There are times when God’s word in the Bible jumps off the page and grabs your attention. I had one right back at the start of the year when I was stuck with the family on an ‘extended holiday’ interstate, isolating with COVID. And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all year.
As I read through Psalm 62, the following words in verse 8 really stood out to me: “…pour out your hearts to [God] for [He] is our refuge”.
There’s something really appealing about that invitation.
Our hearts contain the hope of our joys and desires as well as the weight of our fears and sorrows. That is a lot for them to hold. And we not only want to pour out those emotions and longings, we need to. That’s the way God has made us.
Some of us are really good at pouring out our hearts. In fact, we may be a little too good at it, opening up about feelings and yearnings at times and in places where it’s not appropriate. Others of us closely guard the contents of our heart. We may have been hurt before when our innermost thoughts were shared with someone who didn’t treat them with sufficient care.
And this invitation comes with a clear reminder of who God is. He is our refuge. He’s safe. We can confidently open up to Him. We don’t need to hold back from Him. Whether we are quick or reluctant to pour out our hearts to others, God is the best place to confide. He made us. He loves us. He desires to be close to us. And He wants what is best for us. Where could you find someone better to open up to?
When I think about someone who is safe, I’m tempted to imagine a person who’ll not just be on my side, but will support my point of view – no matter what. But the more I’ve reflected on it, the more I’ve been reminded that God is not like that. Not at all. Yes, He is on my side. And yours. But He doesn’t bend His will to suit mine. Or yours. He doesn’t invite us to pour out our hearts to Him so that He can affirm whatever is in them.
When you have water in a bottle or a jug, you can control it. You can move it around with purpose by putting it on a table or a shelf. Or in the fridge. It is yours. But if you take that bottle or jug and pour it out on the ground, you surrender that control. Once the water mixes with the grime and the dust and the dirt and rolls or seeps away, it’s no longer yours.
It’s a bit like that with our hearts. They hold our dreams and desires, our fears and our sorrows. And while we are tempted to hold on to them and control them, God invites us to pour them out before Him. And because He’s safe, we don’t need to alter them or make them acceptable before we do that. He’s strong enough to cope with them just as they are.
But we don’t just pour them out to leave them the way they are. When we truly pour out our hearts to God, He will show us what He thinks of them. Where our joys and desires are based on His truth, He will affirm them. Where they are the stuff of illusion, He’ll show us that too and lead us back to His truth. When we pour out our fears and sorrows before God, He promises to protect and comfort us. We can’t lose.
As God invites us to pour out our hearts to Him, He invites us to lay down our feeble ways and take up His right and wonderful way that eclipses and exceeds anything we could ever hope for. To experience that, we have to lay our hearts out there and be willing to let go of them.