When I read that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9), I often focus on the “desperately sick” aspect, recognizing the darkness of the human heart. But I don’t always consider the rest of the verse. Jeremiah also writes that the heart is deceitful above all things, asking, “Who can understand it?” The heart defies understanding by men. We do not know ourselves like we think we do. Thankfully, as Jeremiah shows, God searches the hearts and tests the minds of men, knowing us better than we know ourselves (Jeremiah 17:10).
Your word: my great undoing, my delight.
I fear to look within, yet fear to stray,
For fear of you (sweet wisdom) shines a light
Upon my path and forces me to say
That I know not my heart or mind so well
As I assumed. This flesh doth e’er deceive.
No strength of will nor want could ever quell
Its tenor regnant. I cannot relieve
My soul from waywardness, for I am bound.
In ev’ry song I sing, I hear its sound.
Discern, speak truth, correct! Let me be found!
You see more clearly than I ever could
And cut more deeply than I wish you would.
I know that all of this is for my good.
Photo by Cathy Mü on Unsplash
We may not sense the abnormality,
For our appearance does not show the flaw;
But let us look within and we will see
A core not in accord with natural law.
Our symptoms show themselves in varied ways,
Outward effects which hint at inner fault.
All people, fixed and fallen, offer praise,
But differ in the objects they exalt.
And thus most men believe that they are whole,
For they, with eyes untrained, cannot detect
The devastating sickness in the soul
Which works to their eternity infect.
Our only hope is heaven’s holy art,
The surgeon who can fix a backwards heart.
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
Christ upon the tree
Christ in place of me
Bearing heaven’s righteous wrath
Sacred Son’s blood: cleansing bath
Salvaging my heart for thee
Clarified the path
Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash
(Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash)
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
I read and re-read this verse multiple times after running across it in my devotional time. I love the wording here for its poetic sound and feel. I love the imagery within the prayer. Even so, my mind kept returning to a question: What does it mean for a heart to be united?
I speak of beauty, but I feel it not;
Emotion cannot pass beyond the clot.
The intellect amasses stores of facts –
Is there any conviction in my acts?
I speak, but maybe merely for the sight.
My motivation is not love, but right.
Lord, take these stone-like aspects; make them flesh.
Remove the fallen focus and refresh
My mind and heart to know and love the truth,
And let me follow with the faith of youth.
Inhabiting eternity, yet near,
You, Lord, deserve allegiance, worship, fear.
By grace through faith, I rest in your great pow’r
And, ransomed, sing, “I need thee ev’ry hour.”
Do we then dare to look within
These hearts inhabited by sin
That we, by looking well, might win
Our lives from this dark gamble?
Or is the truth too much to take
For all the ways it makes us shake
When bones and promises do break
And lives are seen in shambles?
For when we peer behind the screen,
And our reality is seen,
We cannot claim that we are clean
But must confess conviction.
We spurned the fountainhead above
And killed the son who came in love.
Our hands still bear his blood like gloves.
Our innocence is fiction.
We dare not let ourselves believe
That we could e’er our sins retrieve.
Christ’s righteousness we must receive
If we would walk in freedom.
So take no chances with this life
By gambling yours ‘gainst certain strife.
Embrace the Word, the surgeon’s knife,
And leave the liar’s kingdom.
O Father, help my heart to feel
The truth my mind affirms,
And stop the doubts that seek to steal
The hope the truth confirms.
Secure in me the surety
Of your eternal hold,
And pardon the impurity
Of my ill ways of old.
But neither let emotion rule –
It too is slavery –
For then I would be as the fool,
Storm-driven on the sea.
Grant me a balance by your Word
To walk the narrow way,
And let your guidance undergird
My life from day to day.
I long for you to fin’lly see
The stains of this iniquity,
To recognize the travesty,
To turn to Christ our hope and plea.
I pray for you to one day be
Reborn a child of royalty
So that you would be ever free
From sin’s eternal poverty.
The curse’s pow’r no more remains;
Christ’s blood has cleansed the deepest stains.
He condescended to our pains,
Ascended, now forever reigns.
So you need not inhabit holes
Hewn by the hands of hostage souls.
Now turn your gaze to higher goals
As all creation now extols
The one who gave the beggar sight,
Forgave the wrong and showed the right,
Took up the sword and won the fight,
The incarnation of the light.
Is anger justified in you
Who sees your plans frustrated?
Who feels your life berated?
Whose choices are debated?
Do you do well to take the hue
Of anger in your manner?
Of squalor as your banner?
And rage against the Planner?
Are there no better fights to fight
That you should mourn the passing
Of selfishly amassing
These treasures unsurpassing?
Are you so blinded by the night
That fleeting follies fill you?
That Jesus does not imbue?
That you forget your rescue?