Bread – Heart Occupants

February 5, 2010


Readings for Friday, February 5 as
    designated by the Book of Common Prayer:
    Gen. 17:15-27; Heb. 10:11-25; John 6:1-15
    Psalms 40, 51, 54
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"I desire to do Your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."  Ps. 40:8

There are sort of two ideas about occupying a place.  One idea is that we have taken over the place, but our takeover is external.  An example might be Germany’s occupation of France in World War II.  There was occupancy of the countryside, but what went on in the homes was something else.

Then there is an occupancy within, where the occupying person actually occupies a space (and maybe the entire space) within the home, within the heart of our existence.  Usually this is someone whom we have invited in and for whom we have provided a place (although once in a while it is externally forced, as by a burglar.  When it is voluntary, when it is by invitation, the occupation takes on a permanency; when it is by force, the occupation is always temporary.  When the occupation of the home is by invitation, we willingly adjust our lives to accommodate the new occupant; when the occupation is by force, we may change our behavior by force but we never change our hostile attitude toward the intruder.

"Your law is within my heart."  For the Psalmist David, the law occupied his heart.  If we analogize his heart to his home, God’s law occupied David’s home co-existent with David.  Because this was an invited occupancy, David adjusted his behavior and his attitude to accommodate the occupant.  As a result, he desired "to do Your [God’s] will."

This quote raises something of a chicken and the egg problem.  Did David desire to do God’s will because His law occupied David’s heart, or did God’s law occupy David’s heart because David desired to do God’s will?  I would suggest that we don’t know, because both always occur together.  If we desire to do God’s will, how will we know what that will is without knowing God’s desires stated in His law, including His law of love?  If we want God’s law as an invited occupant in our home, in our heart, how can that happen without a desire to love God, to honor Him, to glorify Him, to obey Him, and to trust in the life, work, promise, and hope of Jesus Christ?  When God gives us the desire, He gives us the means.  When God has blessed us with the means, if we have invited God’s law (His means) to occupy our home, we automatically adjust our lives to seek His will in all things.

Because both seem to appear together, when we are seeking God’s will we can seek our heart to determine whose law, God’s or the world’s, occupies it.  When we have come to understand the law which we have allowed to occupy our heart, we are seeking God’s will.

Now, some people might be inclined to balk at all this "law" stuff as "Old Testament."  If you are so inclined, meditate on this other passage from our reading today, this one from Hebrews, quoting a Messianic passage from the prophet Jeremiah:

"This is the covenant I will make with them after that time [the time of Messiah], says the Lord.  I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds…Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."  Heb. 10:16-17, quoting Jer. 31:33-34

After Jesus has come and the new covenant is made, God "will put my laws in their [the persons who have invited Jesus Christ into their life, their home, and their hearts] hearts."   The invitation to Jesus Christ to take up occupancy in our heart is an invitation for God’s law to occupy our hearts as well.

Who and what occupies your heart?  Whose will do you desire to follow?

Can you say with David – "I desire to do Your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."? 

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