Following Christ is more about the heart than I have often realized. I’m not talking about the physical organ pumping in the chest, I’m talking about the spiritual “organ” described in the Bible as our will, the receiver of our thoughts, emotions, physical impulses and the part of us that leads us. When God chose someone to be king over his precious and beloved people, his first criteria was a good heart. As the Proverbist says, “All man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.” I notice that when my heart is well cared for, the circumstances of my life, whether good or bad, are less likely to steal away my devotion to Christ. I make better decisions. I enjoy life more. I laugh more and cry more. The people around me are more blessed. I believe God is honored. I’ve come to agree with another Proverb, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”Guarding my heart has become one of my life’s greatest and most challenging callings. I take comfort in the fact that King David found this challenging work too, as evidenced in the Psalms. A stray bitterness, an unspoken fear, a cunning yearning unsuspectingly creeps into a heart already predisposed to embrace such things (Jer. 17:9!). I have to use every tool God has given for this important work: scripture, reason, community and prayer. I work at it but God has the final say. There is a lot of waiting. Some days don’t end with resolution. I’m not the super hero “Heart Man.” I count it a victory if I notice that something is wrong and just take that to him: “Lord, show me what it is.” The writer of the Proverbs says, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” He is keenly interested in helping me guard my heart. It is not an easy process but it is always worth it.Some of my best memories are of times when my heart was in the right place. I walked with an easy confidence in the Lord, I made some good decisions, I was truly loving towards the person in front of me. The longer I follow Christ, the more often I find myself in that sweet place. I’m learning that I’d rather be there than almost anywhere else.For more thoughts on the process of guarding the heart, explore these links: scripture, prayer and community.