I hope you have been blessed by the “whole-hearted” focus in this series of articles. This week I will reveal the last four whole-hearted facets from my study. As you read this final article I pray that the closeness of your walk with our Lord grows deeper and deeper.
Turn to Me
“Turn to Me. . .” was the whole-hearted command that first caught my attention. I was studying another topic entirely and came across this quite by accident. After that, I began bumping into the phrase “with all your heart” everywhere I turned it seemed like.
This particular whole-hearted command is repeated twice, once in Deuteronomy and again in Joel
“. . . if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statues which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.“ (Deuteronomy 30:10)
“Now therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12)
To me this sounds a lot like the first whole-hearted facet: seek the Lord. But there must be a difference, or Moses would have used the same word. So what is the difference between seeking and turning?
If you are seeking it indicates that you are looking for something that you want very much, but that you’ve never actually possessed before or that you don’t know where it is. You are on a quest as it were.
Turning though gives the impression that a person is returning to something that they left, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This is the prodigal son of Luke 15; he returned home. When he left home he was seeking something, but when he “came to his senses” he knew just where to go.
When we first come to the Lord, we are seeking for something that we have heard about or seen at work in the life of someone else. We are on a quest to gain for ourselves that precious peace and joy.
When we turn to the Lord, we are actually returning to the One whom we left behind. Perhaps we just got busy, or we thought the road was too difficult. Perhaps someone convinced us that there was an easier way to contentment and joy. We return to the Lord when we realize that all paths in this life are hard, and they are only passable when we connect ourselves with Jesus.
Trust in the Lord
The last few whole-hearted commands only occurs once in the Bible and are not found in Deuteronomy. The first of these is found in a very familiar text: Proverbs 3:5, 6.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Many of you have heard this text before. Some of you have a printed copy of it hanging in your house somewhere. Mine hangs on a wall just by my bed, so that I see it every morning when I wake up.
That is all lovely, but do you and I live it? Do I really trust God whole-heartedly in my life? This is not just that I believe everything He says, but I also trust Him with the most tender parts of my life. I trust His way of dealing with confusing situations. I walk forward in faith when the path is too dark to see.
Do you recognize the life situation where this level of trust in God is difficult? It is like the story of the little girl seated on an airplane that was flying in rough weather above Lima, Peru. It was so bad that the other passengers were praying and sure they were going to die. But this little girl sat quiet and happy. Finally the man beside her asked why she was so calm. She simply said that her father was the pilot, and he had told he would get her home. She trusted him implicitly no matter what the circumstance were like. (The plane landed safely.)
Do you and I trust God like that? I wish I could say that I always trusted God that confidently, but that is not true. But as with every facet in this whole-hearted Christian life, God supplies the ability to obey. But for us to learn how to trust Him, He must allow us to go through some rough waters.
As we learn to trust God whole-heartedly, we experience an unimaginable joy that leads to rejoicing.
Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! (Zephaniah 3:14)
Are you at least a little surprised? I was when I found this in my study of the phrase “with all your heart”. Isn’t this a great command, though? God wants us to rejoice. Not only does He want us to rejoice, He brings the peace and joy that stimulates the rejoicing.
What more can a person say?
God is not looking for ways to make our lives hard and sever. The effects of sin in the world does that. God wants us to rejoice in the beautiful things that He has created and the good things that He brings into our lives. So why do Christians often find it hard to live a whole-heartedly rejoicing life?
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
Ask God to teach you to rejoice in Him with all your heart. Once He has given you His joy you keep it by using it, and you use it by sharing it with others.
Perhaps it is no accident that Acts 8:37 is the final whole-hearted command.
Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” (Acts 8:36, 37)
Believing with your whole heart is where you will naturally end up if you have committed whole heartedly to the previous ones. Each of those bring you closer and closer to this whole-hearted belief and the answer from the beginning of this series:
And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30, 31)
After looking at all the whole-hearted commands, I hope that whole-hearted belief is a bit more practical in your mind. This is belief without doubt.
That can be a challenge when you don’t “see” or “feel” God working in your life or circumstances. To believe that God loves you and means to do you good can be hard. Even just to believe He exists at some points in your life can seem to call for all your will-power.
Just remember though. He who gives you the ability, the strength, to fulfill all the previous whole-hearted commands will give you the fortitude you need to believe with all your heart.
But can you truly dedicate your whole heart to 8 different “duties”?
The conclusion I came to was that these are 8 different sides to the same thing. It is in fact an octahedron, an eight-sided form.
Rather than these being a hierarchy or progressive steps in a process, they are part of the same whole — love. You cannot serve with all your heart if you do not love with all your heart. You cannot rejoice with all your heart if you do not first seek with all your heart. and so forth.
So only one question remains, have you dedicated your all — your whole heart — to Him?