Straight from a Beating Heart
By Lisa Elliott
“Meaningless! Meaningless! … Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
How’s that for an introduction? Makes you just want to jump right into some good reading doesn’t it? But wait a minute, maybe it does? Perhaps, as you read these introductory words penned by Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, you find your heart resonating with his sad but often true assessment.
If we’re honest with ourselves, each one of us goes through seasons of life where we can completely identify with the meaninglessness that Solomon writes about. Times when we ask, “What’s the point?” “Is that all there is?” You know the times I’m talking about. Times when what we’re striving to accomplish or attain to seems for naught; even as we serve the Lord. Rather than giving us the satisfaction we so desperately long for we feel defeated, disappointed, and depressed.
This time of year the weather can have as much to do with our sense of despondency as anything. We can’t get outside as often as we’d like to. Winter flu bugs limit us. Lack of sunshine depletes our source of vitamin D. Instead of getting out and doing something, our defeated selves remain indoors and watch the perfect lives of others flutter by on Facebook. If that describes you, I understand. And perhaps like me, on this dismal winter’s day, you need to be reminded of what makes you feel alive. Below are some questions I’ve asked myself from time to time. My hope is that as you ask yourself these same questions it will get your heart beating again.
What work do you love to do?
Years ago my husband bought me a small plaque that said, “Let what you love be what you do.” It’s now displayed in a place of prominence in my home office—as a heart-monitor, so to speak. What kind of work makes your heart beat? For me, I’m thankful my work comes in the form of exactly what I love to do; speaking hope, truth, and life into hearts—straight from the heart. It may not be your occupation but it could be a hobby, ministry or some other means of enjoyment and fulfillment. Whatever it is, make sure to set aside time in your week to do what you love. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3: 23-24, NIV).
What leisure activities bring me joy?
Sometimes in our state of meaninglessness we lose sight of the things that once made us happy. Opportunity then becomes obligation. We begin to take life too seriously and lose our carefree sense of “fun-ness”. We need to remember that God, after all, created us for His own good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). So, go ahead! Watch a comedy. Play a game. Have a long bath or extra-long shower. Find a good book and curl up with it in a comfortable chair with a hot drink. Call an old friend. Call a new one! Create a new recipe. Invite someone into your home. Tap into your creative side. Give yourself permission to have fun in what you do!
What kinds of people energize me?
In a society that is prone to make withdrawals it’s important to surround ourselves with people who will make investments in our lives, especially if you’re in a care-giving role. In order to keep our blood flowing, we need input as much as output. There’s a reason why there are so many “one another’s” listed in God’s Word. We need people who will encourage us (Hebrews 10:24-25), pray for us (James 5:16), and offer mutual love and affection (Romans 12:10). As an aside, if you haven’t hung out with a new believer lately, try that out for cardiac care. There’s nothing that gets my heart beating more than new believers! They’re exciting! They’re inquisitive. They challenge me to think beyond the obvious. They offer a fresh dose of excitement when I feel I’m losing my spiritual zeal (Romans 12:11).
What charges my emotional, mental, and spiritual battery?
Perhaps it’s solitude. If so, make sure you set aside regular time for yourself to recharge. If you’re energized by being with people, make sure you incorporate social times in your weekly schedule. Recognize the difference between an adrenalin boost and genuine inner strengthening. Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, make sure you include some time daily with the Lord and in His Word. It’s the oxygen in our blood cells. He provides us with all the nutrients we need to keep our hearts healthy. “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart" (Psalm 19:8, NIV).
What are my strengths and weaknesses?
Often when we’re feeling down our tendency is to compare our weaknesses with others’s strengths. Bad move! God hasn’t given us gifts to compete with but to complete with. He’s given you weaknesses so that you depend upon Him and appreciate the strengths and gifts of others. Conversely, He has blessed you with strength to use for His glory as you come alongside others to help in their areas of weakness. We, as individual parts, are the body of Christ! (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). If you don’t know what your strengths are ask someone who knows you well. After all, there’s nothing like exercising your spiritual gifts in the body of Christ for some good cardio.
When do I feel fulfilled?
You were made to please God in a way that is unique for you. Eric Liddel, the Olympian runner said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” What is that for you? When do you feel God’s pleasure? Is it an instrument you play? Is it visiting a seniors’ residence or working with children? Typically the things that make you feel most alive are the things you’re gifted at. It’s a part of your personalized DNA by God’s design. Once you find your niche, you’ll experience the freedom that goes with being all God created you to be.
King Solomon had been-there-done-that in every aspect of life; work, education, leisure, relationships, wealth, pleasure and success. And in the end, his final conclusion was that there is absolutely nothing that can fully satisfy us here on earth—apart from God. He gives us true meaning and purpose. He is the source of life (John 1:4). In fact, He is our life (Deuteronomy 30:20; Colossians 3:4)! Let His life flow through you. And before you know it, your heart will be beating again.
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org