Above All Else, Guard Your Heart, For It Is The Wellspring of Life (Proverbs 4:23)

A Christian guarding her heart under lock and key (Proverbs 4:23 and Song of Solomon/Songs). Depicted in her heart is Jesus the Bridegroom and the Bride of Christ in a Garden, symbolising intimacy with God.

BELIEVER’S ROAD SERIES 2

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SOLD, Graphite and Colored Pencil, 35.5 cm x 42 cm (14″ x 16.5″), Cards Available

 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

The Lord created us to be in a loving, personal relationship with him. (See “Message” for how to enter into that relationship). This is where we find complete and lasting fulfillment and contentment. It is where the gnawing, empty void in our soul is totally and finally filled. When we have intimacy with Jesus we have need of absolutely nothing,  and we have no other desire in life than to continually pour out our love for him in worship.

Jesus pointed out our fundamental need for a loving relationship with him when he spoke with a Samaritan woman:

“Now he [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’

‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?’

Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’

The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’

He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’

‘I have no husband,’ she replied.

Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’

‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’

Jesus declared, ‘Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.’

The woman said, ‘I know that ‘Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’

Then Jesus declared, ‘I who speak to you am he.’ (John 4:1-26)

We all thirst to be in a relationship with God where we are loved and where we love him. (Worship is our expression of love for God).

“What a man desires is unfailing love…” (Proverbs 19:22). God’s love is what satisfies us, for it is unconditional and unfailing: “…your [God’s] love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3). Man’s love, on the other hand, is imperfect, limited and often changing. Furthermore, our thirst for love is more voracious than what any man can give us.

Like the Samaritan woman most of us seek to quench that thirst through a spouse or other relationships. As a result we go from person to person, ‘drinking’ them in, but we find we are never fully satisfied. We stuff our hearts full of idols instead of opening our hearts up widely and richly to God. When we seek to satisfy our thirst with other things aside from God, we become slaves to our own thirst, just like a man without water.

(See also: “Living Water” (Believers’ Road Series 2)).

“‘I [God] remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert…

Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols. Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror,’ declares the LORD. ‘My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water…

Return, faithless people,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I am your husband…'” (Jeremiah 2:2,13; 3:14)

We must guard our hearts and our intimate relationship with Jesus above all else, for he is the very source of our life (John 14:6). As long as we continually drink of him, the abundant life of God continually fills us and overflows out of us (John 4:13-14; 6:35; 7:37-39; 15:4-5, Revelation 22:17). Whenever we are not genuinely drinking in Jesus, we will always be exposed by thirsting after other things more than him.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2)

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” (Psalm 63:1-5)

We must be diligent to guard our hearts from all things that seek to take his place–other people, things, loves, idols, desires, ambitions, etc.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

We must also be cautious to guard our hearts from outward influences and attacks that would seek to destroy the intimacy we have with God. (See “He Saves His Bride” (John the Baptist Artworks Series 2)).

On one hand, we can stray from Jesus if we keep close company with unbelievers, whose hearts are inclined toward the world. On the other hand, professing believers who habitually compromise their fidelity to Jesus with sin can often prove to be a more destructive force against our relationship with God than unbelievers. See 1 John 2:3-6, 2 Corinthians 11:2-4, 1 Corinthians 15:33-34, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Revelation 2:14-16; 20-25.

“A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26)

Jesus also warns us, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6). We must guard our pearls–the treasures that come out of intimacy with God–and not share them with people who will despise them and attack us and the precious Lord we love.

This drawing features a woman carefully guarding her heart and opening it exclusively up to Jesus. In doing so, I am depicting the following Scripture:

[Lover] ‘How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice!…You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain’…[Beloved] ‘Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad. Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits’…[Lover] ‘I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice, I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk.'” (Song of Songs, 4:10, 12, 16, 5:1)

Our hearts are like gardens, vibrant and fragrant with the scents of love and worship. We choose who (or what) we worship and lavish our love upon. In my drawing, this woman has chosen to lavish her love upon Jesus (See John 12:1-8 for an example of this). “But my own vineyard is mine to give; the thousand shekels are for you, O Solomon…” (Song of Songs 8:12).

In referencing a garden, I am also alluding to the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were created to walk with God in a pure, loving relationship with him (Genesis 1-3). This is the place of communion and intimacy with God where we are always meant to be, and it is what God earnestly desires to have with us.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God and departed from that place by God’s side in the Garden, the place of communion and intimacy (Genesis 3:8). “But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ (Genesis 3:9).

In God’s pained question to the man we hear the real cry of his heart: Why aren’t you here with me, Adam? Why have you departed from your place of intimacy and communion with me?”

Of course we know that Adam and Eve were afraid of God because of their sin (Genesis 3:10), but we also know that Jesus died to take away our sin (1 John 3:5).Through faith in the shed blood of Jesus we can always confidently draw near to God to enjoy intimate communion with him. Through the Holy Spirit we can abide in our Garden of intimate communion with God.

All praise and thanks be to Jesus who, through his atoning death on the cross and resurrection, regained for us this Paradise lost.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:19-22)

Within the woman’s heart, she stands, as part of the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32, Revelation 21-22), enjoying the exceeding pleasure of being with Jesus face to face.

(See also “Worship: The Kiss of Intimacy” (Praise and Worship Series 2).)