"Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil." - Proverbs 4:23-27
When I first started thinking about this verse, I kept getting a picture of people throwing trash into my wellspring! Oh, let's be honest...I've been tossing some of it in there myself! Then I wonder, why is my heart sick...good grief - just look at what I've been drinking! Some of the garbage is found in the form of television...mostly fluff. Some is wasted time, some is just allowing life to toss its refuse my way. That's the garbage that's easy to clear out. A few swipes and it's gone. Some garbage, however, is much more toxic and difficult to remove. That kind of garbage comes for me, in the form of failure, fear and dread. There's been a lot of toxic waste to choose from lately. Some is wrapped up in the election, some is wrapped up in the news, some isn't even wrapped...it comes special delivery and dives right in! I find that I not only partake of this stuff, but I spill over onto my family and everyone around me! Surely I'm not the only one who has barrels of toxic waste waiting to bob to the surface with each passing wave!
I've decided that I'm taking a stand. (Gee, that's scary to write!) I'm choosing to guard my heart. I may have to consciously block some garbage that wants to come my way, and I may have to reach in and clear out some refuse that drifts in, but I'm going to keep this spring clear. I don't want to look into my life and see some polluted river with dead floating fish and green slime that looks like it could crawl out of the water and eat me! I don't want my wellspring to look like some sort of Ganges river filled with the ashes of dead dreams and false gods, (not to mention sacred cows!) I want a spring that bubbles and is clear and fresh and cool....one that sustains life and hope.
Yes, I know things look bad, but I'm also going to keep my eyes focused straight ahead...directly before me. (That's the second part of that verse that I'd forgotten until I looked it up!) It's a funny thing, whatever you focus on, you tend to veer in that direction. When I'm running, if I focus straight ahead and lift my head, I do much better. I feel better and I have hope that the goal is within reach. When I drop my head, the race becomes difficult...it's much easier to quit. If I look in either direction, I find my steps are following my gaze. I have to ask myself, am I looking down at myself, outward to the problem, or am I focused on the goal?
Whether we look at what is happening in our lives as garbage that tries to muddy the waters, or as something that tries to distract us to look its way, either way we must guard our hearts. We can not simply drift along and go with the flow...as tempting as that may be. It is time to set our eyes on the goal - the One who is the Author and finisher of our faith. Guard our heart so that out of it may come clean waters for the thirsty soul.
I plan on reminding myself of this the next time I buy groceries and the bill is so staggering it makes me ill. I will remind myself of this when my children act like, well, children. I will remind myself of this when life becomes so daily that I find myself not living for the moment but waiting for the someday. I will guard my heart, fix my eyes on the goal and travel on. Care to join me?