A Matchstick a Horse and Man: Chapter Four

God’s Invitation

From time to time I have letters of quiet and patient bewilderment from members, especially new members of my large Student Family. They say, in effect: “I have always tried to live a good life; I was brought up in a Christian home; I went to Sunday school and church; I try to serve God and to help my fellow men and women whenever I can yet I have had all kinds of misfortunes. It does shake my faith so much, yet I am trying to hold on and to believe that, in some way, it is all for the best. Perhaps God is testing me to see how much faith I have, or perhaps He has some other reason for sending me all these trials. I can only try to believe that He knows best . . .” When I receive letters like this, I want to say: “But God knows what measure of faith you have, so He does not need to test you.” (Sometimes I do say this, if I think the writer will be capable of understanding.)

It is certainly a fact that, with some people, however earnest they are, things seem to be stopped for them in some curious way. Their ambitions remain unrealised, their desires seem always a little way off from them, and never reached, their brief spells of happiness seem to fizzle outin fact, nothing seems to go just right with them. I believe that, in many cases, it is because they have not wholly answered the invitation in the Scripture:

“My son, give Me thine heart.” (Prov. 23, 26.) “But I have,” I hear many such people saying. “I have loved God all my life.” To which I reply: “But to ‘give your heart’ does not entail love only.”

Let us look at the other meaning of the word “heart” as used in sacred literature. We will soon come to see that it means the inner mind with all its hidden workings and halfforgotten memories. For example: “The fear of thine heart, wherewith thou shalt fear.” (Deut. 28, 67.) “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart.” (Lev. 19, 17.) If thy heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear . . .” (Deut. 30, 17.) “Whosoever shalt not doubt in his heart. . .” (Mark 11, 23.) You see, don’t you, that this meaning of the word ” heart” is certainly not “love”? It refers to the inner mind very clearly, doesn’t it ?

Now take another look at that invitation and you will see its meaning more plainly: “My son, give Me thine heart.” God is inviting us to give Him our inner minds, to turn over all the deep motives, the halfforgotten fears, the rigid clinging to thoughts of selflove, so often covered by a façade of outward charity, the fear of death, the doubts about eternity, the unwillingness to ask for God’s will in our lives lest it should not be so pleasant as our own willyou know, all those kind of things. He wants us to really love Him, in the sense that we will joyfully and willingly abandon all our reluctance. So often we think, in the early stages of our growth, that we do know much better what will make us happy than God does. Yet every time we override Him and take our own idea of happiness, it recedes from us and we find we have lost still more.

So you see, it’s because God wants to give still more than that. He asks us to give Him all our inner minds, fears and all. People who have always tried to live a good life have often done so with fear mixed into their loveand the fear wars with the love, causing much conflict. The way of peace and joy is truly to delight in Him . . . “and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Ps. 37, 4.) Of course Because the heart, or inner mind, is resting happily in Him, with no selflove, reluctance, rigidity or fear left. His Love has dissolved it all away and His Great Power comes sweeping through, bringing miracle after miracle of heart’s desire into our lives. If you have a block anywhere which is preventing you from realising your heart’s desire, do not doubt God’s Love for an instant.

Instead, seek humbly for the block and cast it out. Then the blessings will flow ! “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose (inner) mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.” (Isa. 26, 3.)

– Bernard