i think i could almost leave that question alone as the entirety of this post and you would get the point. i think. i've been asking myself this question lately, or perhaps rather God has been asking it of me.
you might recall hearing the somewhat cliched advice "follow your heart" from time to time. it might be cliche, but isn't it so true? i mean, you can't go somewhere if your heart isn't in it. you can't do something that has great significance if you don't feel good about it. there is both question and truth in those statements. oh but it's deeper than that isn't it? it's not just how you feel, it's what you're heart is telling you. listen to your heart. it is good. it has been redeemed and made new if you are a follower of Christ, right? or it is at least being made new. either way, we follow our hearts quite religiously.
some people don't quite prescribe to that for all areas of life--but there are at least those some things that are purely "matters of the heart." these are things that the heart rules, logic cannot overcome, will has little power, and it is often unexplainable. i think this is truly the case in certain matters. but at the same time have we completely given those areas over to our hearts, or are we still willing to sacrifice those matters if God would call us to it?
part of the problem comes in that so many people do not really know the voice of God in their own lives, and so they take what their heart tells them to be the equivalent. God certainly can and does speak through our heart as much as he can speak through our heads--though this is a hard thing to really explain. the heart is most of the time our director in life--that's just the way it is, and that's why it is also in a way the deepest god/idol we can have. i know there have been times in my life when my heart desired something and yet i also knew that God was calling me to something else. our heart is not equal to God's will. we all know that, but so often we don't act with that understanding.
why is my contentment with my faith based on how closely God's leading is congruent to the desires of my heart?
what is the difference between our heart and our desires? is the heart just our deepest level of desires? dallas willard talks about how the heart, the will, and the spirit all are essentially the same thing in us. the heart is the core, the center of our being. but what do we have at the center of us? is it our heart? or God's heart? if that makes sense.
do you spend your life following your heart? this seems bad (in a way) when you think of it as your will or desires--like that is selfish. it seems good when you think of it as your spirit. but either way it cannot be the ultimate. we cannot put our faith in our hearts. we can trust them. but we cannot hold it as our ultimate concern, what we orient our entire lives around.
the key to all of this is surrender. we must be willing to let go of the direction of our heart if we truly know that God is calling us to something else. but to be able to do this we must seek to disentangle ourselves from thinking of our deep heart inclinations as the direction of God. they are well and good and God has set us up to be led by them much in life. but deeper is the will of God, and to that we seek to surrender our will and our spirit and our heart. will i follow him when my heart isn't in it? will i follow when every bit of me urges against it? then my heart is not my god.
it isn't easy. and that's an understatement. i guess that's why i pray for God to unite my desires with his heart--then it is a lot easier to do what he wants, because i want it too. and not only do i want it, but i want it more than anything else. and yet i am so far from being there. i can't avoid the despair--it is a part of hope. and while hope must be concrete to really be tangible, i seek to keep my ultimate hope in God, and not in the fulfillment of my own desires and hopes.
let me leave you with a couple of willard quotations. as i pulled this book out to look at some things for this post it strikes me just how good it is, and how i want to reread it sometime soon.
Especially, on the present point, human life as a whole does not run by will alone. Far from it. Nevertheless, life must be organized by the will if it is to be organized at all. It can only be pulled together "from the inside." That is the function of the will or heart: to organize our life as a whole, and, indeed, to organize it around God. And of course life must be organized, and organized well, if one's existence is to be even fairly tolerable to one's self or those around. Every civilization of any type has recognized this. A great part of the disaster of contemporary life lies in the fact that it is organized around feelings. People nearly always act on their feelings, and think it only right. The will is then left at the mercy of circumstances that evoke feelings. Christian spiritual formation today must squarely confront this fact and overcome it.
Obviously, the thoughts and feelings that the will depends on in any given moment of choice cannot be changed in that moment. But the will or heart can change the thoughts and feelings that are available to it in future choices. It is because of this that we are responsible for our character.
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
I John 3:18-24