Have you noticed that all too often, people ignore the classics? They say, “I don’t understand it.” “They talked weird back then.” “I spend so much time and energy trying to ‘translate’ it, I don’t have anything left to get anything from the writing.” “It’s like a foreign language.”
Well, I don’t mind translating/paraphrasing vintage writing. In fact, I enjoy it! Almost as much as I enjoy sharing classic written thought with other people.
So, I’ve decided I’m going to “translate” some classic, inspirational/uplifting writings. The parameters are: I want inspirational/devotional writings—fiction or non-fiction, with a publication or copyright date of 1918 or earlier—a hundred years or older. I think you’ll find them proving themselves to be relevant, because the human heart is still the human heart.
I’m going to start with a little book called “Heart-Life”, which I inherited from my grandma. She was born in the opening years of the 20th century. Before it was hers, the book was owned by a Rev. Warren of Angelica, New York. It was written by Rev. Theodore L. Cuyler, pastor of the Lafayette Ave. Church in Brooklyn, and copyrighted in 1871. He was a confidant of Abraham Lincoln.
Here is the first piece, titled Heart-Keeping:
“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” As good housekeeping is essential to a comfortable home, so good heartkeeping is essential to a healthy and happy life of faith.
The Bible describes the human heart as a dwelling. The unredeemed heart is a home for sinful thoughts, preferences, and actions, nurtured there by the Enemy. When we first invite Christ to move in, He finds it horribly filthy and in need of major repairs. The first work of the Holy Spirit is to cleanse the house. He enters every room, ready and able to make it clean.
First is the luxurious living room, where pride was welcomed and entertained. Jesus enters, modeling humility, and evicts the formerly welcomed guest. Next, He enters the bedroom of the thought life and takes down the numerous sinful images on its walls. Then, using the key of truth, He unlocks the empty, cobwebby closet of conscience and flings its door open to the fresh air and sunlight of confession and repentance.
He enters the office of memory, which He restores and renovates for His use. Going through the files which record the reports of the five senses, He finds that many of them are only fit to be scrap paper. He does not delete all the files, but purges them, then repurposes the room.
With His renovations, it is not an unused space or a confused junk room. Instead, it is an office. Not only are important files are kept there, but also a cabinet which is used to display the numerous gifts given by the Father. This is the room where the believer and the Savior often meet to talk, and a diffuser of thankfulness emits a fragrant blend of praise, worship, and gratitude.
There is a tower where watchfulness keeps a lookout for any approach of the Enemy. What a disaster there would be, if watchfulness were to fall asleep at its post! Faith frequently visits the tower as well, using the telescope of promise to catch glimpses of the Celestial City in the distance, at the far end of the road.
At the center of the house is a little safe-room, like a closet, with just enough space for two. It is a secret room, so well hidden that, although others may have heard of its existence, only the believer and the Savior know its exact location. What looks like graffiti covers its walls—requests, reminders, messages of love—exchanged between Jesus and the believer. Above a small altar are three words, written in large letters: ASK, SEEK, KNOCK. The safe-room is also where the armor is kept—the armor which the believer needs every day for the battle.
Lack of use of the safe-room can foreshadow danger and death coming to the house. If the room is left unused, the door allowed to rust shut, the armor hanging dust-covered, on the wall. This opens the door to the Enemy and his followers, and offers them the opportunity to recapture the home and move back in.
Guarding and caring for the heart with faithfulness and commitment should be the highest priority of everyone who has been adopted into God’s family. For followers of Christ, there is a two-part secret to spiritual growth and a home in heaven. The secret lies in knowing how to keep Jesus feeling at home in our inner hearts, and how to glorify Him in our outer lives.