“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Sometimes we don’t have to pray this searching prayer from the psalmist in order for us to know the offensive ways of our hearts. Sometimes we just know. Sometimes it’s just that obvious.
Let me explain.
Things are breaking around my house. The washing machine. The telephone. The remote control. The doorbell. My husband’s watch. My shoes. Unanticipated collapses in and around our home, small annoyances yet big enough to foster our frustration. Not big enough to move us past the point of reasonable responses but just enough to remind us that at any given point on any given day, breakage of temporal things can and does occur. Those breakages can be managed.
But what about the other ones? The breakages not related to temporal things but rather ones related to eternal hearts? Fractures that are not easily fixed, managed, or controlled? Breakages that occur because of the carnality that simmers just beneath the surface of our skin? What do we do with those collapses when they burst forth as “unreasonable and out-of-control”?
Last night I went to bed with some breakage. So did the other members of my household. Someone spoke breakage into someone else, which in turn began a chain of brokenness throughout our household. It doesn’t much matter how the chain began. What matters is the fact that breaking words have a strong tendency to spread like a virus. Before long, everyone is infected, and hearts begin to ache for the greater good they once felt—the greater good for which God created them.
We should know better. Live better. Speak better. A better way of doing life is what God desires for each one of us. When we don’t act on that better—when we deliberately choose to live as a people unchanged by the cross of Calvary—then we continue to live as a sin-sick people in desperate need of a heart’s examination.
To know that we need one … a heart’s examination? Well, I suppose that is a good starting point. So many Christians are walking around with blinders on, unaware of their simmering sin. Worst still are those who are aware of their sin yet are unwilling to do anything about it. Those who choose to linger with yesterday’s rotten, stinking garbage and who have somehow fooled themselves into thinking that stink doesn’t stink and that the flies gathering around are an indication of some remaining goodness.
Time to take out the garbage, friends. Time to pray the prayer, to acknowledge the sin, to put away childish things. Time to stop breaking one another with angry words, forced agendas, human manipulation. Time to work from the heart outward, rooting out those carnal tendencies that simmer just beneath the surface of the skin. Time to push them out completely so that our tomorrows aren’t filled with the stench of yesterday’s struggle.
This morning, I’ve taken time to collect the garbage of my heart and hauled it to the curb of Calvary. Laid it down before the Son of God and begged his pardon for my sin. It hasn’t been a difficult collection process for me. Some stink… some sin, is just that obvious, just that offensive.
Oh for a heart that is quick to notice the quickening truth of the Spirit of God within! Oh for a heart that is willing to listen to conviction, to act on that conviction, and to move forward with repentance and grace-filled renewal! What would it take to get us there, readers? What lingering sin is still simmering beneath the surface of your skin today? If you’re willing to open up your heart for examination, then I invite you to pray the prayer that the psalmist prayed so long ago, the prayer that I prayed just moments ago. It’s time to stop breaking ourselves and those that we love with the sins that so easily entangle us.
Search me, O God, and know my heart completely. Try me, test me, examine me under your microscope, and point out my insufficiencies. Make them obvious to me, Lord, and press my flesh to the point of releasing them once and for all to the cleansing work of the cross. This is the only prayer I know to pray today, the only prayer I want to pray today. You are my standard. You have called me to holiness. Only You can bring about a change in my heart. Humbly I submit it today for your sacred scrutiny. Lead me forward in the way everlasting—the path of eternal consequence. You are where I’m headed, Father. Save me from myself, and bring me safely home. Amen.