Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Thou rulest the raging of the sea; when the waves thereof arise, Thou stillest them.”
“Fierce was the wild billow, dark was the night,
Oars labored heavily, foam glimmered white;
Mariners trembled, peril was nigh:
Then said the Son of God, ‘Peace it is I!’
Jesus, Deliverer! Come Thou to me;
Soothe Thou my voyaging over life’s sea;
Thou, when the storm of death roars sweeping by,
Whisper, O Truth of Truth, ‘Peace, it is I!’”
Today’s Study Text:
“So give your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart.”
1 Kings 3: 9
“A Hearing Heart”
“The heart is as divine a gift as the mind; and to neglect it in the search for God is to seek ruin.”
Robert Hugh Benson
What do I think it means to have a “hearing heart”?
Have I ever felt I have “heard” God’s voice or another person’s pain with my heart?
“Let us learn to cast our hearts into God.”
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
“The capital of Heaven is the heart in which Jesus Christ is enthroned as King.”
Sadhu Sundar Singh
When God came to Solomon and offered to give him anything he requested, as we found out yesterday, Solomon asked for the gift of understanding. But the heavenly treasure of understanding wasn’t the only thing Solomon longed for. He also desired that in combination with a thoughtful, discerning mind, that God would bestow upon him a “hearing heart.”
I love the phrase, “hearting heart,” which we find translated in the Amplified version of the Bible. The reason I find the union of mind and heart so interesting is that for many years, in my own life, I separated the heart and mind. And I have a suspicion that I’m not alone in making this mistake.
I’d like to explain the situation I found myself in, which led me to make a very distinct division between my heart and my mind.
Growing up, for whatever reason, call it a genetic inclination if you wish, I was a shy, quiet, reserved young girl. You might have even thought I was withdrawn. I was the girl given to book-learning. I constantly was reading and studying. Let me say, all the studying certainly paid off for I had stellar grades throughout all my educational endeavors. But the more I studied, the more I came to rely on my mental thought process. More frequently, all of my decisions became ones of the mind. Nothing in my life was spontaneous. I pushed my emotions down. Everything had to be thought-out and planned, down to the smallest detail, to the point where I became, what I will call, a mind snob. People who let their emotions, or what I identified as their hearts rule them, were in my opinion weak and way to easily inclined to run amok in my world of very detailed decision-making.
But as happens as time passes in our lives, I hit a speed bump which completely turned my world upside down, for even with all my well laid out mental strategies, I knew that to eschew what my heart was telling me, would have serious consequences. Yet, with all the facts in front of me, I found my mind and heart in complete disharmony.
It was after living with the consequences of a number of bad decisions that I began to look at God’s Word again, and gain enlightenment from heaven’s well of wisdom where we find that the mind and heart can be brought into unity, especially when we ask our heavenly Father to guide us.
Solomon’s request of God for an understanding mind, combined with a hearing heart is a perfect example. It was St. Jerome who noted that Plato, the great philosophical “thinker,” claimed he located the soul of man in the head. But as Jerome observed, it was Christ Jesus who said our soul, the core of our being, is in our heart. This truth was emphasized by Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said: ‘the ‘heart’ in the Biblical sense is not the inward life, but the whole man (or woman) in relation to God.”
As we come back to young Solomon’s request from a generous God, he not only wanted to make his decisions based on what his mind thought out and discerned, he also longed for a heart that could hear – or as the Hebrew tells us – a perceptive heart, for the phrase “understanding mind” and “hearing heart” have as their foundation the same Hebrew word, “shawmah.” What is so instructive for you and me is that Solomon asked God for his mind and heart to be coordinated, to work together under the guiding hand of God.
Here’s the question I asked myself as I began to delve into the request Solomon had of God: “How many times in my own life, when I made flawed decisions, did the reason come down to the fact that my mind and heart, my thoughts and my emotions, were completely out of whack?” And for me, the answer was simply, “Way too often!”
Interestingly enough, we will find as we look closer at the very wise decisions Solomon made, as well as the very faulty judgments he also made that at the root of his “good” decisions was the recognition that mind and heart were in unification under God’s control. And when failed decisions were made, the mind and heart were under the domination of human lust and inclination.
It was Teilhard de Chardin who many years ago so eloquently described this unity in our own lives which we long for when he penned the following prayer:
when it was given to me to see where the blazing trail of particular beauties and partial harmonies was leading, I recognized that it was all coming to center on a single point, a single person:
Thus all lines converge, complete one another, interlock. All things are now but One.”
This was exactly the prayer of Solomon: “Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart” (1 Kings 3: 9, The Message Bible). May this be our prayer, too. May our daily longing be to have our minds and hearts focused and converging on the “One” who brings completeness and wholeness into your life and mine.
“Lord, I believe my life is touched by You,
that You want something for me, and of me.
Give me ears to hear You,
Eyes to see the tracing of Your finger,
and a heart quickened
by the motions of your Spirit.”
Guerrillas of Grace
“Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards: give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out: give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know You, diligence to seek You, wisdom to find You and a faithfulness that may finally embrace You; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
St. Thomas Aquinas
(1225 – 1274)
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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