovereignty, that he is going to do whatever he is going to do with or without our participation or input, thank-you-very-much. Some told me the mind is a source of pride and that serious study is an exercise in distraction. Some taught the emotions are untrustworthy, misleading, and a hindrance to disciplined devotion.
I’ve never managed to successfully ignore any part of my heart for any length of time. When, under pressure, I tried to set aside emotions, for example, in order to please someone else, the conflict without became the conflict within. When a God-given part of our souls is ignored for too long a person experiences, well, some craziness –at least some major stress. At least I sure did. And when it erupted out of me, it was not pretty.
At some point in my past I have been told I am too emotional, I am too intellectual and I try too hard. At some point I have been advised to shed all of these parts of my heart –not all at once of course. The first to go was those old unreliable emotions.
I spent many years forging on without the caboose of emotion, wondering why it never caught up. The faith life was a joyless drudge of duty and responsibilities. One day I finally realized that caboose thing was not even on the same track. I think I left it in a switching yard someplace. My soul needed my caboose. Without it I was lacking the discernment that comes from feeling something is off or the joy in the Lord that is my strength.
I see the same thing happening with some folks who have been bullied by academics. They tend to react by praising anti-intellectualism and raise feeling/sensing or engaging the will to a higher level. Some of these folks have told me I think too much. I am too much in my head. But God gave me a brain for a reason, and if I leave it on the hook with my jacket I also give up one of the tools for discernment –and the joy of discovery whilst chasing a rabbit trail through a genealogy.
I’ve also been told I try too hard, that I should “let go and let God” (whatever that means). It would seem that some of those who have lived under the oppression of legalistic attack are tempted jump to the ditch on the other side of the road and use grace as an excuse for not taking responsibility for the fruit that comes from
stupid unwise choices. But when I disengage my will my jeans don’t fit anymore, I seldom get around to telling people how good God is –and frankly, I start to feel more like God’s victim than his beloved adopted child with a role to play in the family business.
I am not suggesting any merit in being led by wilfulness, argumentative king-of-the-hill theological debate nor unfettered emotionalism. Apart from the transforming love of Jesus any gift of God is perverted when it serves selfish ego and it all becomes a gong show. Our minds, wills, and emotions need to come together in submission to Christ in spirit and truth .
This is what integrity means to me – Jesus helping me get my stuff together and having it all head in the same direction at the same time on the same tracks. My prayer is that the Lord unites my heart to fear His name. I choose to study the scripture because it points to Jesus Christ and he just makes me feel good and want to join in on his plans. I want to put everything in happy submission to the Creator who made me and wants me to use and enjoy every gift he gives to his glory –and my gladness.
Abba, with my whole heart I offer You my praise! Thank you for every good gift and for making me the way you made me.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever. (Psalm 86:11, 12)
I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house. (Psalm 101:1,2)
And as for you, [Solomon] if you will walk before me,
as David your father walked,
with integrity of heart and uprightness,
doing according to all that I have commanded you,
and keeping my statutes and my rules,
then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever…
(1 Kings 9:4,5)