To know what is in your heart
“And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the desert, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
What IS in my heart? During our 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, our hearts were exposed–by the hardships, the sense of deprivation, and the unknown next steps. We had to trust in the God who led us out of Egypt. How telling that our Father, who liberated us from the chains of our slavery, led us into a dry place to see what was in our heart!
Does some of this sound familiar? Are we not passing through what feels like an unprecedented desert season, without the ability to know what is ahead? Are we experiencing the exposure of our hearts—insecurity, fear, confusion, impatience, complaining? Does the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness hold valuable guidance for us, to equip us—to empower us?
Indeed, press fast forward 3400 years, and God is still teaching us about trusting Him. During the Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot, we “dwelled” for seven days in temporary shelters (sukkot) next to our homes. In this way we remember our dependence on Him. How compelling that we must now learn the same lesson, due to a worldwide pandemic that is affecting our entire daily lives.
A Plague of the Heart?
A strange reference during Solomon’s dedication of the Temple further touches on this question: “What is in my heart?”
“When there is famine in the land, pestilence or … whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; … [when] supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple: then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men).” (1 Kings 8:38-39)
So there are outward plagues (like the Coronavirus) and there are inner plagues (like arrogance, un-forgiveness, jealousy and covetousness). In our concern about the outward plague currently troubling the globe, are we giving sufficient attention to the inner plague—in our hearts?
May we come before the Holy One, as Solomon did, presenting ourselves, calling upon Him in our most earnest prayer—for His cleansing. It is time to rededicate our own body as the Lord’s temple—cleansed of any plague, joyfully trusting in His provision as we travel through the world’s current “desert.”