Part 9: The United Heart

Letters on Spiritual Formation #9

The United Heart

This is article is part of a series of letters on spiritual growth and maturity. To read the previous letter in the series, click here.

Teach me your way, O LORD; I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name.
— Psalm 86:11

characteristics of a united heart

As your spirit brightens and entwines itself with the light of God, and your soul begins to reflect that light, and your body gives action to this new expression, you begin to walk in what I like to call the united heart.  It is the heart that holds truth at the deepest place of the individual.

The united heart has three distinct characteristics:  

  1. It is consumed with knowing God

  2. Knowing His ways will lead you in His truth

  3. Fearing his name

1. It is consumed with knowing God

“Teach me your way, O Lord,” is another way of saying, “I desire to know you.” Knowing the ways of a thing is tantamount to knowing that thing. If you know the way in which an individual (be it God, or anyone) will act, you have an idea of who that being is. But this is more than simply knowing the taste of His presence. Tasting his presence and not knowing his ways is like becoming fascinated by the perfume my wife wears, but missing out on the fullness of experiencing my wife. Yes, his presence is a part of knowing him, but it is not the whole.

You are about to make a coffee for a guest in your house.

You have brewed the pot and you can smell the aroma of fresh coffee filling the kitchen.

You remove a coffee mug from your cupboard and go to serve your guest some of this fantastic coffee you have just brewed.

As soon as you start to pour you realize you have no idea how your guest takes his coffee, or if he even likes coffee for that matter.

Does he like cream in his coffee? Milk? Sugar? Honey? 

Maybe he likes his coffee black.

You may have a general understanding that he likes coffee, but without knowing your guest you are unsure how they would like their coffee prepared. However, if you know your guest well enough you may know that he would just like a little bit of cream in his coffee. Your knowledge of the way he appreciates his coffee enables you to better serve him. But it takes becoming familiar with this guest. In this same way we can know about God without knowing God.

2. Knowing His ways will lead you in His truth

When you begin to apprehend his ways you become familiar with how he comes to you. “I will walk in your truth,” becomes an experience with his truth. It is only in the process of being taught his ways that we begin to engage his truth. What is His truth towards you, the truth He desires in the “inward part?” It is the thoughts as immeasurable as the sands on the seashore that David spoke of in Psalm 139. Each of these thoughts is a truth about you. Knowing his ways leads you to this truth: walking in who he designed you to be.

3. Fearing his name

The united heart knows that apart from the ways and truth of God it has no stable ground. Fear can keep this individual close to God. How can that be you may ask? The answer is simple. You realize that any moment you spend outside of your original design is a deteriorating moment. It is a moment of becoming less than the ideal of yourself. If God is in the business of forming you, any moment you walk away from that process becomes an un-forming. Fear has a funny way of keeping us engaged on the journey of formation. As a result you desire to always stay in the ways and truth of God.

Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part you will make me to know wisdom.
— Psalm 51:6

Ultimately, this uniting is the expression of yourself. It is your spirit, soul, and body integrating into the design God originally intended for you. Your spirit, empowered by the light of God, pulls your heart back into alignment with the core of who you were originally created to be. It is the form and shape your spiritual DNA works within.

Light is by nature a defining substance. It illuminates an object. God who is light illuminates you. If you build a house while cast in shadow, that house will never look like you envisioned it, unless you are really, really lucky. It takes perfect light to see the process from beginning to end.

Redemptive work, or work that restores identity, begins in the spirit. It is God's Spirit flowing into your spirit that brings restoration. Your entire being begins to look like the image he originally created you to be as he spoke you into existence. This is the state of perfect peace that Isaiah references:

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you." Isaiah 26:3

The word for mind in this verse is more than simply a thought. It means the framework through which you see the world. When your framework, or your total expression, is integrated with the truth of who God created you to be, peace reigns.

Continue Reading Part 10…