A Trip to the Doctor

Sermon excerpt from February 26, 2023

(Full Sermon Video Below)

For Lent we are considering an examined life. Truth be told, it is not so much that we examine our life but we allow God to do it for us and prepare our souls to receive the his truth about our lives. The stakes are too high to not undertake examination as uncomfortable as it may be. The psalmist reveals that “While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength dried up as by the heat of summer.”[1] Keeping silent. Hiding our souls from God revealing what is going on inside them and refusing to acknowledge our struggles is a surefire way to remain in potential bitterness, envy, pride, loss of relationships and a host of other heart issues which do not lead to life but to “wasting away”.

What is going on in our heart can only be revealed to us by God. That is why the psalmist prays, “Search me and know my heart.”[2] Only after a searching of our heart by God and an openness to hear from God do we begin to truly understand ourselves. I know that may be shocking to hear. How many times have we heard the expression, “I’m going away to find myself”? That is a fool’s errand. The Christian version is, “I find myself through a relationship with God” which is why the psalmist proclaims God’s promise, “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”[3]

So awareness begins with offering God access to our heart. It is both a repentant and confessional posture. Turning to God and acknowledging that he will do a better job than we can in revealing what is going on and healing it. Repentance. Confession. They are the ways we receive forgiveness from God and grow in understanding.

This really isn’t a foreign concept for us if we think about it. For instance, when you go to the doctor this is what you do. Repentant and confess. Turn in her or his direction by going to their office and then giving them access to your vital signs, telling them your symptoms, allowing all kinds of intrusive testing, and then waiting for an answer that will bring healing. 

So, the invitation is for us to go to the great physician this Lent.

We begin the examination with the phrase “Search me and know my heart.” But doesn’t God already know our heart? Yep. This prayer is not for God but us. We acknowledge our need and invite God to open our heart up to the examination which brings understanding. The heart is the place that our will and motivation to act comes from. It is the exact place where God deposits the desire for a relationship with him so that we may not be satisfied with anything else.[4] The psalmist says that until God has our heart, God must use other means to keep us in line like the bit in a horses mouth. The law is one way that God keeps us in line until he gets our heart. After our heart is aligned with God, then we follow the law as a by-product of our relationship that is filled with integrity for God and our neighbor. The quicker we allow God access to the seat of our will, the more fully we “walk in his way and delight in his will.”[5]

Search me and know our heart.

Use this as a breath prayer for the week. Write it down and keep it with you. Keep coming back to the phrase and spend time listening to what God’s Spirit is saying.

May the Great Physician heal us and free us for joyful obedience.

An Examined Life: Search Me and Know My Heart

[1] Psalm 139:23

[2] Psalm 32:8

[3] Ps. 32:3-4

[4] Augustine

[5 Book of Common Prayer, Prayer of Thanksgiving