David Crowder begins a recent worship song with these words:
Here’s my heart, Lord… Here’s my heart, Lord… Here’s my heart, Lord… Speak what is true.
We can often be tempted to think we have everything worked out. For Heaven’s sake, we are adults! We know who we are and what we’re doing; we have a grip on life, we have the situation under control and we know how to steer the ship. We hold fast to our self-sufficiency and self-confidence. A relativistic, my-truth-your-truth kind of atmosphere inculcates this noxious, primal, go-it-alone approach. But in reality if we hold fast to only ourselves, we hold fast to sand.
The fact of the matter is that we are all in over our heads. On our own, the powers at work against us (the world, the flesh and the devil) are too stinkin’ powerful. Every day there are opportunities to slide into believing we are not fundamentally good, not worth much at all, not eternally loved. We can to begin to accept that we are reducible to our passions, thoughts, productivity, success, sexuality, instincts or bodies. Lies, lies and more lies make the waters we swim in too murky – clouding our vision until we can’t find the surface and start to drown. And we are deceiving ourselves if we think it doesn’t get to us. What’s more, as the seductive works of darkness surrounds us, our fallen nature even tends to prefer this darkness to the light.
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)
We believe the lies, and so we walk in darkness.
In the midst of these realities, what we need to do is this: come to the Lord and say, with David Crowder, “Here is my heart, Lord… Speak what is true.” We need to hear from Him the Truth about reality and what and who we really are. We need this time with Him to refresh our tired bones. We need to constantly – each and every day – have our minds renewed and en-light-ened by He who is the “light of the world” so that we don’t have to “walk in darkness” (John 8:12). Without this daily ‘turning to the Lord,’ we can be nothing but slaves:
Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (John 8:31).
Only continuously consuming the word of Jesus can make us free. Free to be happy. Free to love God. Free to love other people. Free to go make disciples.
Jesus tells us flat-out that this is what a disciple must do. We must let Him speak the truth to us. We must eat the food He places before us. We must “continue in [His] word.” There is no other way for a disciple to follow his Master and Teacher. He must lead us, guide us, renew us, encourage us, enlighten us, nourish us, arouse us and send us.
So how can we continue to abide in the heart of Jesus? Let take four solid practices with some wisdom from il Papa.
Daily Prayer. There is nothing more important in life.
The Lord tells us: ‘The first task in life is this: prayer.’ But not the prayer of words, like a parrot; but the prayer of the heart: gazing on the Lord, hearing the Lord, asking the Lord. (Pope Francis, 10/8/13)
Even today there is a dictatorship of a narrow line of thought, which kills people’s freedom, their freedom of conscience…Be humble and pray, that the Lord always gives us the freedom of an open heart, to receive his Word which is joy and promise and covenant. And with this covenant move forward. (Pope Francis, 4/10/14)
St. Francis de Sales – one of the very few Doctors of the Church ‘specializing’ in the spiritual life – recommends for busy, active, in-the-world, involved and engaged lay people to pray one hour a day.
Challenging? Yes. Doable? Yes.
Reading the Bible. Other books are great, but no other book is the Word of God. No other book is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12). And ignorance of no other book leads to ignorance of Christ (see St. Jerome).
We need to equip ourselves with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17). Thank God Pope Francis is doing exactly that:
The Eucharist. It is our daily bread that sustains our life and heals our wounds.
The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium)
Community. Right before His death, Jesus prayed for us before the Father, asking for us what was most on His heart: that we might continue in truth and unity. He prayed:
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth…The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:18-19, 22-23)
Truth and unity (implied: community) are two wings on the same bird – with one must come the other. We cannot walk on our own. We cannot come to see the truth on our own.
Apart from walking side-by-side with other disciples, other brothers and sisters in the Lord, we are like red-hot coals removed from the fire and placed on the hearth: all too quick to become ice-cold. We need things like men’s and women’s groups, fellowship time, Bible studies, Alpha Courses – time intentionally spent being formed as a disciple.
Brothers and sisters, let’s “continue in [the] word!” Recognizing our fundamental, existential dependence on the Lord, let’s continue as a community to come to Him, basting ourselves in His word, pleading with open hands, “Lord, speak what is true.”