You and I Are in Danger

You and I are in danger. We are at risk of losing heart.

I know this the same way I know of God’s love for me – “for the Bible tells me so.”

God warns us in Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” If we must “keep” our hearts, we are, therefore, at risk of losing them.

I have also lived this danger. I nearly lost heart. Even though I know the warning. Even though I love the Lord with all my heart. Even though I’ve followed Him since I was a child. Even though I pray, study my Bible, worship, fellowship, give, serve. Even still . . .

It began months ago with a loss. Then an unexpected family trauma. The loss I saw coming. The trauma came out of left field. And I was shaken.

I wept. Grieved. Lamented.

But I also kept on. Kept on working, writing, worshiping – doing all the things. And I was holding on. But I wasn’t the same. There was something missing.

Little did I know, it was my heart.

Then 2020 took its left turn. I don’t have to tell you. I was like a boxer struggling up off the mat just before the count of ten only to be sucker-punched by the referee.

So, this new person I’d become through the loss and the grief and the trauma and the trying and the working and the worshiping and the writing and all the keeping on, tried to also manage a pandemic –

and riots

and political upheaval

and extreme job stress

and . . . well, you get it.

I floundered. Like a person drowning, I flailed about – the way a Christian flails – praying, praising, fasting, seeking counsel, doubling down on devotions, calling friends, eating, setting my eyes on eternity, and holding on. But it seemed all I accomplished was to wear myself out.

So, I got judgy. Like, what’s wrong with me? Where’s my faith? Where’s my hope? Wait – where’s my heart?

I beat myself up like a misguided medieval monk, to no avail. And my striving combined with my failure to successfully perform self-CPR tempted me to hopelessness and despair.

Finally, I reached the end of myself. Not always a bad thing.

God sent me a gift. A silent retreat in the mountains. Technology free. No talk. No distractions.

It was daunting. What does a woman of words do without them for 48 hours? How does a woman longing for connection do unplugged? No laptop. No Kindle. No cell phone. Just me, the mountains, my Bible, a pen, and a legal pad.

Fall arrived in all its glory the moment I turned up the retreat center drive. A feast for the eyes. Like the trees were on fire against the ever-steady mountains, mist-rising off them at sunrise each day.

The silence began. It wasn’t terrible. And for the first half of the retreat – there was a lot of nothing in my mind. No deep insights. No heavy conversations with God. No lightning bolts.

Just me walking without words among the trees staring at the water and the sky – praising God in my soul for His eye for beauty and His lavish creativity.

I napped. I read my Bible. I leaned into God. And waited.

If I’m honest, I was waiting for a scolding. For some deep, wracking conviction of a sin so great that perhaps I alone was responsible for the pandemic and if I just repented, my world would be set right. How’s that for ego and twisted theology? That’s what trauma, my personality, and living in a fallen world can do.

Instead, I received His love, His grace, and the warmth of remembering I belong to Him. I released a lot of pain. Just let it fall to the forest floor where I assume it’s now decomposing with the leaves. And I let myself be present – reading His Word and listening for His voice.

I was reading in Isaiah 59 when I stumbled across the breastplate of righteousness. Hadn’t expected to find it there – more familiar with its mention in Ephesians 6.

But, there it was in a passage about how there was no justice and there was no one righteous. Isn’t that the times in which we live now – full of headlines that batter our hearts and erode our faith like so many ocean waves against the rocks? And in a world gone wrong, we sense our own sin and limitations, so our hearts grow faint.

But, God. God saw we couldn’t save ourselves and so He sent His son – equipped with the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation. And what does this breastplate protect if not the heart?

So He kindly led me to the piece that I was missing – it was armor I’d left sitting at my feet. So focused on my own sin, I’d neglected to appreciate His remedy – Jesus on the cross, paying the price for me, and providing me, through grace, a perfect righteousness.

To trust in His righteousness and to wear it like a breastplate of armor is the prescription for guarding and keeping my heart. And yours.

Has the cross become an image in the rearview mirror of your life instead of place you visit daily to remember His provision for our redemption? Has the empty tomb become a place you only consider at Easter instead of a daily station where you remember His power over Satan and death? Have you been weighing your own righteousness or the righteousness of His people and beginning to lose heart?

Pick up that breastplate at your feet. Stop talking. Turn off all the noise. Remember Jesus. Let Him revive your heart.

(If you’re interested in a silent retreat, there are two more opportunities this fall at Singing Hills in NH. They’re called “God Speaks Retreat.“)

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8 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. carla says:

    Amen! It’s just what I need. Seems like between my phone and TV, I’m always turned on. I would love to attend a retreat like that. Not possible, but will construct my own! Thank you.

  2. Jan Clough says:

    Thank you Lori for your honesty. Lori you have the courage to speak what many of us feel and struggle with many times when life seems to fall all around us. Just recently l lay in bed reflecting on our troubled world feeling somewhat overwhelmed and fearful for our children and their children, but then l remembered that l have a Heavenly Father who knows and sees all things and takes the controls, He is indeed in control. Phew what a weight lifted from me and the comforting realisation that l can do my part but ultimately we have a mighty Saviour who reminds us to be still and know that He is God Amen!

  3. Becky says:

    Need a remedy for an already lost heart. Thanks for this word.

  4. Deborah Kreyssig says:

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
    Matthew 11:28 NIV
    Lori, so glad you had peaceful time away. Those Be Still moments are so important to our spiritual health.

    I sometimes visualize taking my heart and placing it in Jesus’ hands. He is the keeper of my heart. I know I can give it to Him and He will watch over it, mend it, protect it and ultimately fill it with His love. The enemy wants to destroy our hearts but, if Jesus has them in His hands, they will be safe. Praying for all of us against the discouragement and lies of the enemy and praying instead our hearts would be full of the hope and truth only Christ can provide.

  5. Cheri says:

    Great post, Lori! It resonates totally with my heart and life! Thank you!!

  6. Diane McElwain says:

    Lori, I so appreciate your honest words. This is what the life of Christ is all about. I can easily be overwhelmed with noise in the world and forget to protect my heart. We all need to know this. Thank you!

  7. Cheryl says:

    Lori, thank you so much for this post which came at the just the right time! Our Father is very good in His timing.