Our culture throws around the word “heart” all the time for different reasons. “You’re a girl after my own heart” or “he’s got heart of gold” or “we need to get to the heart of the situation”. But what is the heart? How do we define it?
Besides the anatomical definition of a muscle that pumps blood, this was the most thorough definition I could gather from the dictionary. Heart: The inner part of any thing; the seat of the affections and passions; the seat of understanding; the seat of the will – hence, secret purposes, intentions, or designs; secret thoughts; secret meaning; conscience.
In other words, it’s the center from which everything else flows. The center of life.What keeps us going. Where our drive comes from. Where our actions stem from. The starting point for every action and resolve. It’s – well – the heart. So, when we talk about whole body education, we need to start with the heart.
When we have toddlers in our care, do we start out by teaching them that 2+2=4? No, of course not. We first teach them to share. We teach them not to hit others. We teach them to obey us. In short, we teach them right from wrong. We start by training their heart.
As these toddlers grow into little kids – 4, 5, 6, 7 years of age – we start taking this training to the next level. Instead of just saying this is right, this is wrong; we begin to quicken their conscience. We ask questions of them like, “do you think you should have done thus and such?” And then we explain the whys behind the right and wrong.
Then these kids become teenagers and their “heart-training” takes on a new form. They know right from wrong (usually), and yes, we still need to prod their consciences every now and again. But now we start to hone in on some of the others aspects, particularly the drive. What drives those teenagers? What really lights them up? Where do their passions lie? How can we guide them to nurture the good drives and root out the bad ones?
After years of growth and pain (agony, even), these teenagers become twenty-somethings: ready to test their heart as they take on the world. This is when all of those years of training and trial-and-error are put to the test. These kids walk out that door into the world, and the weight of right and wrong is put fully on them – they must know the difference and how to act accordingly. This is when their drives and passions steer them as they must make choices that will shape their futures – choices about jobs, education, relationships, and hobbies.
It’s a big world out there. And the battle against and for our hearts is fierce. The question is: how well have you trained? Will you stand against the onslaught or will you be a casualty? Can you face the world and overcome it or will you be trampled by it and have your heart torn apart?
As Christ-followers, we can walk into the world with confidence because we do not have to fight our battles alone. We have One who fights them with us and for us. Oh, that doesn’t mean that our lives will be lollypops and roses. Oh no. Instead, that means we will face the fiercest fighting with the greatest onslaught. But we do not go undefended. Instead, we go having every resource at our disposal. And when we follow our marching orders, those resources are available to us at the drop of the knees. But I do not mean to imply that we will never be wounded in action. Or that there may not be days that it seems that the enemy is gaining ground. No. What we do have is the assurance that our hearts will never be taken – even when everything else is in flames. And because of that, we will always keep fighting. We will keep going. We will never give up. And we will always have our hearts safe with the One who guards it best.
So “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23), surrender it to the King of Hearts, and actively train it to face the battle ahead.