Guard your heart

Guard your heart

Guard your heart

As I type, I'm looking ahead to the wall in front of me,
above my desk. There is a picture of Dennie and me and our children have written
captions of their own, tributes to us as parents -– despite the fact that they
know that we are not perfect. It is bittersweet to read these little records of
love when I have just been crying and praying on behalf of another 'child'
on board this ship. I could not hold back the flood of tears that poured out as
I heard what had been done to this young person by a parent -– a parent that
professed to love God. It's incredible how many of these stories I have heard
on board here from people who are in so much bondage due to the damage left
behind in their lives.

At present I am doing a study called 'Breaking Free'. In
the first week we looked at the lives of 5 kings in II Chronicles. The
interesting point about these five kings was that no matter how committed to God
they were, the areas in their lives that were not pleasing to God came back and
affected the next generation.

King Uzziah -– as long as he sought God faithfully, he was
blessed richly. Then he got slack about seeking God and pride came in. He
defiled the temple by offering incense, a job only the priests were allowed to
do, and God struck him with leprosy.

His son, King Jotham, saw what pride had done in his father's
life and learned from it. The Scriptures record that "He walked steadfastly
before the Lord"
. The only thing was that he did not destroy the 'high
places' which was where the people sacrificed to other gods. He was more
afraid of the people than of God.

Because of King Jotham not standing against idolatry, his
son, King Ahaz, ended up burning his own sons on those altars in his quest to do
what appeared to be anything opposite to what the Lord God had commanded. Even
when God extended a chance for him to return to the Lord, that same enemy of his
grandfather, pride, rose in him and he rejected the Lord's offer out of hand,
claiming to be following the Scriptures. It would appear to be the one and only
time he did follow the Scriptures....

His son, King Hezekiah, learned from the fact that his
grandfather did not destroy the high places, thus letting idolatry thrive in the
land, and must have seen his brothers sacrificed to pagan gods. He worked
tirelessly to get the nation of Israel to come back to having the Lord as their
God and destroyed the high places, cleansed the temple and had the priests
purify themselves. He wholeheartedly worked towards reformation and restoration.
When the Assyrians came against him, he did the right thing. He fell on his
knees and asked God for help. So although he had dealt with idolatry, when did
the pride sneak in? Later on!

(The author of Breaking Free mentioned the fact that God used
a fig poultice to bring healing to Hezekiah's fatal illness. She also said
that someone should have stuffed that fig poultice into his mouth before he was
able to say "I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my
soul.") It was shortly after saying this that, in his pride, he showed the
Babylonian envoys the treasures of the temple and the kingdom and intimated that
they were 'his'. He did not give the glory to God. Sadly, when he was
rebuked by the prophet, his only reaction was relief that God's vengeance
would take place after he was dead and gone -– in other words in one of his
descendant's time.

Once again, the insidiousness of the idolatry and pride made
its way down the family line and Hezekiah's son, Manasseh, did everything
possible that was evil before God yet God's grace once again reached out, and
eventually Manasseh was totally changed through God's love.

The point that comes through clearly is that the weaknesses
and sins that we, as parents, grand-parents and great-grandparents, allow in our
lives, will always come back in another generation. In the same way, I believe
that the blessing can also come back in generations further down the line. I
would love to know how much of who I am today is attributable to the actions of
an ancestor, perhaps one that I don't even know of.

This 'child' that my heart is aching for now, how much of
the horrendous past is due to sin that was not dealt with further back?

The hardest question to deal with is, "What sin or weakness
am I refusing to deal with in my own life that will affect my children or their
children?"

At the moment, it is with much thankfulness that Dennie and I
are watching our second daughter, Saskia, throwing herself into life with
abundant enthusiasm. She has found her niche. She is experiencing her own
relationship with God and is enjoying the discovery of the fact that God is
interested in her and answers her prayers. Listening to your 12 year old talking
about how difficult it is to resist certain things that are not good for us, is
one thing, but when she tells you how she found strength in God to do so, the
heart rejoices and many prayers of gratefulness go up before His throne.

While Dennie and I cannot claim that it is our perfect
example as parents that got her to this point, unfortunately, it's our
imperfect example in not dealing with important issues that can easily drive her
away again.

When God asks us to serve Him 'wholeheartedly', it is not
because His ego needs our worship but for our own protection. A heart that is
totally dedicated to God does not have any excess room for other things to sneak
into.

When the Bible says to 'guard your heart', it is with
great reason. That heart will determine where you end up and also help decide
where your children will end up.

One important point to note -– many of the 'good' kings
did well for the majority of their life. Sadly, it was often towards the ends of
their lives that they went 'off'. Living well for God for many years is not
a guarantee that you will always be safe but guarding your heart well is. "Above
all else, guard your heart, for it is the well-spring of life."
Proverbs 4:23.

(I would very much appreciate your prayers on behalf of the
'child'. Thank you.)