Yesterday I preached a completely different message at church than I had planned. As I prayed on Saturday night, I knew very clearly wanted that he wanted me to change my plans. I preached from Psalm 84.
Since yesterday, however, verse 5 has been lodged in my mind like song I can't stop singing. There the psalmist speaks about the blessing and strength that come when we've got highways to God paved in our hearts. According to the writer, all kinds of benefits follow: strength, endurance in suffering, flourishing, etc. What the psalmist assumes, however, I think needs some explaining. How in the world do you lay a road in your soul from your heart to God's house? What does that even mean? Here are my highly un-edited thoughts:
Survey Before a road is built, a crew of trained surveyors and planners must work hard to plan the route. Similarly, if we're going to build a highway in our hearts to Heaven's gates, we've got to know how. It is surely a trail through the foothills of prayer and repentance, across the mountains of Bible study. It's path curves through the deserts of fasting and the forests of worship. All of this road's ways must first be known before they can be travelled.
Clear the Road Next, the ground must be prepared and the land must be cleared. Rocks must be moved, trees cut down, and even mountains blown out of the way. Similarly, we've probably got some things that need to be cleared out of the way so we can construct this highway in our hearts. Schedules will need to change, priorities shifted. Time must be given to prayer. Money must be spent on a great Bible. Effort must be invested in study.
Pave Paving a road is a slow process. We've all seen it — driving along, we see dozens of workers and huge pieces of equipment devoted for months at a time to preparing just small portions of a highway. Similarly, paving the highway of the heart may take some time. Prayer is a discipline that takes time to learn. Reading the Bible is a process that requires effort. Learning to hear God — to listen to his Spirit speak — means doing some listening. Staring may seem daunting, but as you do you're building the road you'll travel to connect to God almighty.
Travel Once you've paved this road, you can now travel! This highway in the heart — the path for the Christian to connect with God — is a road meant to be travelled on. Rise early in the morning and commute toward communion with God.
Maintain One more thing ... roads must be maintained. Just as overgrowth must be trimmed and potholes must be filled on any road, so too must the highways of the heart be maintained. Distraction can grow like weeds and hurts of the heart threaten to break the pavement. This road must be traveled and inspected in order to be maintained.
I don't know about you, but I've got work to do on the highway of my heart.