An Inward Gaze of the Heart cover

An Inward Gaze of the Heart

Have you ever been stuck in a thought process you couldn’t get out of? Perhaps you were experiencing fear or anxiety and your mind is fixated on something negative that’s leading you more and more into an emotional breakdown.

Have you ever woken up from a dream that was so intense it felt like you were actually there? Your body felt all the emotions, your nervous system got activated, and it felt thrilling or scary or adventurous.

In both cases, being stuck in your thinking and in the dreaming, there is something fascinating and mysterious that is happening. You were taken into this inward gaze where you were experiencing a greater reality within you than the one outside of you.

A.W. Towzer, The Pursuit of God"Now, if faith is the gaze of the heart at God, and if this gaze is but the raising of the inward eyes to meet the all-seeing eyes of God, then it follows that it is one of the easiest things possible to do. It would be like God to make the most vital thing easy and place it within the range of possibility for the weakest and poorest of us."

One of my favorite books is called The Pursuit of God by A.W. Towzer. Towzer was a thinker but he also had a profound revelation about the Lord in the way he experienced Him that was so tangible. You can read it in his writing.

In the book, he describes faith as this inward gaze of the heart towards God. Now why is this important?

We Become That Which We Behold

First let's define faith. In Hebrews 11, the author defines faith as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen."

Faith (and fear) begins in the unseen. The unseen is another word for the spiritual realm. And the spiritual often manifests itself first through our imagination. Our imagination is powerful, because what we focus on magnifies. Once that focus is big enough, it has the capacity to fill our hearts. Our imagination then gives us an expectation that what we see will become a reality in our external world. Our emotions and behaviors begin to change to follow that hope – the substance of things hoped for.

If what we see in our imagination has this outward effect on our body, emotions, and how we feel, think, and behave, what if we change the inward gaze of our heart? One from fear to faith.

John said that when we see Jesus, we shall become like him. Paul also said, "we behold him as in a mirror."

From their perspective, Jesus is the mirror of our being. He is our substance and essence. He is the object of our faith. So to see Him is to become like Him. But we're not like Him just yet. Because if we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, then there's an invitation here.

We want to become like Christ to represent God in all of his fullness, bringing the reality of an unshakeable Kingdom in our family, community, and city. We want to become like Christ so that we can partner with God to destroy the works of the enemy and to dispel the works of darkness in our spheres of influence. We want to be FULLY alive in Jesus so that worry, fear, anxiety, shame, insecurity, and stress no longer has power over us. That doesn't mean stressful situations aren't going to come or affect us, but it just means they won't grip us anymore.

When we experience situations that cause worry, fear, anxiety, shame, insecurity, and stress, those emotional responses tell us more about what's happening inside us than what is outside of us. Just like when we dream, and we experience a nightmare that causes us to react. The emotion began inside of us long before there was ever anything real on the outside. What happened within us was just as real as if it was happening outside of us.

Emotions are indicators and it's okay to go there once in a while, but we aren't supposed to live there. Living in a survival state of being is less than ideal when we are following the One who can calm the wind and waves.

So That Christ May Dwell in Your Heart

Remember the story where Jesus and his disciples were traveling by boat? A storm came, but where do we find Jesus? He was deep in sleep. And somehow, the storm didn't wake Him up. And when the disciples fearing for their life finally woke Him up, there was no sense of fear in Him whatsoever. What's even crazy is that Jesus tells the disciples, "you of little faith," and rebukes them for fearing the wind and waves.

Fear for your life is a natural reaction when you're on a boat and a hurricane comes. Any normal person would.

But if you're Jesus, and you're His disciple, to fear the wind and waves when you're with someone who has the power over the wind and waves, you know that the reality of who He has not been internalized in the disciples. No wonder they were fearful.

They've seen Him multiply food and heal the sick, yet when a storm came, they still feared.

Fear came because they didn't know how to live differently. Some of the disciples were fishermen. So we know this wasn't the first time they've encountered a storm. They know the devastation a storm can bring. But now their Rabbi, their teacher, their master, is showing them that they can live above their survival emotions. Because when you're with someone who can stop the wind and waves, and he calls you to be like Him, the wind and waves don't have the authority to dictate your internal state of being. Your survival emotions don't have to rule over you.

We found Jesus asleep in the middle of the story. It's as if He was in a greater reality within His dream than the one outside Him. His internal state wasn't dictated by the storm outside of Him.

There's this great verse by Paul in Ephesians: "Be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts." Before these verses, Paul acknowledged we've been given every spiritual blessing, raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly places.

We have access to these spiritual realities, right? We've been raised, seated, and given everything we need, yet we still need to be strengthened through His Spirit – in our inner being – so that Christ may dwell in our hearts.

What that tells me is that we have some growing up to do. If we want to manifest the reality of Christ through our life, it will not come from one prayer, encounter, or worship service.

It will take some growth and practice. I believe Jesus rebuked His disciples not because he expected them to stop the storm. He rebuked them because the reality of who they have come to be in following Him has not fully manifested in their life.

Essentially “you of little faith” is a call to a live higher.

“You of little faith”
It is an invitation because there is a higher realm that we get to live from.

“You of little faith.”
It is a rebuke to take us out from our survival state of being to a righteous state of being.

“You of little faith”
Because even faith as small as a mustard seed has the potential to move mountains.

“You of little faith”
It is a word of Life from the Spirit that strengthens us in our inner being so that Christ can dwell in our hearts.

So that we can look like our Rabbi, our Master, Our Teacher, Our Lord.

In Summary

1. Our focus will determine our reality. You become what you behold.

2. Just like dreaming can have a physiological reaction to our bodies, faith works the same way. It starts within us, and it works outside of us. And if we focus on what the Spirit is doing, we will be strengthened in our inner being.

3. Our survival emotions don't have to rule over us, we've been raised and seated with Christ and given every spiritual blessing, so there's a greater reality available to live from.

4. But if we aren't experiencing that reality yet, remember that Jesus' rebuke, cherish and recognize it as a call to live higher, that you are still growing, you are still maturing, that you are still in process.

5. Faith has the capacity to create a greater reality inside of us than what is happening outside of us, but it has to start somewhere. So celebrate the little "you of so little faith" moments because that's when you know you're on the right road to building an unshakeable Kingdom with you.

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