In this abiding series, each post will be framed as an email correspondence to a friend who is seeking to get ‘more’ out of his or her faith. My hope is that by exploring this topic as a conversation, you will resonate with the message as deeply as if it were a letter addressed to you.
To: Friend Seeking More from Faith
From: Doug Nuenke
Subject: The Heartbeat of Jesus
My good friend,
Your recent email really challenged me. This line really stuck with me:
“So many Christians operate out of their heads instead of their hearts.”
I must admit, I like ideas and can sometimes live in my head. Your comment made me wonder to what degree I live out my Christian life from my head but miss an inward soul connection with God.
To your point, some people treat the Christian life as if it’s an academic course. They approach it as a pursuit of understanding rather than a developing relationship. Although our brains are created to know and worship God, knowledge of God isn’t necessarily the same as intimacy with Him. Last Sunday, our pastor said, “In the spiritual life, it’s not enough to think about or understand the truth, it involves yielding our hearts to know Him personally.”
Abiding in Christ is where our knowledge of God intersects with our personal experience of Him. We bring our heads, hearts, and emotions—our whole selves—to commune with the one who made us.
As you were talking about a heart-connection with God, I was reminded of a memory from my childhood. I was a very young boy, and my dad was an Army Captain and we were living outside of Washington, D.C. It was a cold winter day and the heating unit was having a hard time keeping up with the draft that slipped into the house. Our TV was on and I sat next to my dad watching an old black-and-white World War II movie. It was cozy sitting next to him. Then, during a commercial he pulled me up on his chest and I laid there for a couple minutes, my head on his chest, close to his heart. As I recalled that memory, I could almost feel the warmth of his arms around me and hear his steady heartbeat.
Those moments feeling my dad’s embrace heart reminds me of what it’s like to have our home in Jesus. When we are connected heart-to-heart with Jesus, it’s as if we are lying in the warm embrace of our heavenly Father, hearing His heartbeat, and enjoying joy and peace in His Presence.
Isaiah described the embrace of God this way:
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
The goal of the Christian life is not to be purely heart-based or head-based, but to use both as pathways to know and worship Him. Abiding with Christ is remaining close to Him, joining Him in prayer or reflecting on His Word. But as you say, abiding is more than acquiring head-knowledge. It is leaning in to hear his heartbeat, knowing we are safe, loved and home.