“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!”
Years ago, my wife and I were embroiled in a controversy between friends that had us pretty torn up. Actually, truth be told, I was the one embroiled and torn up, not her.
And since I tend to beat a dead horse verbally (not to mention mentally), I was going on and on like Mrs. Manners Police. This behavior was so darned discourteous and selfish. Illogical even. “Surely she’s seeing this,” I thought as I ranted about theoretical inconsistencies, clearly impressed by my own nimble skill in dismantling my imaginary opponent’s point of view. She didn’t even have to say a word. All it took was a glazed look, and suddenly, it struck me. These people and their supposed flawed logic had ceased to be people and had become mere ideas. Ideas I could easily do intellectual judo on for the easy submission hold. In a short one-sided conversation, I’d built an entire Empire of Self.
This was going to require some prayer.
Later that week in the morning, I remembered an interesting quote that I’d heard that week. It went something like this: What you think about in your free time reveals your true religion. “Very insightful, I’ll have to use that sometime,” I thought as returned to dismantling an imaginary opponent’s theory with my impeccably timed intellectual judo. I froze. In an instant, my circulatory system turned to ice water. I’d just found my true religion. It was ugly.
Mornings now serve as a kind of barometer for my true heart condition. Wretched man that I am, most days, I cannot help myself. I’m back to the make-believe opponent conquering when Psalm 139:23-24 will come to mind. The moment the Spirit kindly reminds me of my dark, religious proclivities, I automatically pray this Scripture. Some days it is a joyful repentance. Other days it’s merely verse memorization exercises. But it’s never behavior modification.
As my heart is searched, dismantled, and exposed for all its blackness, God is faithful to lead me in the way everlasting. Even when I don’t deserve it. Especially when I don’t deserve it.