Beware: “The Tidy & Tiny Life”!
Feast of the Heart exists to help bring about Christ-centered “reformation, revival, and constructive revolution” (Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City) so that God will be glorified and people blessed.
Reformation… we seek to abide by and serve up the true truth, pure doctrine of the Bible
Revival… we seek to model biblical Christians living in word and deed
Constructive Revolution… we seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment
As we begin, I have a prayer that might help us open our hearts: “Father, Son, Holy Spirit, we’re so grateful for Your manifold mercies and that you imagined us as sons and daughters by predestined-calling, repentance, and faith—loving and serving you by running the good race of the Christian life before time ever came into being!
As we gather around this sacred table as a community of faith, rest, and encouragement to feast upon Your Love and Truth, we think of those who have come before us. Those, who, like Olympic track runner Eric Liddell, was crowned with the laurels of Olympic Gold, but gave YOU, YOU, only YOU all the glory… Akin the You, Jesus, he sacrificed it all to bless others—for the crown, the laurels of glory, which You would set upon his head: whether it be on the Olympic podium or the “Heavenly podium” where he and we will receive rewards commensurate to stewarding our faith (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
As Liddell said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure … We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ … You will know as much of God, and only as much of God, as you are willing to put into practice.” (Eric Liddell, The Disciplines of the Christian Life) Liddell lived life his life in Christ large!
Liddell’s last words were, “It’s complete surrender”, in reference to how he had given his life to God. Oh, Trinity, enable our epitaphs to be so glorious as a surrendered life can be…
Please, glorious Trinity, above all things, help us live so far beyond “The Tidy & Tiny Life” that it’s laughable… it’s radical… it’s a reflection of Yourself:
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand? (Job 26:14)
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4)
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. (Psalm 107:28-30)
Holy Trinity, there isn’t the slightest possibility that You are anything remotely akin to a “Tidy & Tiny God.” No, You are more ubiquitous and grand than words offered for eternity can describe. Help us as fallen Image Bearers, rescued and redeemed, to break the idols and break through boundaries of the “Tidy ‘n Tiny Life.” For we pray this in Your Son’s all-powerful and most precious Name, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
First things first: Living the Tidy… Controlled, Orderly, Well-Kept, Ship-Shape, and Composed… Life?
How Did Things Get So Tidy? “The Compartmentalization Corruption.” That’s how.
When God created the progenitors of humankind in Adam and then Eve (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7), He knelt in the clay-dirt, gathered a handful, formed a resemblance of man, breathed into it, and [my harmless yet vital conjecture:] Adam’s heart leapt into being, given life, and animated—first.
The heart is a magnificent “natural and supernatural organ”—the biological life-giving centerpiece of God’s consummate creation AND [don’t miss this] the repository of not only God’s “communicable attributes” [His moral attributes such as love, goodness, wisdom, goodness, justice, rationality, hate, kindness, and more], but a holistic ecosystem of abundance and abounding, teeming, bursting-with-life that might even be comparable to Eden itself!
The heart’s interior spaces were completely open, unfettered, unspeakably beautiful, new, fresh, and glorious in every imaginable and unimaginable way. Akin to stepping into the most gorgeous place on earth [except on mega-steroids], the ecosystem of Adam’s originally sumptuous, holistic, and grandiose heart was awe-inspiring in every way.
At the heart of humanity, this was how things were, “In the beginning…” (Genesis 1,2).
The Fall and Getting Tiny: How God-Likeness and Utter Openness Begins to Shut Down
By definition, and like all human loves, God’s love is designed to be a reciprocal arrangement, relationship. When God offered a test—and Satan served-up a temptation—of this heavenly love relationship, Eve and Adam’s free-fill choice to love God totally in return was tested and tempted. And, as we’re all well-aware, Eve then Adam chose poorly.
And one of the explanations, motivations, and familiar word phrases which best expresses the nub of our forbearer’s Original-Inherited Sin problem is “Adam and Eve had control issues”: They chose to be gods of their own life by asserting control over their life—rather than give complete control to Him… Only Him… their creator, sustaining, loving, and truthful Father God.
Can You See It? Have I done a good enough job thus far for you to anticipate what happens to the hearts of Adam and Eve—and every human being since? To begin with, let me put it this way: have you ever been to a jaw-droppingly beautiful place that’s been crapped-out by neglect, littering, sewage, selfishness, poor planning, a quick buck, and the stench of all sorts of decay that might bring tears to your eyes?
When Adam and Eve sinned, their hearts—as our hearts are born this way—began to harden, congeal, ossify, decay, shut down, petrify… Piering appeared. Buttresses went up. Walls went sky high. Rooms with locks on the door replaced wide-open spaces. Labyrinths, mazes, and barbed-wire fences crowded out the previously beautiful panoramas so that the only view was an ugly interruption in the view.
Every realm of the heart was closed off from other parts of the heart. And the lack of “the Spirit’s circulation” of freshness, of life, of the blessed, unmitigated and uninterrupted breezes of His original creative plan… were stifled and shut off… And it didn’t take long for the stench of decay to dominate mankind’s heart.
In a word: “The Compartmentalization Corruption” began in the heart; and Adam and Eve began to live “The Tidy Life”!
The once-unspeakably-beautiful heart, now a ruined, trashed ecosystem, made God weep. Me too at the history and sight of my own heart… How about you?
