Create in me a pure heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
This scripture has been an anchor for me most of my life. Almost like a homing device when I’ve felt my heart begin to wander. It is also the first scripture our oldest daughter, Lauren, learned and memorized when she invited Jesus into her heart at 9 years old. It’s easy to read, easy to love and easy to memorize. But it’s difficult to actually apply when the unknowns of life seem overwhelming.
To bring this whole concept of having a ‘heart of gold’ home today, I’d like for us to take a quick look at a scripture in three different translations and then dissect several key words within them that will help us better understand what life’s challenges are actually accomplishing in our everyday lives.
1 Peter 1:7
TLB: These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of His return.
MSG: I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of His victory.
NOG: The purpose of these troubles is to test your faith as fire tests how genuine gold is. Your faith is more precious than pure gold, and by passing the test, it gives praise, glory, and honor to God. This will happen when Yeshua Christ appears again.
With these verses in mind, let’s dig a little deeper into the following definitions. They will build one on another. And as they do, we will watch the truth of God’s word come alive.
Heart: the central or innermost part of something
Pure: free of anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from foreign or inappropriate elements; clear of blemish; clean; spotless; untainted with evil; containing only one characteristic for a trait; completely refined
Refined: to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities; to purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured; to bring to a finer state or form by purifying; to make more fine, subtle, or precise; to become pure, elegant, or polished
Gold: a precious metallic element, highly malleable and ductile, and not subject to oxidation or corrosion. something likened to this metal in brightness, preciousness, superiority, etc.: a heart of gold
Malleable: capable of being extended or shaped by hammering or by pressure; adaptable
Ductile: able to undergo change of form without breaking; capable of being molded or shaped
Oxidation: to lose freshness after prolonged exposure
Corrosion: to eat or wear away gradually as if by gnawing; to impair; deteriorate
When I look at all of these definitions, I can see that there is a continuous process in our lives where God wants to transform our innermost being by extracting all of the things that interfere with our hearts being totally surrendered to Him. He wants our hearts to be free from impurities and become precious and polished like gold…capable of being shaped by pressure; as well as undergo that change, without breaking or losing its freshness, after that exposure to the fire that trials present. He wants my heart to be so pure toward Him that there is no chance that the concerns of this world would gradually eat or wear away my faith in Him.
“Everything you are going through is preparing you for what you asked for.”
A song has been in my head for weeks. At the most random times, the lyrics become profoundly etched into my thoughts and cast fresh light on how I view things. Here are the chorus lyrics:
Help me want the healer more than the healing;
Help me want the savior more than the saving;
Help me want the giver more than the giving;
Help me want you Jesus, more than anything.
Help me want you Jesus, more than anything.
– Lyrics from Natalie Grant’s More Than Anything
More than anything. It’s a beautiful song—and wonderful thought to think on. But is it a good measure of my relationship with God? Do I want Him more than anything? If I step back and take an honest look at where my mind is most days—it may not be an accurate representation of my heart’s desire. My husband and I have been in a holding pattern for more than a year. And at times, it rules my thought life. But that line, “Help me want you Jesus, more than anything”, keeps challenging me to evaluate the purity of my heart. I have found myself —sometimes moment to moment— asking God to renew my spirit. Asking Him to invade my thoughts. To pursue me. To change me in order for me to want Him more than anything. While praying one morning, I literally wrote the following in my journal:
Jesus, I want you more than________________________.
Then, one by one, I began to fill in the blanks with all of the desires of my heart—and I mean every last one of them! I filled two pages. I just let it flow until I couldn’t think of anything else to write. The deep longings that fell onto those sheets of paper ranged from emotional needs to material things to wishing for do-overs in my life. After I wrote them, I went back and re-read them. But this time, I added each one into the blank when I read it.
“Jesus, I want you more than I want my hair to quit falling out.”
“Jesus, I want you more than my comfort zone.”
“Jesus, I want you more than clear direction on……”.
“Jesus, I want you more than time with my kids and grandkids.”
“Jesus, I want you more than I want do-overs.”
“Jesus, I want you more than speaking opportunities.”
“Jesus, I want you more than longer eyelashes.”
The list went on and on….and I plugged every single SPECIFIC “rival” into that blank. Each so honest…many too personal for me to list here. But the last blank was this:
“Jesus, I want you more than ANYTHING.”
After I filled in that last blank, I felt an urge to look up the definition of anything. This is what I found.
Anything: a thing of any kind; in any degree; to any extent; in any way; all things included; no matter what
I had to laugh for a moment. From looking at my list, it looked like I had a pretty good grasp on the concept of “anything”. But the more I stared at it, the more overwhelmed I became. How in the world could I really surrender ALL of these “anythings”? Some felt too precious to let go of. Some to scary to lose control of. Some to urgent to walk away from. Within moments, that previous giggle turned into tears. Then that lyric played in my mind again, “Help me want you Jesus, more than anything.”
However, for the first time the words HELP ME stood out more than the rest of the line. I began to realize this was the most powerful part of the statement! Yes, it is insightful to recognize that putting anything before Jesus was counterproductive to my peace and my daily walk with Christ. But those two little BIG words were the key to implementing that truth in my life. I had the knowledge and insight. But I wasn’t experiencing the liberating results of that knowledge because I wasn’t tapping into those two powerful words, HELP ME. They are the reminder that I can’t muster up enough strength on my own to put these priorities in order. I needed the HELPER. I needed to tap into the power of the precious Holy Spirit that was given to me when I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. He is the one who bridges that gap between the submission of our selfish desires and God’s purposeful plan to make us more like Him. Because truth be known, all desires aren’t bad. Many times, we are asking for the right things, but its a timing issue. With others, maybe they aren’t necessarily bad, they just aren’t His best. God wants to bless us and give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). But the key here is having our desires sifted until they match His. That is where the Holy Spirit comes in and fills the gap between our submission and God’s transforming power.
Let’s pause for a minute. In fact, why don’t we stop for a moment and take a deep breath. Are you at a place in your life where too many things don’t make sense? Are you finding your questions far outway any answers you so desperately need? Do you find yourself striving to make Jesus number one? Are you in such a complacent place in life that you don’t even care if Jesus is first? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I encourage you to do your own “fill in the blank” exercise. Then work through it until there is no blank “left unturned”. When you are finished, join me in asking:
“Holy Spirit, will you help me want Jesus—-more than anything?”
That simple question invites divine perspective to wash away anything that wants to erode your faith. Anything that wants to steal the truth that God loves you. Or that He sees you. That He has not forgotten you. That He can forgive you. That His plan for you is being worked out at this very moment. And that your heart is in good hands with Him.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
The older I get, the more I realize, the sincere desire of my heart is actually for Him to be delighted in me. I am finding —just as you will—-that when I fill in my “blank spaces” with that unrivaled desire, my opportunity to be a delight to others on earth begins to flourish as well. I love the thought of having a glimpse of the Lord sitting on His throne in heaven, chatting with all the angels as He lovingly points down toward earth and says with a big smile on His face: “Look at my pride and joy down there. You know, she trusts me with everything and it gives me great joy! Yep, she’s shiny, alright! Just look at her heart of gold.”
Precious Father, create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. Refine us, just as one would refine gold. Make our hearts so shiny that when we spend time with others, your reflection is undeniable. Transform our deepest desires until we want you, Jesus—MORE THAN ANYTHING.