The human heart often seems to hide in a cloud of ambiguity. Jeremiah 17:9 famously declares that the heart “is deceitful above all things and desperate sick.” It appears to be beyond human comprehension, and yet Christians must still try to understand it. Proverbs 4:23 reminds believers to
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
The heart determines the destination of your soul. As your heart goes, you go.
The complexities of the heart can only be untangled with divine help. One of those divine helps are our bedtime thoughts. The Psalmist reports that the sinner “plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil (Ps 36:4).” Those with sick hearts spend their night dreaming of revenge, theft, and murder (Ps 104:21-22). The have to toss and turn all night because they do not trust the ruler of heaven and earth. The Reformer and pastor, John Calvin, noted,
So long as we fail to acknowledge the One who sustains us, we will always fear that the earth will fail us.
On the other hand, those who trust the Lord smile for joy as they break into their REM sleep cycle for they know that God loves them and has redeemed them (Ps. 149:1-6). Instead of trying to root out all the ‘inadequacies,” in their life through cunning schemes, they entrust themselves to loving, kind, and merciful hands of God’s providence. As the eyes the faithful close for the night, the enter “into peace; they rest in their beds (Is 57:2).” Nighttime thoughts reveal the health of the Christian’s soul. The healthy soul sleeps in peace.
Night time thoughts not only reveal the heart, they also predict the future. The dreams of yesterday inform the actions of today (Micah 2:1). The mind that spends the night plotting revenge against an old boyfriend, a disagreeable boss, or an unkind church member will produce slanderous phone calls, Facebook rants, and slashed tires. Conversely, the heart that spends the night reflecting on the salvation of the Lord gives birth to charitable donations, notes of encouragement, and focused work. The meditations of the night turn the believers life either to harm or good.
The ancient world understood this reality. The night watchmen of old used to cite Scriptures and prayers when crying the time. One old northern England chant proclaimed:
Ho, watchman, ho!
Twelve is the clock!
God keep our town
From fire and brand
And hostile hand,
Twelve is the clock!”
When Christians stop trusting the Lord, evil enters in. Even in the middle of the night, the believers should keep their hearts with vigilance, remembering the God who saved them.
To determine state if their heart, Christians do not have to run a million experiments. They need to examine this divine control group, their bedtime thoughts.
Thoughts filled with bitterness, anger, and vengeance reveal a fallen and desperately sick and in need of repentance. Pillow thoughts of brotherly love, salvific praise, and godly contentment reveal a heart resting in the arms of the Lord.
How is your heart? What will you be thinking about tonight?