When was the last time your heart burned?
Now, I know Thanksgiving weekend just past—which meant we all went in on some mac & cheese, honey glazed ham, baked beans, mashed potatoes, and collard greens (Praise Break). Which also meant loading up on the Alka Seltzer and Pepto Bismol because all that good food would’ve assuredly given you a severe case of heartburn. Be that as it may, the heart burning I’m speaking of is not about food consumption instead it’s about the burning of the heart that comes as a result of reflection that leads to rejoicing and a mutual sharing of God’s grace. We see an example of this heart burning, rejoicing, and mutual encouragement with the two disciples traveling on the road to Emmaus.
Luke 24:32-33 “They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together.”
When was the last time your heart burned bright hot? We were created by God to live in a perpetual state of blazing heart affection for Him. We were designed by God to experience the flames of eternal love within and to walk in intimate fellowship with the God who knew us way before time began. From the very dawn of time, we witnessed Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis, enjoying intimate fellowship with God as they walk with Him in the cool of the day. We were made to live in this continuous state with God; however, sin entered the equation, and it separated us from the very source of our lives—God himself. As a result, our hearts grew cold, calloused, and distracted towards the very one who, with just one touch, can set ablaze our hearts with passion, purpose, and joy.
They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures.”
Reflection On God Leads To Rejoicing In God
These two disciples were on a 7-mile journey towards Jerusalem, and they were discussing among themselves the recent events that transpired regarding Jesus’s crucifixion. Now, unbeknownst to them Jesus appeared and began to walk with them and talk with them and although the scriptures are not explicitly clear why they did not recognize Jesus. Jesus responded to their failure to recognize him by leading them to reflect upon the scriptures. In other words, Jesus was saying; you’re seeking to understand me in light of your circumstances instead of seeing your circumstances in light of my word.
There are times we can get so bombarded by our circumstances, so distracted by the recent news that we fail to take time to filter our situations through God’s word. Our failure to do this results in our hearts turning cold, our hope diminished, and blindness towards the God who is the source of our strength and joy. I’m not saying reflecting or thinking about your circumstance will lead to immediate joy. However, reflecting on God’s word in light of whatever you’re facing will grant you the ability to see God in the midst of what you’re going through; true joy is being able to see God in every circumstance. Our God is a consuming fire and to behold him is to be like him. To put it another way, our thinking about God from His scriptures should lead to rejoicing in God; this has been some of my experiences this semester in my systematic theology class. Being part of a class where people from all different faith traditions—Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, AME, Methodist, and Charismatic—gather together to discuss the doctrines of the Person & Work of Christ, salvation, the Holy Spirit, and the Church made my heart glad. I often found myself in class meditating on the teachings of regeneration and salvation, and my reflections rolled up into worship as I beheld the beauty and majesty of God. I noticed myself leaving class one evening singing the old hymn, “When I think of the goodness of Jesus and all that He’s done for me, my soul cries out Hallelujah, I thank God for saving me!”
Our souls were made to live off of God’s word in such a way where we find our source of joy, meaning, passion, and purpose in God. C.S. Lewis put it this way in his book Mere Christianity,
“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn or the food our spirits were designed to feed on.”
These two disciples walked and reflected upon God’s word and as they did the sparks started flaring, and their hearts were rekindled with hope, excitement, and joy. However, their eyes were not opened until they sat at the table and communed with him. Then they recognized him through the breaking of the bread. After recognizing him through the breaking of the bread, their response was to share this good news with the other disciples. Their reflection and communion with Jesus lead to a desire to mutually share and spread the news of what they had learned. Our reflection on God leads to Rejoicing, and the by-product of rejoicing is always mutual sharing; this is a natural human inclination, if you’ve ever eaten something just downright awesome, your typical response would be to share it and get others to partake in it with you. One of the reasons why I loved this past Thanksgiving with my family was because it emulated and centered on mutual sharing, feasting, and reflecting on God—so much so that we were all experiencing heart burn afterward.
Reflection leads to Rejoicing and rejoicing always lead to mutual sharing.
Our joy dwindles when we fail to reflect on God or after reflecting on Him fail to share the joy that we experienced in Him. The knowledge we obtain in our reflection of God is to be shared with others. The purpose of knowing about God is not to be privy to profound theological dogma and insight. Instead, it is to make him known. I would dare to say that there is no greater joy than to dig deep through reflection and meditation about God and to thereafter make him known. The prophet Jeremiah says God’s word was in His heart and it was as if a fire was in his bones and he grew weary trying to hold it in. The Apostle John also writes in his second epistle that he had much to address to the believers, but he didn’t want to use paper or ink. Instead, he’d hope to visit and talk with them face to face so that their joy would be complete (2 John 1:12).
We are all on a journey like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus where we are called to reflect upon God and to behold Him in his word until our heart explodes with burning passion and joy. Our foundation is love, and I’m aware that along the journey love can become distorted and the heart can grow cold. However, we see all throughout the scriptures, and in the life of Jesus, the way to keep the fire burning is to share. It’s through sharing that we’ll reach the ultimate destination, which is not a seminary degree, or plaques on our walls or accolades but LOVE. Love that strengthens, love that encourages, love that counsels, love that does justice and loves mercy and walks humbly. I’ll be writing these blog post as a means to share what I’m learning throughout this journey as well as in other areas of my life. I can’t walk this journey alone I need your prayers, and I need your support to help me stay the course.
“God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.” – Jim Elliot