Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart
In our weekly Franciscan Fire meeting, we are studying the life of Saint Francis and his followers, using the book “The Life of Saint Francis,” by St. Bonaventure. These stories have taken us deeply into the heart of Franciscan spirituality. They challenge our hearts, and our minds as we struggle to understand how we should apply the way of Saint Francis in our lives in the 21st century.
We have begun to walk into a life of penitence that goes beyond the exterior actions. We've traveled into the depths of the thoughts and motives of the heart that cause us to choose to act out in sinful ways.
One story spoke of how one of the friars, when confronted, had made an idle excuse for a particular sin that he was living in – this was not something big by the world's standards, more like the little bit of yeast that spoils the leaven.
We hear much about the pursuit of holiness lately in our Sunday sermons and in prophetic words given to the congregation. We've heard how important it is to examine our consciences on a daily basis, to look deeply into out hearts – not only to see the sins we've committed, but also the motive behind our sins.
It's easy, even as this friar did, to rationalize our way right out of repentance. We can make excuses for our behavior and justify our thoughts and deeds, but deep down inside we know how we really are.
Father Harold has said many times, “Praying is standing before God with nothing in between.” The things that stand between us and God can be obvious, but the attitude of our heart is the biggest hindrance to prayer, for out of the heart flows that which is really in us.
I can remember a particular prophetic word that was given some time ago. In that word, God was calling us to come to His altar, to lay down our idols, to take seriously what we receive when we come before Him at the altar.
Are we really serious about God?
Do we really want to walk in holiness?
Do we really want to search our hearts and repent of what is there?
This should be a way of life for each of us, whether we are Franciscan or not. This should be the cry of our hearts. Each step we take in this direction draws us closer to the One for whom we were created. Our life's journey is that of a return to the heart of God. My prayer is that each of us would purpose to rend our hearts and not just our garments so that we could “stand before God with nothing in between.”
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24