“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

When I first came across this passage, I was a freshman in college, having recently undergone the worst heartbreak of my life to date.  I read it, and wished I had come across it years earlier, so that I could have avoided so much pain in the first place.  And then I made a resolution: I would live by this verse, so that I would not be hurt again.  I would guard my heart above all else.

I metaphorically took my heart, locked it up in a very safe metal chest, and buried it deep like treasure.  Whenever anyone would threaten to dig up my box and get into my heart, whenever I could develop romantic feelings for someone, I would berate myself for not keeping watchful enough guard over my heart.  After all, if the Bible said to do it, I should be much better at it than I was.

Then, just the other day, I was reading a book given to me by one of my high school students, and this verse came up.  Maybe it was a product of the books I’ve been reading recently, tales with knights and magnificent walled cities, but for the first time it struck me that “guard” in Proverbs 4:23 can have an entirely different meaning, and it struck me as a picture:

Imagine a large city, a beautiful city, made of white, shining granite.  The streets are clean and lined with trees and perfumed flowers.  The architecture is elegant, with arches and lovely engravings.  Life fills the city–everything about it is infused with vivacity.  Around this city, there is an indestructible wall with numerous gates to let people in and out.  The gates do not make it vulnerable, though.  There are guards posted at each one, watching to keep enemies out and let allies pass in and out at will.

One’s heart, I think, should be like that city: Beautiful, pure, vibrant, alive, even as it has been made by the love of Christ and the will of the Father.  In this healthy heart, other people can come and go, as relationships wax and wane and as you and others move about the earth.  The guarding of your heart comes from this: Not willingly or wittingly allowing people who will wreak damage on your city to have free reign in your heart.

Then I thought, there are two ways we can guard our hearts like this.  We can be always alert, making ourselves the guards at every entrance.  For a while, this could work, but it will end up being exhausting.  I imagine it will leave us depressed and jaded, always judging people by whatever is our standard for “safe,” and when we accidentally let in pillagers and arsonists, we’ll be left with a razed, robbed heart.

Or we can entrust someone else with the guardianship of our hearts, someone trustworthy and good.  As we know, “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28); that no one can stand against us if He is for us (Romans 8:31); that He is faithful and loving (Deut. 7:9; 1 John 4:8); that He never sleeps or grows tired (Ps. 121:4).  It seems that the Lord is the very best option for someone to guard our hearts.

This is frightening.  I know that I do not always want to give God complete control over who is allowed into my heart.  Sometimes, I’m nervous about what He will do with this power.   On the other hand, I know what a mess I’ve gotten myself into, trying to guard my heart on my own.  I know I cannot do it.  So it is time to take a leap of faith, to surrender my city into the hands of the One who created it.

2 thoughts on “Guarding Your Heart

    1. Hi Carla,

      Thank you for your vulnerability in asking. I greatly respect your boldness.

      I believe in an all-powerful, pure, just, loving, good God, and that He created everything out of nothing (Genesis 1). I believe that when humans were created, we lived in a perfect, loving relationship with God, but that we rebelled against Him and as a result, our relationship with Him was broken. All of the pain, evil, sickness, and every bad thing in the current world is a direct result of our severed relationship from God, the symptoms of missing His presence (Genesis 3).

      I also believe that He loves us so much that He did the only thing possible to restore our relationship with Him: He temporarily put aside His divine power and humbled Himself to become a human, in the person of Jesus (John 1:1-15, 3:16; Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus, who lived a perfect, completely faultless life, surrendered Himself to receive the punishment we deserve for our rebellion by dying on the cross (Romans 5:6-8). I believe that three days later, He rose from the dead, because death could not hold Him down, and because of His death and resurrection, if we believe in Him, we are no longer under the penalty of our rebellion (Matthew 28:1-10; Romans 10:9-10). We can experience a restored relationship with God here on earth, and when we die, we will physically enter His presence at last.

      This is the God I follow. He loves you, and your pain makes Him weep with you. He calls to you, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). He promises peace and love and hope.

      It is God’s desire that we experience the fullness of His will here and now, not just after we die (Matthew 6:10). He also promises that “He will wipe every tear from [His followers’] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

      There is no denying that we do experience death, mourning, crying, and pain to the deepest degree now, and that it is hard, very hard. I honestly have no advice to give you except this: God is the only thing I know of that can bring your heart healing. He loves you more than I can say, more than you can imagine, and just as He has power to heal bodies, resurrect the dead, and control the elements (cf. Luke 8:22-56), He has the power to make your heart new. It is never to late. You are never too damaged, too far gone for Him to deal with.

      “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

      I hope this helps. I pray that you may experience the healing of the Lord, and know the depths of His immeasurable love, goodness, power, and life. Amen.

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