One of my favorite verses in the bible comes from James 4:8, and it simply says Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Sounds like a simple concept, doesn’t it?Imagine that every step you take toward God, he takes a step or two toward you. Calculate if you can — all the times in the past year that you’ve taken steps toward God — whether for protection, direction, or connection, would you say that you actively sought God 10 times? 20 times? 50 times?
Well consider this. If you prayed at least once each day, that’s 365 days and 365 steps toward God. Perhaps you or someone you know went through a difficult time last year, so you carved out a little time to pray for that situation. If that describes you, take a few more steps toward God. Maybe you even asked others to pray for that special intention. Take a few more steps. Did you pray for traveling grace for anyone taking a trip? If so, imagine yourself taking a few more steps. As part of this reciprocal relationship with God, remember that when you move, he moves closer still.
If you continue along this track, eventually you collide — the heart and its Creator. Can you imagine that? In preparation for that time, we should set some goals for our heart’s health so that we’re in the best possible shape to survive the impact. This is the time of year that we spring into action and set goals to improve our physical selves. There’s no time like the present to set a few spiritual goals as well. Here are six simple heart goals along with your spiritual meal plan. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
- Tenderhearted – Aspire to have a heart that is tender. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ~ Ephesians 4:32
- Pure Heart – This must become a lifestyle. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. ~James 4:8
- Firm Heart – This will take some work if you have trust issues. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. ~ Psalms 112:7
- Tranquil Heart – We all yearn for peace in our lives. A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. ~ Proverbs 14:30
- Trusting Heart – This, too, will take some time if you have trust issues. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. ~Proverbs 3:5
- Loving Heart – Work toward this goal with those who detest you. Ignoring them is not an option. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. ~Deuteronomy 6:5
How do you feel about these goals? Are they achievable? The best way to approach lofty goals is to create action steps for achieving them. Choose the toughest one, and start there. Everything else will fall into place. Since I want to be heart-healthy too, I’d start with number six. This is how I would approach it.
Step 1: Identify your goal. My goal for the year is to have a more loving heart.
Step 2: Why is this important? I want to be obedient. God doesn’t ask us to love just those who love us back. He wants us to love the mean and surly guy across the street who stole your trashcan and didn’t give it back (True Story). With obedience comes rewards.
Step 3: Pray for God’s Guidance. Make a short list of people who are hard to love, those who you would rather ignore, and those who have hurt you. Ask God to bless them — to mend their troubled hearts. You just took a couple giant steps toward God. Imagine him moving closer still.
Being heart-healthy is hard work, and it can’t be achieved in a day. As long as we continue to take steps in the right direction, we’ll achieve our goals one by one. We’ll grow closer to the ones we hold dear, and we’ll mend fences with those who broke our hearts. We’ll even learn to forgive trespassers and trashcan thieves. Others will notice your progress — just like they did when you lost weight, but they won’t be able to pinpoint the change; they’ll just know that something is different. You’ll even begin to see the transformation yourself if you continue to move in the right direction. Guess who else will see the transformation. Thanks to this heart-health journey, he is closer still.
May blessings abound! <3
NOTE: Bible verses courtesy of biblegateway.com and Featured Image courtesy of Google Royalty-Free Images