"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
There once was a pond, sitting in the middle of a beautiful forest. It mirrored the breathtaking flowers sitting on it's shore. Like a dance, the water lapped beautifully against the sand. The pond was purely translucent. There was no dirt at the bottom to stir up, and you could see directly through it even at the deepest point. It clearly showed the fish swimming around and the detailed crystals as they reflected off sun. It's beauty was not in vain. For within the deepest cove of the water, there lived a Voice. A Voice so powerful that it sang together the very creation of the entire forest itself. A Voice so peaceful that the birds chirped harmony along with its sweet notes. The trees loved this Voice. It was their pride to droop over the crystal-clear water and sway to the sound of it.
The pond was not alone. Streams flowed into it's core. Water from all over the forest would forcefully rush towards the Voice in the center of the pond. This translucent water and the soothing Voice were the very heart of the forest. It pumped life into the soil, which gave a soul to the trees. They were alive, swaying in the breeze, and eagerly awaiting the Voice's song. One day a magician found the forest and became envious of the natural magic it possessed. He danced up to the trees like a black crow smelling of evil sorcery. Leaping to the edge of the forest, he pulled out a picture and waved it in front of the trees. He spoke sweetly of his painting, and the tree's eyes looked upon this drifting piece of parchment. For it was covered in thick ink displaying a green and muddy swamp. As the magician skipped around the forest, he waved the disgusting swamp in the air and sung of the beauty that this picture held. He enticed them to look at the vivd green and the clumpy dirt. He swayed back-and-forth pointing at the parchment. He spoke of the frogs that hid underneath the rocks, and the snakes that slivered at the bottom. He poetically described the fragrance the mud brought to this dark swamp. After hours and hours of this evil act, the magician pulled out his evil flute and played a sound that perfectly echoed the sound of the Voice. With one last note, the trees magically saw themselves, seemingly happy, standing beside the swamp's dirty water.
Finally, one of the trees stretched out his branch. It was only looking at first, it was only curious. The painting looked so breathtaking, and the song was ever so sweet. But as it stretched out it's branch, it revealed a single stream leading into the heart of the pond. All the tree had done was barely stretch out one branch, all it wanted was one touch. But the magician was cunning. He knew that the only way to destroy the forest was through it's heart. The moment the tree curiously gave into the sweet song, the evil magician dropped his hidden potion into the stream's edge.
Right as this dark, thick liquid hit the water's surface, a black swamp began to grow. All at once, the flowers lost their color, and the bird stopped chirping. For the silence of the Voice was ringing through the entire forest. It wasn't that the Voice had left, but the black, murky swamp water became so thick within the pond that the Voice was muzzled. And for years the forest stayed silent; not because it had died, but because it was too ashamed that it had lost it's beauty. One day, in a pile of mud near the surface of water, there was a weed that grew very close the ground. As it sat with it's face pressed to the mud, it began to hear the hum of something underground. How delicate this vibration sounded to this scrawny weed. There, within the leaves of the weed, hope shone like a light. And for the first time in years, the vivid color of the blossoming flower reflected off that muddy pond water. That small piece of hope was all the Voice needed. It had been buried long enough, gathering the pressure for what was about to happen. For the Voice didn't care about the way the forest looked, and it was far to powerful to be cooped up forever. An explosion erupted from within, rising to the peak of the sky, raining on every acre of land, and washing off the mud. Forever after the forest grew and danced. For the water never became again as pure as it had been before, but the forest was covered in the tangible echo of the Voice. Sometimes, I think we forget that God created us to be vessels.
God gave us a crystal-clear heart to house His most important gift for us: The Holy Spirit. He designed us to dance to His voice, and sing of His truth. He intended for us to live in intimacy and harmony with Him. BUT, this world is full of evil. The enemy cunningly marches around our lives beckoning us to momentarily good things that muzzle the voice of The Holy Spirit within our hearts.Things like polluted music, movies, social media, the internet, pornography, sexual intimacy before its time, curse words, and even food. The list continues into each day as we are approached with the magician's dance. And what we often forget, like the forest itself, is grace. Yah, we screw up- big time. Yah, we watch movies that put ideas into our mind that should have never entered. But even though we are covered in dark mud, the voice of God hasn't gone away. He longs to speak to you. He longs to be apart of your decision making. He wants to tell you what to eat or who to sit with. He craves adventure with you. But the more we stretch out our branches into momentary pleasures, the deeper His voice is buried. I personally lead a bible study for High School girls. The number one thing I get asked is, "How do I know what my calling is?" or "How do I know I am hearing God's voice?". Well let me put one thing to rest, God longs to speak to His children. He is always ready to tell you your exact calling. There will be few moments when God is silent before you. But He is muzzled beneath idols like what people think of us, our impure thoughts, or sex. All that it takes is hope.
When we surrender our ugliest parts to Jesus, God erupts inside of us. No, you'll never ever be perfect. But everything you are flows form your heart. Every decision, every word, every breath. He is whatever you are not; meaning whatever you lack, whatever your weakness, that's what makes Him perfect within you. It doesn't matter what you've done. When Jesus looks at you, He sees purity. Because the love of Jesus covers all things. And His spirit longs to speak into our lives. So the more we purify our lives now, knowing that we are imperfect, the more life will spring from it.