God Made the Heart: like a gregarious of larks; a Kingdom tumult of unfettered joy; a riotousness of righteousness; the Spirit uncaged, fit and free as an eagle on the wind; wholly-devoted, wholly-liberated, wholly a sub-set of God Himself… Who thought as the Father, spoke as the Son, and fluttered as the Spirit… and the known and unknown universe came into existence FROM NOTHING!
How grand do you consider God’s design and purpose of the heart to be?
Sin Spoiled the Heart: the “Tidy Heart”, as I’ve alluded to above, is the compartmentalized heart that serves the far, far [repeat that 10,000 x’s] lesser god of CONTROL. And the only way we can [supposedly] control God—in favor of being in control ourselves—is to try and contain God via the containment of the heart He created, desires—purely out of love and not neediness—to control, and most mercifully sustains.
There are tens-to-hundreds of little rooms, varying in size and use, within our heart that are manifestations of our inherited Sin and habitual sinning desire to hide from God; to lock-in shame and lock-out God in various parts of our stories and lives; to crack the door and dole out little peace-offerings and sadly insufficient sacrifices of ourselves to God… All, all, all in place in order to live The Tidy Life. And it’s so sad it’s impossible to describe.
Please consider, and speak to yourself right now, “What is it like for me to live The Tidy Life? What is it like for me to try and put every jot and tittle of life under my control so that you can take the place of God? Does it make me sad or fearful enough to consider what’s missing from my life—while living The Tidy Life—so that I might reach out to God and one of His disciples to admit that being God is just too dammed much [hellishly so…] for me to handle? At, literally, the end of the day, do I want my epitaph on my gravestone to read, “Here lies John: The Tidy & Tiny Life”?
The thought of that breaks my heart… which is a very good start.
An Important Caveat
If a fallen Image Bearer of God [all human beings since Adam] has not repented and been born again in Christ (E.g., getting a new heart, Ezekiel 11:19; John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 5:1) then all of the above will fall on deaf, denial, angry, and guilty ears. And any “unleashed desire to bust out of living The Tidy Life” will be manifest by adding lots of works, lists, to-do’s, amendments, resolutions, and man-based solutions that will not… cannot… last or bring joy, devotion, and witness. We must start the rehab of the heart by being born again.
The sort of “DE-compartmentalization” we’re here to feast on is how [even] born-again hearts STILL have the bent for living The Tidy [hence the Tiny] Life!
We’ll see how to stir things up, break down the walls, in the born-again, yet compartmentalized, heart below.
Second Things First: Remember Tidy Leads to Tiny!
“Tidy & Tiny”, “Tiny & Tidy” are nearly indistinguishable and interchangeable, right? Which comes first? Or does it even matter? Well, turns out, it does: As stated above, all of the heart corruption began with The Fall (Genesis 3) when The Tidy [God-jettisoned / man-controlled] Life began. THEN, once we’re committed to keeping things tidy, under control, compartmentalized, and acting god-like, living The TINY Life is really, actually, axiomatically… all that’s left to live.
TIDY… Begets, Spawns, Engenders… TINY.
Not that it’s a perfect apple-to-apple comparison, but I wonder if the massively heart-wrenching decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was compromised by dropping a handful of BB’s over the cities instead… what difference would it have made? Even by means of conservative estimates, millions of lives were spared by having various theaters of war in WWII ended by the heart-shattering decision President Truman was forced to make.
By analogy, when any Spirit-regenerated, indwelt, empowered, refined, and led HEART is compromised, compartmentalized by choosing TIDY over a UNIVERSE-SIZED OPEN and GRAND HEART… It’s akin to subverting, containing the DYNAMITE of the SPIRIT (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Ergo, shooting BB’s in the midst of spiritual warfare that makes WWII look like a skirmish between two-year-old’s… where dynamite is offered, required, and worthy of The Trinity Who put the plan in place!
Beloved of God, when we choose Tidy, and get The Tiny Life in Christ in return, we are making a choice to live a life of containing, controlling, and missing all the LIFE God desires for us IN CHRIST. As a Christian, living as controlled and comfy as possible, The Tiny Life puts barriers, boundaries, controls on the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. And this is not just a tragedy for each and every “Tidy-Tidy Heart”, it’s a heartbreak for this fast decaying and darkened world that is not benefiting from the release of the power that each and every disciple of Christ is called to be God’s light [to bring God’s True Truth] and salt [to heal and stem the decay].
Let’s Knock Down Some Tidy Walls of the Heart… and Get Gigantic!
Here are seven things we can turn our FULL, UNFETTERED, and UNTIDY ATTENTION TO in order to take w wrecking ball to all the tidiness and sinful control we’ve created within our hearts… which is killing us spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically:
- Bow before and learn how to read, study, mediate on, and apply the Bible.
- Dive into the theology and practice of powerful and effective prayer.
- Blast open new spaces and ways to reimagine, renew, and revitalize worship.
- Reconstrue what other human beings are as Image Bearers of God to better serve.
- Level any, all barriers of selfishness, fear, and a scarcity mentality to be the best stewards.
- Radically reconsider why and how God desires we treat suffering of any kind.
- Bust out all barriers about what it means to be a vital part of Christian community.
Please do an assessment on these characteristics of the growing, knowing, and sowing Christian.
God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving—that THANKSGIVING might be the nature of your heart 24/7/365!