When we were first married, one of our favorite television shows was “Hee Haw”. The humor was cheesy, but the cast of characters was endearing. We loved Roy Clark’s guitar solos and the old-time country music. The Hee Haw Gospel Quartet was always a greatly anticipated delight.
Often, however, I think of Stringbean (played by David Akeman) as I can still vividly picture him after reading a letter, he felt over his bib overalls searching pockets frantically looking for his “heart heart heart”. It was funny then, but as I remember his desperate search for his heart, I’m reminded of Isaiah 29:13.
“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.”
Every time I read this verse, my heart is pierced. I ask myself, is my relationship with God based on how other’s perceive Him or is it based on first-hand knowledge derived from a personal relationship with Him. “Heart heart heart” … does God have to frantically search for my heart as Stringbean did on Hee Haw? Is my heart far from Him while my words honor Him?
The very thought that the Lord might look at any of us and say, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” brings tears to my eyes. Surely His people are those whose hearts have drawn near to Him and who worship Him in spirit and in truth! Surely this couldn’t be speaking about you or me!
No one can bear the responsibility of our relationship with the Lord but us. We cannot depend on our pastor or teacher to spoon-feed us week after week and do nothing of our own initiative during the week to build our relationship with the Lord.
David wrote in Psalm 62:7, “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” In other words, he found God to be His everything. “God is MY salvation!” “God is MY glory!” “God is the rock of MY strength!” “God is MY refuge!” What he didn’t say is, “God is MY PASTOR’S salvation and he will keep me in good standing with God!” Or, he didn’t say, “God is MY TEACHER’S glory and if I attend faithfully, my teacher will represent God’s glory to me!” Again, he didn’t say, “God is MY CHURCH LEADER’S refuge and if I stick close to him or her, I’ll be safe!”
So many people depend on others to be their link to God. God says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” All too often people find themselves following man rather than following God … “their hearts are far from me.”
Don’t allow anyone to be your link to God for you. If you do, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Man will fail you every time. I guarantee you know people who have been hurt in church and vowed never to return. Why is that? Because they depended on man, they put man on a pedestal; their hearts were far from God.
Beware of cultivating a second-hand relationship with God. Beware of depending on someone else’s relationship with God as your security in Him. Release pastors and church leaders from bearing the burden of responsibility for your relationship with God. Know God intimately through a personal relationship with Him. Be like David and say, “God is MY salvation, MY glory, the rock of MY strength, and MY refuge!” God will never fail you, He’ll never fall, and He’ll never again look at you and say, “their hearts are far from me.”
Lord, teach me to be like David and know You as MY salvation, MY glory, the rock of MY strength, and MY refuge in greater measure with each passing day. Lord, I want to know you so personally that though everyone else may fall, my trust and faith in You will not be shaken. In Jesus’ name, by His blood, for His glory, amen and amen!
“He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved.” (Psalm 62:6)
© Jan Ross
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