How many times has God finalized His message to me while I’m running down a dirt road? Too many to count. It happened once again last Friday as I “ran” on the Old Stage Road near Bear Trap Ranch, in the mountains above Colorado Springs, Colorado. It had been raining and snowing all morning. After lunch it finally dried out enough that I decided to go for a run. After all, I didn’t bring my gear up here for nothin’. Unfortunately the camp is about 9,300’ elevation and every road is either steep up or steep down, so what I really did was walk at slightly-above normal pace while wearing my running gear. There were no disappointments, though, because what I really needed was not exercise but information processing, and that happens best for me when my feet are moving.
Earlier that same day I listened to a great talk from my friend, John Hard, which he titled, “Experiencing the love of the Father.” And by listening, I mean I really only heard part of it since John began his session playing a song by Geoff Moore, Listen to Our Hearts. It took me back several years to a time when my heart was soft and full of Jesus. After that it was difficult to concentrate on anything else with that song rolling around inside.
John ended his time sending us out to be alone with God to answer two questions: (1) What is the Father saying to you right now, and (2) what facades are you using to hide your true selves?
By the time I walked downstairs to my bunk room the words I was singing inside my head morphed from “Lord, listen to our hearts,” to “Berry, listen to your heart.” And so I started writing in my journal the thoughts that rushed at me concerning my own heart and what I was hearing. I wrote:
I get so caught up in teaching and sharing and writing and mentoring (my calling, the very things I should be caught up in) that I’m afraid I’ve lost something that needs to be restored.
What have I lost? Maybe loving God from my heart, not just my intellect.
And for me, opening my heart means more music. Music is the secret code that goes straight to my heart. I need to find ways to let music speak to me, to open my heart again.
Have I lost something by becoming so narrow in my relationship with God?
Sometimes on the journey we’re so focused on what’s important we fail to notice what’s even more important.
Has my spiritual connection become more about data-gathering and insight-harvesting, rather than heart-loving and soul-feeding?
And what is the facade I hide behind? I’m good at telling the story and teaching and writing. I’m good enough to cover and hide the inadequacies of my heart … at least, for a while.
That afternoon I took a first step toward feeding my heart during my run by listening to music (instead of my normal practice of learning more by listening to podcasts). Specifically, I listened to an old standby, the Exodus album released in 1998 by Michael W. Smith. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the songs by Sixpence None The Richer, titled Brighten My Heart, has the lyric: “Help me open my heart to You.”
And so, it wasn’t that my application from the weekend was to go home and simply listen to more music. Music is merely a tool. It isn’t enough.
What I need is to restore that heart-level connection that was once so important but has become lost in the clutter of all the good and important things.
Help me open my heart to You. Help me restore what has been lost.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32