With the Heart
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord!”
The words are nearly the same as in our last meditation. But I gladly avail myself of them again to press home a much-needed lesson for all who desire to learn truly and fully what Waiting on God is. The lesson is this: It is with the heart we must wait upon God. “Let your heart take courage” All our waiting depends upon the state of the heart. As a man’s heart is, so is he before God. We can advance no further or deeper into the holy place of God’s presence to wait on Him there, than our heart is prepared for it by the Holy Spirit. The message is, “Let your heart take courage, all ye that wait on the Lord.”
The truth appears so simple, that some may ask, Do not all admit this? Where is the need of insisting on it so specially? Because very many Christians have no sense of the great difference between the religion of the mind and the religion of the heart, and the former is far more diligently cultivated than the latter. They know not how infinitely greater the heart is than the mind. It is in this that one of the chief causes must be sought of the feebleness of our Christian life, and it is only as this is understood that Waiting on God will bring its full blessing.
A text in Proverbs (3:5) may help to make my meaning plain. Speaking of a life in the fear and favor of God, it says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding.” In all religion we have to use these two powers. The mind as to gather knowledge from God’s word, and prepare the food by which the heart with the inner life is to be nourished. But here comes in a terrible danger, of our leaning to our own understanding, and trusting in our apprehension of divine things. People imagine that if they are occupied with the truth, the spiritual life will as a matter of course be strengthened. And this is by no means the case. The understanding deals with conceptions and images of divine things, but it cannot reach the real life of the soul. Hence the command, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding.” It is with the heart man believeth, and comes into touch with God. It is in the heart God has given His Spirit, to be there to us the presence and the power of God working in us. In all our religion it is the heart that must trust and love and worship and obey. My mind is utterly impotent in creating or maintaining the spiritual life within me: the heart must wait on God for Him to work it in me.
It is in this even as in the physical life. My reason may tell me what to eat and drink, and how the food nourishes me. But in the eating and feeding my reason I can do nothing: the body has its organs for that special purpose. Just so, reason may tell me what God’s word says, but it can do nothing to the feeding of the soul on the bread of life—this the heart alone can do by its faith and trust in God. A man may be studying the nature and effects of food or sleep; when he wants to eat or sleep he sets aside his thoughts and study, and uses the power of eating or sleeping. And so the Christian needs ever, when he has studied or heard God’s word, to cease from his thoughts, to put no trust in them, and to waken up his heart to open itself before God, and seek the living fellowship with Him.
This is now the blessedness of waiting upon God, that I confess the impotence of all my thoughts and efforts, and set myself still to bow my heart before Him in holy silence, and to trust Him to renew and strengthen His own work in me. And this is just the lesson of our text, “Let your heart take courage, all ye that wait on the Lord.” Remember the difference between knowing with the mind and believing with the heart. Beware of the temptation of leaning upon your understanding, with its clear strong thoughts. They only help you to know what the heart must get from God: in themselves they are only images and shadows.
“Let your heart take courage, all ye that wait on the Lord.” Present it before Him as that wonderful part of your spiritual nature in which God reveals Himself, and by which you can know Him. Cultivate the greatest confidence that, though you cannot see into your heart, God is working there by His Holy Spirit. Let the heart wait at times in perfect silence and quiet; in its hidden depths God will work. Be sure of this, and just wait on Him.
No knowledge of the air or the food around me can nourish me, except it enter into my inward life. And no knowledge of the truths of God can profit me, except as He, by His Spirit, enters into my inmost being and dwells within me. It is with the heart I must wait upon God; it is into the heart I must receive God; it is in the heart will give His Spirit and every spiritual blessing in Christ. Give your whole heart, with its secret workings, into God’s hands continually. He wants the heart, and takes it, and as God dwells in it. “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all ye that wait on the Lord.”
“My soul, wait thou only upon God!”