A friend was eulogizing a man who had suddenly passed away, saying, “He had such a good heart!” To really know the heart of a person means going beyond the veneer of respectability and getting to know a person from the inside out. Occasionally we talk of intimacy with another person, saying, “He really opened his heart with me,” something we are not often prone to do.
If it is true that we seldom bare our hearts to each other (and I think you would probably agree that such a statement is true) is it possible that finite man can ever really get to know the heart of God? Bringing it home where you live, can you understand the heart of God? Can a human, any human, ever get so close to the Almighty that he can, even in a small measure, understand the heart of God?
There are some barriers that stand between us and a knowledge of God’s heart, barriers which can come down.
The first barrier that keeps us from knowing the heart of God is the simple fact that we don’t know God.
The first step in righting this situation is the understanding that you were made in the image of God, not God made in your image. No one can understand the heart of God until he first understands that man’s heart has been darkened by his rebellion against God. In the days of Noah, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain,” so says the book of Genesis (See 6:5,6).
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
A second barrier that has to come down for you to know the heart of God is to overcome your preoccupation with yourself.
Long ago, God said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13), and that promise is valid today; but when we are only seeking handouts from God, thinking that He is a divine “office boy” to do our bidding on command, our focus is need-centered, not God-centered. To know the heart of God means that you must focus upon Him, get to know Him, strive to see life from His perspective, and understand how different is His view of our lives and our problems. To know the heart of God demands changing our focus from self to the divine.
The third barrier that must come down if we are to know the heart of God is our ignorance of the nature and character of God.
Long ago the prophet Hosea wrote, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6), and his lament is far more descriptive of our generation than anyone in recent years.
A. W. Tozer wrote, “The Bible assumes as a self-evident fact that men can know God with at least the same degree of immediacy as they know any other person or thing that comes within the field of their experience. The same terms are used to express the knowledge of God as are used to express knowledge of physical things.” Your physical senses bring knowledge of the Almighty in the same way that they bring knowledge of your best friend, but there is one more barrier that must be crossed. It is overcoming the barrier of our lack of knowledge of His written Word, and the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.
A relationship with Jesus Christ opens the window of understanding to the heart of the Father, and to know Him requires an understanding of God’s Word, the Bible.
Going back to that initial question, can you really know the heart of God? Indeed, you can, and knowing the heart of God brings all of life into focus. The path of discovery is the way of life itself.
Resource reading: Jeremiah 29:11-14