The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12 (ESV)
Over the last six months I have thought a lot about the heart of people and of myself, and its state of being. Something new has come to my mind and to my own heart that I would like to share with you! I was not really aware of the health of my heart! My heart is sick, desperately sick!
Humanity encounters challenges daily that may or may not engage our hearts, but sometimes the not engaging of our hearts is as much a response as an engaged heart. I have at times witnessed what seems like heartless people; who care not for their fellow human, much less for themselves, except in a blind selfishness and vanity. I have also witnessed others who give their heart away to anyone that would give them attention, even if motivations and intents are selfish and/or malicious. Others who have had their hearts broken so many times have succumbed to the victim mentality that holds them in a prison of shame and perceived worthlessness. Their hearts are not only broken, but also sick. I have also met some people with extremely huge hearts to help and love others, at great hope, sacrifice, and cost to themselves, to the extent of suffering physical and emotional sickness.
Proverbs 4:3 admonishes us to be very intentional to, “Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Such wisdom is found in these words, but I am going to make a confession here. I have not guarded my heart! Now, though some believe I love too easily and too strongly, I do not believe that I have failed to guard my heart in this way. Though I love passionately and fully, I have tried to always be prayerful and discerning in my romantic life. I have had more than one wealthy woman promise to by me a beach front home (knowing how much I absolutely love to be at the beach) if I would just marry them, but I have guarded my heart, as they were not God’s best for me. Last year I was asked by four different women to marry each of them. Obviously, I guarded my heart and did not give in to the temptation. Being 40 and single is not my heart’s desire, but I really am striving to wait on the Lord for my life-mate. Romantic love is not the sickness I am talking about in my heart. So, you ask, how have I not guarded my heart?
About six months ago God started bringing the above verse, Proverbs 13:12, to my attention. “Hope deferred…” There are two prominent situations of deferred hope in my life that are causing for my heart to truly be sick. First, family… I long to be a part of family. It may be strange to hear a 40 year old man speak about still longing to be adopted, officially accepted and taken into a forever home and forever family, but it is a daily longing of my heart and life. Seasons of the year enjoyed together, holidays with security of a place and people to share with, a place I can truly call home, a mom and dad to call my own, and to have the great privilege and blessing to share with friends, “Hey, I am headed home.” There is an oxymoron of an expression that says, ‘Home is where the heart is.’ My heart is laying in an infirmity bed, and I guarantee that that is not where my ‘home’ is!
Here I would like to give a big ‘Thank You!’ to the many who would have tried being ‘like’ family to me, and I do not in anyway discredit your intentions and love for me. In fact, I have grown to love many different families over my years, all around the world. However, something that is ‘like’ something is not truly the original something. When I have been treated ‘like’ family it is and has been circumstantial and different than how the family members interact with their biological families. Pardon the bluntness. This is probably why my heart has hoped and longed for a miraculous situation of some family adopting a grown up adult man… me… to truly, officially, be a forever part of their family and home. It is completely legal and accepted (though very uncommon) in the US for an adult to be legally adopted. I long to be adopted. I know God has adopted those of us who accept and obey Him to be His very own children. He doesn’t only adopt us if we accept Him as a child, but even if we don’t come to know Him until we are middle-aged or elderly, He still adopts us into His family. As hope for my earthly family has been long deferred, my heart has become sick.
The second situation of deferred hope that has caused sickness in my heart is the longing and hope I have to change the world for precious children who have not family nor home, or who come from very vulnerable, horrific, and unimaginable situations! Remembering the abuses I suffered as a child… not just a spank on the bottom, but bloody beatings, tree limbs slashing my legs, back, and buttocks. Clorox poured down my throat. Hands around my throat trying to choke the life out of me. Isolation. Deprivation. Waking to an enraged man swear death upon me and begin to physically kick me, jump on me, and throw my body against things. Sexual, physical, verbal, mental, and emotional abuse. (Many have been angry at my abusers, but God has done a miraculous thing of showing me how to truly forgive and hope the best for the abusers and violators I encountered in my childhood and beyond.) I share not for pity, but because God has used that great pain of my life to challenge my heart and life to hope to be a help to a multitude of children who suffer similar, and often far worse, situations.
I am not rich, I am not wealthy financially, and I do not have the resources (people, ideas, finances, logistical/administrative/technological abilities) to do the very things I believe that God is calling His children to do! My second hope deferred has been that the vision of Abogar, which I truly believe is God’s heart and vision, would catch on fire among His children, to truly become part of the greatest solution… moving away from temporal care and offering precious children life-long Christ-centered homes and family to belong in. This hope is that people would invest their time, talents, and treasures in the legally established 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit ministry of Abogar International Ministries. Now several are doing so, and to them we are forever grateful, but honestly we are very depleted in funds and resources. I need a team of people around me to help me keep Abogar moving forward… a social media specialist, a US director of operations, a book-keeper/accountant with knowledge of tax requirements for a non-profit, on the ground support and team in Guatemala, regional directors for areas of Latin America, etc. etc. These positions require pay, but we have so low funding right now that I am delayed in yet being paid this year. Abogar also needs finances to purchase property, and teams to come help us clean, construct, and use the property in excellence for God’s glory! My second hope that has been deferred is to have an impact globally to change the model we have used for centuries and centuries with children who are vulnerable, orphaned, and/or living in the streets. We believe in a forever home and forever family model, where the children never age out, and always will have a family and home to return to while here on this earth, no matter their age! My hope is huge, and yet it has been so deferred, as we seem to move forward one step and be shoved back three steps. I am not trying to be Negative Nancy, but reality is my hope deferred is making my heart sick!
Good news though, as I have been reading and researching in the Bible about the heart, I have come upon another gem of a verse… In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul admonishes us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I may not have guarded my heart very well, and it has become sick, but I am remembering now to present my requests to God, and asking Him to fulfill or align them as His heart so desires. I thank God for the challenges and struggles I am facing daily in ministry, because I know that, though I don’t often see how, He is work making greatness out of my feeble offering and sacrifice! I am trusting God’s peace to guard my heart! When the heart is sick, and I believe it is often, if not always, desperately sick, we must remember to bend our knees to the one who loves us so, and ask God Almighty to heal and guard our hearts for His glory!