By Steve Wickham —
That sentence ends… that you might be wrong.
This is something that God ushered into me late last year as a word for this year. It’s the reminder to weigh matters before I make certain choices, to get the log out of my own eye before I judge, to seek more truth before I decide, and to examine myself akin to the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any hurtful way in me,
and lead me in the ancient way.”
Isn’t it ironic that God already knows our hearts and thoughts? So, as we pray this prayer honestly, we invite an answer and receive divine revelation. This is central to the task of a human living in the image of God. When we’re led in the ancient way, the way before the Fall, we live redemptively, putting back together the broken pieces as best we can, reimagining what was prior to the breakage.
The only way we can do this, in discerning the way forward, is to acknowledge, as individuals, we all do have the power to harm; that this power comes from the hidden longings always waiting to be discerned.
I like what Christian psychologist, Diane Langberg, PhD, says about our need to reflect on our longings:
“Examine your longings; know what they are because they make you vulnerable to fulfillment in illicit places. Our hearts are to be ruled by God alone. No longing, no goal, no human promise is to own us.”
The Christian life is one of discernment, especially in this age of outrage where power subverts so virulently, even as it emanates in our own lives. One of our key tasks is to become aware of those longings, goals and human promises that would garner the praise of our hearts, and repent of them. If we don’t, as Langberg says, those longings inevitably lead us to illicit places.
As broken human beings made in God’s image, we have great power to charm or to harm. We use whatever power is at our disposal to bless or to oppress. Influence runs one way or the other. We may love through the powers of kindness, graciousness, patience and generosity. Just the same, if we’re not spiritually studious and honest enough, we may succumb to the power of deceit and deceive others through manipulation, greatly misusing, indeed abusing, our power. Especially if we’re driven by longings that were good, but where the good is tainted and those once-good desires blur into demands.
This year’s key spiritual task is to slow down, act out of Jesus’ peace, become aware of the longings in our hearts that are not of God, and to repent and “seek the things that are above” (Colossians 3:1).
Here’s an exercise to illuminate our prayer life:
Could it just be that I…
- haven’t got all the information I need?
- am wrong? (I very often am, at least partially)
- need to pray more about something?
- need to press in to God more in discerning a path?