The Heart of the Matter
Written by: Joshua L. Williams
I’m at a weird place in life. I struggled for a long time living a double life and now I don't really like fake stuff. I’m at a point where I constantly ask, “Okay God, what's real and what's not?” I’m really wanting to transition from a place of behavior to really having the heart of God. In the church there’s a certain type of behavior, there's a certain type of culture there; but I believe that through the grace of God we have to find a way to transition from it being a behavior to it actually being a way of life for us.
Growing up, my mother would offer me and my siblings incentives for making good grades and helping out around the house. I never really valued education in my younger days, and definitely wasn't feeling the whole clean up, clean up, everybody clean up thing, but I knew that if I wanted those little green pieces of paper that hold so much value in our lives today, I was going to have to do the things required to get what I wanted. That meant participating in class, finishing my assignments, turning my homework in on time, vacuuming around the house, and washing dishes. I began to do more than ever, but every so often my mother wouldn't pay me and she would just say thank you. Can you guess what happened? I grew a little disappointed. Why? Because it wasn't real. I was operating from a place of behavior and was expecting something in return.
God made it evident to me that I had to grow up. You vacuum the floor because the floor is dirty, you wash the dishes because the dishes need washing. As I grew older and went off to college my mother no longer provided an incentive for my grades, but for some crazy reason I was on the Dean’s List for two and a half years before my entrepreneurial spirit moved me to ditch college. And the most ironic thing of it all is now that I am no longer in school, I’ve read more books than all of my years in formal education combined. I’ve become addicted to personal growth and progressing in life.
I don't know exactly what happened, but somewhere along the line it transitioned from merely behavior to my heart being in it. As I've reflected on this very simple yet very practical example here, I've seen these very things take place within my life spiritually, and if I can be candid with you, it’s been painful. For a while I felt I was doing things right and God asked me for more.
I'm like... "Man, what are you talking about? I'm already doing this and doing that. What else do you want from me?"
God’s like... "Son, you are giving me your behavior, but I want your heart! I want a relationship with you.
You know why God asked me for more? Because I was asking Him for more. How often do we ask God for something, but we refuse to move toward Him? I had to completely audit my life and get rid of several things that I idolized more than Christ (including my convertible Camaro, which I loved oh so much!!). And relationships had to come to an end with certain individuals as well, which is never easy. I feel like my faith has been tested more than it ever has been before. But isn't that the way it should be? As we grow, we face new challenges, and those challenges forge our character. I've always heard that a faith that is never tested cannot be proven.
The last couple of years have been a very frustrating journey (who doesn't have growing pains in their early 20s?), but it has been a beautiful journey because I'm becoming spiritually stronger! I’m at a point now where I open my Bible because I want to, I spend time with God because I want to, I get involved with my church community because I want to... not simply because that's what I'm supposed to do. The difference has been the heart of the matter, if you will.
So my question for you is this: Are you operating from a place of surface level behavior or from a place of a healthy heart and reverence for God?
Joshua L. Williams
Joshua is a young sales executive who is passionate about personal growth and development and helping underprivileged children think bigger and live bigger. Connect with him on Facebook and Instagram and find him on Snapchat by searching jwill-21.
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