I recently had a very inspiring conversation with a brave and courageous brother in Christ who is on the journey to “recapture his heart.” I say brave because most of us do not want to go into our hearts. In a new book about the teaching of Henri Nouwen (“Spiritual Formation), he makes this very clear. “”People who dare to look inward are faced with a new and often dramatic challenge: they must come to terms with the inner mysterium tremendum – the overwhelming nature of the inner life…….The first and most basic task of the one who takes the inward journey of the heart is to clarify the immense confusion that can arise when people enter into this new internal world.” This just is a task of the spiritual life that men do not want to be engaged in.
But I assume any man reading this blog knows of the need to go from his head into his heart. In my conversation with my brave brother, we were talking about his recent experience of meeting Jesus in some painful images of his heart. I was truly rejoicing with him, as the light of Jesus and his presence brought healing, relief and peace to his soul. As we talked, the Lord gave me the image of a storm system. When a severe storm is coming it is very dark and threatening. But many times we have to go through the storm. Once we are through the storm, there is peace and calm on the other side. Then the Lord gave me this insight, which I have found to be very true in my experience.
At first it is hard to enter the dark and frightening storm. This is the willingness to face the pain, hurt and confusion of our hearts. We can’t avoid the storm if we are to be healed and find peace in our souls. But Jesus has always been there in the storm. I was reminded of Jesus walking on the water in Mark 6:45-52. The disciples are terrified, thinking Jesus is a ghost. Likewise, we are terrified of our inner life. The Lord is not wanting us to dig up a lot of garbage to create our own storm. He know what we need to deal with. He is waiting for us in the storm. His word to us is that of verse 50, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage! I am here.” What an encouraging word for our storm tossed souls. He is there in the midst of the storm. But there is a warning in the last verse (v 52). “Their hearts were too hard to take it in.”
This last verse speaks, in my opinion, to the condition of a lots of us men. Our hearts have not been trained and conditioned to deal with the storms. What this means is that we need to become familiar to what is there, that is, what the Lord wants us to be aware of. This will take practice. It is going into unfamiliar territory. But Jesus is there in the storm, with all the grace, mercy and love that we need to go through the storm. As we learn to go through the big dark storms, there will be lesser storms the rest of our life. But we will be able to deal with them with much grace, because we have faced the big storms that have brought ruin to our inner life.