What to do with a divided heart?
“Whatever may disturb the purity of heart and tranquility of our mind, then, however useful and necessary it may appear, must be avoided as harmful,” said John Cassian in I.VII.1 of The Conferences which I began today.
The goal of our life is purity and in the end we receive eternal life says Cassian. He asks “What is your goal? What drives you to endure all these things so willingly?”
When I look at Paul’s single minded focus in Philippians 3 to which Cassian refers, I have some hard questions to face.
- Do I really believe that I need to avoid whatever would disturb my purity of heart and tranquility of mind? Answer: well, maybe
- Am I willing to do so? Answer: do I have to avoid all those things?
- Do I truly long for purity of heart? Answer: if I can keep holding onto a few distractions
- Do I have an divided heart? Answer: Sure sounds like it!
No coincidence that I am reading in Psalm 84 this week since verse 2 says, “My soul longs, yes faints for the courts of Yahweh. My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” Sounds like an undivided heart yearning for purity, doesn’t it? I seem to want my distractions more than purity.
- disordered desires
- pleasing other people
- fear and anxiety about the future
Many of us live lives of inconsistency
With divided loyalties
Distractions that lead us astray
From pure and simple devotion to Christ
Can I pray that God would give me the desire for a pure heart that the Psalmist had in Psalm 84. So that I may be a swallow finding my rest in you (3-4); that I may find my strength in you (6-7); that you may be my ambition (10) and sun and shield (11) and that I may believe, truly believe that you withhold no good thing from your people (11).
I find comfort in Colossians 3:13, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and work for his good pleasure.” Seems to take the pressure off of me.
And then I read in Colossians 3 verses that seem to tell me what to do even with a divided heart
- Seek the things above 1
- Set my mind on things above 2
- Put to death what is earthly 5
- Put them all away 8
- Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience 12
- Put on love 14
- Let the peace of Christ rule 15
- Let the Word of Christ dwell in me richly 16
Christ is my life 4
My life is hidden with Christ 3
I am serving the Lord Christ 24
I will see an inheritance 24
Christ is in me, the hope of glory 1:27
And so, even with a divided heart, “I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (1:29).