“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”Proverbs 13:12
This is the story of my life, so to speak. It’s a bit of an adaptation from “My Heart, Christ’s Home,” and the allegory, “Hinds Feet on High Places,” both of which I recommend reading.
I allowed Anxiety and Fear to steal my joy for many years. I stood by silently while they ran rampant, made my decisions for me, and led my life. Even after inviting Jesus into my heart, I still allowed Anxiety and Fear to live in it, too. I liked them; they didn’t want to change me. I wouldn’t be able to change, anyway. It came to the place where Jesus was hanging back waiting for me to come home while I went out with my buddies Anxiety and Fear to the many functions and events that came up.
They introduced me to Anger and Pride, and I invited them to come live with us, too. The home of my heart was getting crowded, but after a while, Loneliness came in. It’s brothers Self-Pity and Disappointment came along soon after. I had effectively pushed Jesus out to allow these other “friends” to come and stay, though I still called myself a Christian. Jesus was in there somewhere, right? I could still call myself a follower, even though I had pushed Him so far away I couldn’t see Him or hear His voice anymore.
Finally, my friends called a meeting and convinced me that this Jesus, otherwise known as Love, was a problem. He was pushed far, but not gone completely. I still asked Him for help from time to time and praised Him occasionally, too. But Love was keeping me from myself and my dreams and the life they could give me, they told me. So, I pushed Him out for good with Disappointment and Self-Pity, blaming Him for the shambles my life was in. I spit on Him and shook my fists with Anger. Pride and I said it was my life to live, my dreams were most important, and I could do life without Him. I ganged up on Him with Anxiety and Fear to tell Him He was a liar.
Once He was gone, life became so unbearable. My friends never let me sleep or have a life. And they all laughed at me because they knew I was a prisoner in the home that was my own heart. They murdered Joy and Peace, threw out Patience and , and Anger made me choose between . At the point of utter despair, there was a knock at the door. They tried to tell me not to answer, but something pulled me to my feet. It was Hope.
I had hidden Hope away in the downstairs closet of my heart, but when she heard the knock, she came running. “Open the door!” she shouted. “It’s okay to trust me. I won’t disappoint you.” All seven of my friends pounced on her to silence her, but she her words had set something on fire in me. Faith came up from the basement we’d stuffed her in years ago and pushed me to the door, shielding me from Pride, who had run up to stop me. I opened the door and King Jesus was standing there.
Instantly, I was ashamed. “I’m so sorry I kicked You out, Lord. And, I’m sorry for the mess. My guests are still here and as you know, they are not friends of Yours.” He smiled a smile that melted my insides, “You are forgiven. And this is true. But, if you let me, I can clean up the mess and get rid of your company. I will do the initial cleanup, but it will be your responsibility to maintain what I’ve done. I will never leave you, and you won’t ever have to do it yourself, but you will have to make some difficult choices. It’s up to you.”
Hope and Faith took my hands and nodded their approval. “It’s time,” they said. All of a sudden I realized as I looked around that all my friends were quiet. They were all hiding. I looked back at the King. “Yes, Lord. Please help me. Please come in. Make Yourself at home. Do what You will.” No sooner than I said it, He walked in. A holy blast of light came from His Presence at that first step and set everything in order. All my old friends had been thrown out. Everything was suddenly spotless. It was as though I’d never let them in. I was finally clean, finally free. Joy and Peace were resurrected. Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, and Self-Control all came to stay, too.
Hope had been put away for so long that my heart had become sick. But as soon as I had let Him in, my longing was fulfilled in Him. Jesus is now the King of my heart. I still struggle with my seven friends trying to come back in. There have been times I’ve even let some of them visit again, but I’m learning to kick them out sooner and run to the Lord. Whenever I repent and run to Him, they stay away and I don’t notice them as much when they come around.
It’s a lot of maintenance to keep up a house for the King. I’m learning to barricade the door and the windows, pull the shutters down, and look to Him when someone comes knocking. I make mistakes and have to deal with the pain and the consequences of those mistakes, but He is always there to help me through it and lift my head. I have to constantly clean everywhere, and I have to stay close to Him, but He makes it easy. It doesn’t feel like a chore or like a prison. He is always good, ever faithful, and leads me in the right path. He is my tree of life.
Prayer: God, You know my heart, but search it anyway. Find any wickedness in me and root it out. Help me to submit to You and put my hope in You, knowing it won’t disappoint since Your love has been poured out through Your Spirit in my heart. Forgive me for my mistakes and for allowing other things to take up residence in my heart. Thank You for Your grace and your patience with me which is my salvation. I love you, Amen.