It’s easy to be fooled into thinking that your heart is in pretty good condition. And so perhaps you’ve had thoughts like these:
I’m a good person.
I attend church twice a week: Sundays and Wednesdays.
I go to a weekly Bible study and contribute to the discussions.
I’m pretty good at keeping up with my daily devotionals.
I volunteer in my community and help those less fortunate.
I tithe to my church and to other para-church organizations and charities.
I’m kind to my family and help out when they need me.
I try to keep up with friends and pray for them.
Sound familiar? We can focus on the peripheral so much so that we forget to dig a little deeper and see what’s really going on inside our hearts. At least that’s the way it is for me.
Well, I’ve discovered a surefire method that will quickly expose the condition of the heart. That’s right. Here it is: it’s driving. Yes. D-R-I-V-I- N-G. In a car. Anywhere you choose to go.
When you’re driving, the real you comes out to play. At least that’s the case for me (and I would venture to guess for a lot of others, too … if you’re being brutally honest).
I know that I would never want someone to record the thoughts that go through my mind or the words that exit my mouth when I’m driving. They’re not R-rated, but I’m sure not proud of them and wouldn’t want them inscribed on my tombstone.
These thoughts don’t happen all the time. But I would say at least once a week. Like last night. As I made my way through a notoriously divey part of the city, I encountered folks driving WAY below the speed limit. Are you kidding me? Are they driving this way on purpose just to spite me? Other folks cut me off while trying to get in front of other slow drivers in other lanes. Nice. Thanks A LOT. Get your car’s rear bumper out of my lane!
One car was partially in the center turn lane (on this busy street, there are three lanes on either side—so that both lanes can use the shared center lane to make left-hand turns) and partially in the lane RIGHT NEXT to the turn lane. So, basically the car was sitting on a diagonal between two lanes.
Well, guess who was driving in the lane right next to the center turn lane and had to stop in the lane right next to the center turn lane and wait forever because of the car that was partially in the center turn lane and partially in the one right next to the center turn lane????????? Breathe. That’s right. It was me.
All I can say is that the words that entered my mind while having to come to a full stop shocked me. And then I immediately thought, Did I really think that? My heart is so ugly. I am weak. Oh, dear God. Please help me. Please forgive me. Please change my heart.
I’m not telling what the words were, because I am ashamed. But I will tell you this: they enlightened me. They shone a light on the dark corners of my heart where there’s gunky buildup. I saw how horribly corroded and nasty it was in there—almost like when you pull up the stopper from your garbage disposal. Foul!
I saw the judgment. I saw the pride. I saw the lack of love and forgiveness. I saw my sinfulness.
It’s stuff that needs to be cleaned out—really bleached out—on a consistent basis. But bleach smells, it’s strong and it stings. Who wants to willingly open up their hearts for that? It’s hard to do, but it’s absolutely essential if we are to stay spiritually healthy and "heart smart" (Psalm 51:7).
While I’m disappointed in my current condition, I’m thankful that driving (which I do on a fairly regular basis) is doing such a good job of exposing what’s there.
And until I’m rich and famous and have a chauffeur someday (cough) or until I’m old and decrepit and can’t maneuver a moving vehicle anymore, I know that my next heart check is just one keyed ignition, one gear change and one gas pedal away.