Seeing Through the Smokescreens in our Hearts

Seeing Through The Smokescreens In Our Heart
 
1 Sam. 8:7- The LORD said to Samuel, “Do everything the people request of you. For it is not
 
you that they have rejected, but it is me that they have rejected as their king.”
 
A smoke screen is a cloud of smoke created to conceal military operations. They have proven to
 
be a reliable means of protection to mask the movement or location of military units such as
 
infantry, tanks, aircraft or ships. In the spiritual life, God’s people have also used smoke screens
 
in less honorable ways.
 
In 1 Samuel chapter 8, we read about how Israel complained about Samuel's sons who ruled as
 
judges over them. The complaint was legitimate since Samuel's sons were not living according
 
to the Covenant. They were ripping people off by unjustly accepting bribes instead of protecting
 
the freedom and welfare of God's people. This was a terrible situation for God’s people to be in.
 
The problem was not their complaint but the true pursuit of their heart. The elders of Israel used
 
the current problem as a smokescreen to hide the true intention of their heart. What they really
 
wanted was to be like the other nations. They weren't so concerned about justice and honoring
 
Yahweh and his Covenant. Israel reject God as her King. So God gave them what they thought
 
they wanted and in the long term it did not work out so well. They pursued idols instead of
 
God— the one true God who would not let them down.
 
As I think about that story, I cannot help but ask about how we function during times of need.
 
How about you and me? What is in our hearts? When we face obstacles do we hide the true
 
intentions of our heart? In other words, are we trying to manipulate God by presenting our
 
current problem to him so that we can get something else that we really want?
 
Discerning the intention of the heart is one of the most difficult tasks in the spiritual life. Often we
 
like to try and discern the hearts of others, but what about our own? Many times we might just
 
assume that our intentions are pure. But we might be surprised when we reflect more deeply
 
into the motives of our heart.
 
This is something that I have struggled with on occasion. As I reflect back on my past before I
 
entered vocational ministry, there were many times when I wanted to quit my job and thrust
 
myself into full time vocational ministry. I could tell God, “Nursing stresses me out. I don’t like
 
seeing people sick all the time. I makes me afraid.” I could also tell God, “I should be in ministry.
 
That’s where my gifts are. There are churches that need pastors. I can fill that need.” However,
 
at the time when I struggled with those feelings, it would have been premature to manipulate my
 
circumstance in order to get what I really wanted. I could have justified it over and over in my
 
mind instead of waiting on the Lord to provide the right season and place.
 
Or, there was another time when I was searching for a vehicle. I needed a vehicle for work.
 
There were plenty of opportunities to buy something that wasn't practical for me or my family.
 
While the need for a vehicle was real, it would have been easy to overspend for something that
 
we couldn’t truly afford.
 
In moments like these, when we tell God that, "I need this….[fill in the blank],” it is difficult to
 
discern the true intention of the heart.
 
If we want to live authentic spiritual lives before Christ, then we need to be honest before God
 
about our intentions. God knows if we are seeking to do what is right or if our hearts are turned
 
away from him. Often times, the most spiritual thing is to endure suffering in the midst of
 
adversity and to wait for God to provide. When we try to take actions into our own hands, we
 
can make our suffering worse in the long run.
 
However, if we wait on the Lord, he will provide for us. In my desire to enter full time ministry, I
 
waited on the Lord for the right time and place. I chose to do this, and he was faithful and
 
brought our family to Holyoke. He provided in the right time. With my vehicle that I reflected
 
back on, I remember how I prayed, and after looking at hundreds and hundreds of vehicles
 
online, and test driving several, I finally found a great vehicle at a super low price that was in
 
excellent condition. And I didn't have to take out a loan. It was paid in cash, and I had money
 
left over. God provided!
 
Where are you struggling to trust God's provision? Will you wait patiently instead of trying to
 
manipulate your circumstances? God knows the "smokescreens" of our heart. Let’s be patient
 
and wait on God during our times of need.
 
Blessings to you,
 
Pastor Jeremiah