A heart is not a library.
When it comes to our hearts (not the blood-pumping organ, but the core of our thoughts and emotions), people can’t just walk in, stack up a pile of whatever looks good, check out the selection at the front counter, and walk right out with borrowed material. Your heart was not intended to be sped-read, manhandled, and dumped into a metal return box with a dozen other dog-eared books.
A heart is more like a diary.
Just like you keep your diary under lock and key, when it comes to your heart, you’re selective about what you share. Why? Because you cherish the contents. The words on the pages of a diary expose who you are on the inside. They showcase your personality and character traits. They whisper your hopes, beliefs, sorrows, and passions.
Your diary tells your secrets, and not everyone deserves to know them.
Can I tell you a secret?
God put His heart in a book, too. (That’s not the secret.)
The secret is this: The more we look, the more of God’s heart we will see.
In Jeremiah 29:13, God promises us, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Although God promises that we will find Him, He says we must seek Him wholeheartedly. With all your heart. We’re serious about the things we want with all our hearts, aren’t we? We willingly pour time, commitment, and love into the things we are passionate about. Why? We believe our effort will somehow be rewarded.
What, then, is the reward of seeking God?
It’s Him—He is the reward.
How to Develop the Craving
The reward of seeking Christ is a bit like your favorite flavor of ice cream: You don’t crave it until you’ve had it once before. In Psalm 34:8, the Psalmist urges us, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” Until we’ve sought Christ and experienced who He is for ourselves, we don’t quite know how good the reward tastes.
But do we truly want that reward with all our hearts?
Often, we are content with being told who God is rather than seeking Him out ourselves. Pastors, sermons, books, and even song lyrics tell us who God is. Too often, we don’t crave Christ enough to pick up our own Bibles and to pray, “God, show me who You are.” We’re quick to say, “Oh, I know God,” when really we just know about Him. It’s the difference between glimpsing the Eiffel Tower in a photograph and gaping up at it in Paris. They don’t compare.
Knowing about God isn’t knowing God.
The great thing? If we want to know God, we will. Listen to His promises . . .
I will give them an heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart (Jer. 24:7).
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded (James 4:8).
God reveals His heart to us as we pursue Him.
God reveals His heart to us as we pursue Him. He has pursued a relationship with us since day one, but He has also given us the gift of free will. Ultimately, we get to choose whether we want to know God’s heart or not. If we refuse Him, neglect to seek Him, or simply ignore Him, He allows us to make that choice.
So how can we choose to crave Him more? Here are three ideas.
3 Tips for Knowing God’s Heart
1. Be patient.
The first time you meet a casual friend for a hazelnut latte, you’re probably not going to gush all your deepest secrets at once. As time progresses and the relationship builds, the secrets of who you are will emerge. For now, you’re just beginning to spend time together. You’re enjoying talking and laughing, but there’s no deep connection yet. That will take time—lots of it, if the relationship will be a strong and enduring one. In the same way, knowing and enjoying God takes time.
When you’ve spent time diligently reading God’s Word and you just can’t seem to make sense of what He’s trying to teach you, it’s okay to admit, “God, I’m confused. I don’t understand. But I’ll be back tomorrow, and the day after that, and the next day, too, because I want to know You. Please show me who You are.”
Little by little, God will share the secrets of His heart with you through His Word. When He does, it will be well worth every moment you invested.
2. Be secondary.
When I first began spending daily time in God’s Word, I wrote down favorite verses and taped them on my desk and bedroom walls. I loved the verses that spoke to me, promised good things, and sounded poetic. I constantly asked, “God, what does this passage say about me?” Ultimately, though, the Bible is not a book about me.
The Bible is a book about God.
I got this truth backward for several years. I searched for myself—my identity, my needs—in God’s Word. Yes, the Bible does show us how to live and that is so important but secondary to the Bible’s true purpose. The primary reason we read God’s Word is not to find ourselves but rather to find God.
When I finally realized this, I wrote the words “Look for Jesus” on a 3×5 card and slid it into my Bible. It became a constant reminder of why I was cracking my Bible open at all.
The understanding that God is a Person revolutionized the way I read my Bible. I gained an accurate perception of who God is when I began studying the Bible with the consciousness that God is a thinking, breathing, feeling Being with unchanging characteristics. Soon, I discovered that His character traits were bursting from the pages of my Bible.
3. Be thoughtful.
Write down things about God’s character that you discover.
- His sufficiency is a theme of Psalm 23.
- I see His consistency in Romans 1.
- His mercy jumps out at me in the Old Testament as Israel repents and then turns away from Him repeatedly.
- In the Gospels, my heart is softened by His compassion as He heals the sick and teaches the lost multitudes.
As you compile a list of God’s characteristics, you will see His heart more clearly. And as you behold who God is, it will change you. You will be so overwhelmed by His love that you cannot help but love others the same way. His humility will strip away every “right” or desire for pride that you once clung to. You’ll cherish His forgiveness so deeply that you will be compelled to show mercy as well.
Second Corinthians 3:18 explains, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
This verse helps us to picture God’s Word as a mirror. As we look into it, we see a reflection. But it’s not ours; it’s His. We see all that God is and all that we are not. The deeper we look and the more we spend time in front of that mirror seeking God’s heart, the more He changes us to reflect His image.