I’ve heard this phrase an uncountable amount of times. I’ve heard it many different ways, too. “Follow your heart,” “do what makes your heart happy,” “trust your heart,” “listen to the whisper of your heart,” etc.
It’s the fairytale expectation we have for how our life could and should play out before us, if we dream big enough and have enough passion for it. But in the midst of a “follow your heart” movement, we’ve formed this broken perception of what our hearts and minds should be centered around. Rather than centering THEM around GOD’S will, we center what we perceive MIGHT BE “God’s will” around what THEY desire, changing how we prioritize the importance of our relationship with God and that of our worldly desires, setting God on the bookshelf to collect dust.
This idea that our hearts should be guiding beacons of light in this sea of life has been lulling our minds to sleep since we were born. It’s everywhere. In advertisements, commercials, movies, TV shows, books, songs, and more.
We’ve grown used to the idea that if we believe hard enough and trust our hearts, that it will come true, ending with fireworks and Prince Charming on a white steed. But that isn’t reality. It’s not our purpose or design. God has so much more for us than simply the desires our own hearts can dream up.
What does the LORD say about following my heart? What ARE the tendencies of my heart? Is it really my HEART I should be trusting in? In what SHOULD my heart be rooted in? What is the CENTER of my own heart?
A HEART AFTER SELF
We are a fallen people. Because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we now experience the heavy weight and deceptive nature of sin, and our hearts have been stained with it. But through Christ, we have been made clean. We have become white as snow.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26 ESV)
Our hearts fail. Our flesh fails. We are not able to overcome the weights of this world alone. God ALONE is our strength, for those who believe in Him and accept Jesus as Lord. Though our own hearts bear the burden of a sinful nature, we have redemption and restoration through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
Our own hearts are “… deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ‘I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds’” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 ESV).
If I were to simply follow the whispers of my heart, my emotions apart from Christ, EVERYTHING I do would be without meaning. All in vain. The Lord sees the depths of our hearts, all the yuck and filth, and still offers to purify them and make us whole. Wow!
“Emotions change nearly as often as the nighttime sky; God’s truth never changes.”
– Paula Marsteller
In HIM ALONE I have strength of heart and peace in knowing His truth is unchanging. And if my heart is first rooted in HIM rather than in my own failing flesh, then I can trust that my heart’s desires are also His desires, and I can trust His guidance through my heart.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 ESV)
A HEART AFTER THE WORLD
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:24 ESV)
God’s Word says that what we treasure will be the center of our hearts. What are the treasures in your life? What do you value the most? Is it the opinions of others? Wealth? Social status? And what are the things you do not treasure?
If our treasure lies only in things of this earth, then it is all vanity. Everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes). It is worthless. It is meaningless. This world is not perfect. And our desires for things of this world will not be perfect, holy, and completing.
“You must keep all earthly treasures out of your heart, and let Christ be your treasure, and let Him have your heart.”
– Charles Spurgeon
This earth has NOTHING that can satisfy apart from the treasure that is Christ.
“And there is nothing
There is nothing
More precious, more worthy
May I gaze deeper
May I stand longer
May I press onward to know You Lord.”
‘There Is Nothing’ – Laura Story
If you treasure the things of this earth (wealth, relationships, social status, etc.) more than you cherish and seek to grow your walk with Christ, than you will find the void more emptying and draining with each passing day.
“The heart of the problem is the problem with the heart.”
The reason we cannot trust our hearts to guide us apart from Christ is that the very reason for the struggles of this earth is because of the nature of our imperfect, sinner’s hearts.
A HEART AFTER GOD
“Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.”
– George Mueller
When our hearts are willing to let the Lord guide them and make them whole through the salvation gift offered to us through Christ, then we know we have the strength in Him to overcome the sinful desires of our hearts.
So really, if our hearts are rooted in Christ, we can trust that our hearts are guiding us correctly, because He, in turn, is guiding them. But if our hearts are rooted in the things of this earth, then we should have no confidence that our hearts are capable of guiding us through our lives.
So then “follow your heart” should really be “follow God with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV).
David was called a man after God’s own heart, which is holy, just, good, merciful, faithful…all the things our hearts cannot be apart from Him. If our hearts are patterned after Jesus, everything we do flows from that. And God delights in a heart that follows hard after Him!