For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks
I went to sleep last night with such a disquiet in my spirit and when I woke this morning the heaviness on my heart just continued to grow. I am sure many of you reading this feel similarly, I live in London, and have a close friend who lives on the doorstep of the attacks that occurred here last night (he is thankfully safe and well) and so these events are particularly upsetting for me on a personal note. However, across the world just this weekend alone, 37 fellow brothers and sisters died in a human-led disaster wrought on a casino in Manila, reportedly due to debt and addiction, Al Jazeera is reporting that civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq by US-led coalition attacks are horrifically higher than official numbers have suggested (not forgetting that each of these ‘numbers’ is a life with a story and interwoven with so many others’), these three cases are deeply depressing and disheartening and yet they still barely scratch the surface of human suffering caused by other humans in this very moment.
As my phone lit up and buzzed last night with messages from some of my closest girlfriends speaking of fear, deep sadness and empathy for the situation happening in our city and I woke this morning feeling anxiety about even leaving my house and going to church in central London, something I do every week, I realised I had to arrest my thinking: “We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 Amplified). Take your thoughts captive.
I was talking to one of my best friends en route to church (via voice note lol that’s kind of our thing) and she was essentially asking me how I can believe and trust in a God that seems to protect some but not others (the victims of the attack). I am not saying I have all the answers at all and this is not about to turn into a preach or some apologetics argument, but I basically said to her that we as humans need to recognise our own agency and capacity for perpetrating love and evil towards and against each other. As a church we always pray for global events, over global leaders and of course on such a sombre morning over our own city where some of the congregation had friends in hospital who were injured last night. On a personal level, I have been praying fervently for a while now for interception in the hearts of the perpetrators, in no way diminishing prayer for the victims and their families, but the real solution we need is prevention, not cure. We do not live in a vacuum, who is to say what motivates people to commit such horrific acts against fellow humans who they do not know? Who have been dehumanised to a target in their minds and become happy to sacrifice their own lives for what is perceived to be a higher cause? I have seen with my own eyes systemic racism rob young people of hope for a better future in a society where they are already underprivileged in one of the cities I have lived in, I am not saying this justifies actions, but I am saying we need to look at and address the root cause of what incites us to act in every single area of our lives.
Wherever there is a void or a lack, as humans we will fill it with something. This works on a primal level with lust to a deeper spiritual level, there is a desire for ‘something more’ inherent in our design. This is why I pray and will continue to for the heart of those who are contemplating or in the midst of planning acts of terror against their fellow generation to turn (I say generation here in the sense of everyone alive right now, breathing in and out the same atmosphere on this planet, all 7 billion of us). As I was worshipping this morning, singing with my fellow lovers of God and humanity louder and more joyfully than we even do usually (which was so beautiful to witness) I was asking God for words, words directly from His Spirit to mine. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” is what I heard. I looked it up (thank you Google) and there I have lighting up my screen Jesus, the man himself (for this purpose any personal beliefs about who he is are not relevant) and he is PREACHING (said with hair flick) as only he could. He’s a funny guy, the things he said were equally profound and perplexing, sometimes he would explain them in more depth and other times leave us to still be pondering them some 2000 years later. He is there, in front of “a large crowd” of men and women, from all over, and one of the many things he said essentially translates to that phrase we love to toss about in our everyday [speak from the heart, write from the heart, say what’s on your heart]: A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45). In other translations from the Hebrew it reads: For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So I’m taking this space to speak life into being, “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates” (Hebrews 4:12).
Whatever we are full of and allow to speak into our minds and hearts, whether it be your Twitter feed, your closest friend, your Instagram audience or even the most well-meaning relative, will be the place which we operate from, react and act from. As I write this new terror plots are being hatched (not to be dramatic but just to be real), bombs are being built, atrocities are taking place and hatred is sinking deeper in the hearts of some. All I know to be true and stand upon is that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18) and that not one of us is called to act from a spirit of fear or timidity but that in actuality we have the choice to harness the real Spirit of power, love and self-control (or sound mind) that we have been given (2 Timothy 1:7). None of us know when our earthly lives, or those we love, will come to an end, but we all know that our days are numbered. It makes me so sad, it literally has made me weep to read of and see unfold the theft of life, attempts to spread fear, violence and heartbreak that we inflict upon each other. We cannot let fear cast out love in the face of such brutality. I don’t understand much to be honest, I think the older one gets the more you realise you really don’t know much about life you know (the real essence of it), but I do know that there is nothing new under the sun and that evil and human atrocity ain’t a new phenomenon. I grew up with my mum telling me stories that her mum had told her, about Chinese women and their unborn babies being killed, stomachs, uteruses and unborn children ripped out in the name of war, land and earthly “power”. My mum arrived in this country in the midst of fleeing from the terror that was perpetuating her home at the time. However, as darkness creeps closer in our neighbourhoods it is integral that we guard our hearts and incite those in our community to guard theirs.
Maybe these are just words to you, but hey, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, so here are my thoughts, broken and poured out as a living sacrifice, or as David once said: “My heart is stirred by a noble theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer (Psalm 45:1). I felt compelled to share a few things that had been impressed upon my spirit. Let’s not only care and remain vigilant, offering practical and spiritual assurance when it is on our doorstep, let’s pray without ceasing, intercepting where we can, and damn it, let’s be better human beings to one another in the little and large, full stop.
Let’s love harder, hold faith above the storm and: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life”, everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).
Another key Proverb to remember and allow to take root: Words kill, words give life; they’re poison or fruit–you choose (18:21).
All in love, always.