Where Is Your KW?
There are two ways of living. And I just discovered that the only difference between them is just two letters – K and W. But where each one of us chooses to place those two letters will make all the difference in the world.
Life is all about priorities. Most of us know that, but it is altogether a different thing to really live it.
Priorities are a slippery thing in life. It is so easy to talk about them, to emphasize what should be our priorities or to point out where others are failing to prioritize properly and the sad consequences that follow. But the priorities that really determine the direction of our lives are not so much the ones we tend to talk about and organize with our minds and expostulate on, but it is the priorities that are largely hidden out of sight most of the time, hidden from our conscious awareness. They are the priorities with deep roots hidden in our heart.
The heart too, is a difficult place to explore. I spent most of my life almost completely unaware of even where my heart was inside. Of course I am not talking about the blood-pumper in the left side of my chest. I am referring to the part of me that I now have come to realize is most likely based in my right brain but also may be closely linked curiously enough to my literal heart in some mysterious way. But that is an entirely different discussion.
A number of years ago God arranged for me to attend a seminar some distance from my home with my wife. This seminar was conducted by a man concerned about saving marriages. I found some of his theories a bit disturbing in more ways than one. But the thing that really grabbed my attention more than anything else that day was an exposé and a careful Bible study he presented on the existence of a part of us called our “spirit” and our need to be aware of the condition of that spirit. That part of our makeup is what produces emotions and has great influence over our actions and attitudes.
I was surprised and amazed that I had never really heard anyone explain this before to me. It became so obvious that this was an vitally important subject, especially in my relationship with God and with others, and yet my religious training had totally missed making me aware that I even had such a distinct part that I needed to be aware of and relate to effectively.
This man gave some very practical ways of being aware of the condition of our spirit and from that day I determined to begin practicing trying to tune in to my own spirit, to even just being aware of its existence and to learn to be more conversant in the language and ways of the spirit. I began to realize that my heart was the seat of my spirit and that God wanted me to be much more aware of the condition of my heart as well as be more aware of those around me. After that day I noticed that the Holy Spirit would unexpectedly nudge me at times reminding me to just check in what was going on in that part of me and sometimes He would warn me to take immediate action whenever I was in danger of running roughshod over either my own heart or someone else's with my own agenda or over-enthusiasm.
Through the years since then, I cannot say I have become an expert on heart issues. Sadly I have a very long ways to go to be very sensitive pay better attention to other people's hearts and spirits, but at the same time I do know that I have gained much experience in just having an awareness at least of the existence of my heart and spirit and can better calculate somewhat what may be going on there. In the process I am also slowly learning to be a little more sensitive to clues about what may be going on in other people's hearts, though that requires a great deal more cooperation with and paying attention to the Spirit of God, who only knows the heart and can read it plainly – even my own.
Most of the heart's ideas, priorities, values, desires and beliefs are usually too far beneath the surface for anyone to discern very well. That is why this is an area where it is vital to learn to coordinate with the Creator of our hearts if we really want to know more of the truth about what is going on in there. The heart can hide a great deal of misinformation, pain and fear as well as being capable of forming intensely powerful bonds with other hearts beyond our comprehension. Some of these bonds are very healthy and others are formed through acts of sin that come back to plague us and handicap us later in life until we allow them to be broken by the power of God.
The heart was designed by God as the most sacred part of our makeup and is the primary connection point designed for communicating with His heart. Our heart is also the part of us that can have the strongest connections with those around us that we love, but is also the most vulnerable part of us that can harbor dark emotions and motives when it is allowed to be filled with lies and selfishness. Because the heart remains largely out of view and is unexposed most of the time, that secrecy allows it to foster and incubate ideas and desires that would horrify most of us if we could see those things plainly with our minds. By the time most people discover what has been breeding in their heart, it begins to take over the life and they begin to act out the selfishness and violence that can grow there, it is often very late to accomplish repairs or rescue it from the ugliness that has grown deep roots there for years.
At the same time, it is equally true that the heart is most easily misjudged by people. Some of those we consider the most unredeemable, whom we consider to be wicked and maybe even hopeless, have actually built up around tender, wounded hearts a strong wall of pride, fierceness or even humor to keep people from getting too close to their heart and potentially wounding it even more. A wise person will learn to see past the outward ugliness, either physical or emotional, and learn to have discernment of a heart that may be just the opposite of what appearances might suggest on the outside.
This dichotomy is equally true about those who are very careful to manage their behavior, who spend great effort keeping up appearances, particularly a religious one. There is even a British sitcom that goes by that name, Keeping Up Appearances, and illustrates the common human penchant for the way most of us live life seeking to focus on the outward activities centered around what people think about us more than paying attention to the real issues of the heart.
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)
My life has changed a great deal since I became aware that I have a distinct part of me called a spirit and that its main seat in me is my heart. But it has changed dramatically the way I relate to religion and to God. I quickly began to realize that this hidden part of me that I had been so clueless about most of my life was the very part of me that God wanted to relate to the most. It makes sense that the enemy wants to keep us blinded to this fact so that we will remain largely disconnected from God while thinking that everything is alright, that having an intellectual religion alone is sufficient to please God. But that is like being married to a spouse but insisting that there is no need for emotional or physical intimacy or even a need to live together. As long as there is a paper saying we are married that should be sufficient and we can just go on living our own separate lives and do our own thing without spending time getting to really know the one we claim to be married to.
Jesus talked about this sort of deceptive religion in many of His teachings, but particularly in a reference to the day of judgment that should wake all of us up abruptly to take a hard look at our own relationship with Him.
Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.' (Matthew 7:21-23 NRSV)
This brings me back to where I began. Yesterday I heard a very disturbing story from a minister who found himself becoming irritated with a store manager while trying to get a deal that the store refused to go along with. In his irritation he made some comments that a few minutes later he suddenly came to deeply regret as he got into his car and noticed in the mirror that he was wearing a hat with the words “Know Jesus” written across the front. He immediately came under deep conviction of how badly he had shamed the name of the One he claimed to represent and broke into tears. He then went back into the store, looked up that same manager and profusely apologized and sought to repair as much as possible the damage he had caused God's reputation through his selfishness.
When this pastor first stated what was on his cap I was a bit confused since I did not properly visualize the right spelling of the words. At first I thought he was saying “No Jesus” and I wondered why a pastor would be wearing a cap like that until he actually spelled out the word know. (I know, I'm a little slow sometimes) But as I pondered this story more this morning, it suddenly came to me the difference between these two options we have for living our lives. They are only different by two letters, but the placement of those two letters will make all the difference, not only in the world but for all of eternity.
A few years ago a brand came out that became quite popular called “No Fear”. As I thought about that something clicked in relation to this story, I suddenly realized that there are really only two options in life that might be expressed very simply. These two options may be expressed in the following two formulas. The choice is entirely up to us.
No Jesus = Know Fear
Know Jesus = No Fear