I had read a number of Cynthia Heald‘s Bible studies in my early married days, but I couldn’t remember much about them. So when I came across Drawing Near to the Heart of God: Encouragement for Your Lifetime Journey (previously published as A Woman’s Journey to the Heart of God), I gave it a try not just for the content, but also to reacquaint myself with Heald’s writing.
Heald frames the Christian life as a journey. The first section covers “Essentials for the Journey,” like “Traveling Light” (things to set aside), “Righteous Clothing” (holiness), “The Guidebook” (the Bible), “Fellowship With Our Guide” (abiding in Christ), and others. Section Two focuses on “The Destination: God’s Heart” and spends time on some of His attributes. The last section. “Enjoying the Journey,” covers “Bearing His Fruit,” “Experiencing His Rest,” “Living for the Eternal,” and “Bringing God Glory.”
Heald writes in an easily understood style. She particularly handles Biblical stories well, drawing the reader right in to what the character was probably feeling without a lot of extra-biblical conjecture.
A few of the many quotes that stood out to me:
My journey to the heart of God does not begin tomorrow; the choices I make today determine whether I move towards Him or toward self and the world (p. 20).
[Re the Israelites failure to obey God and go into the promised land the first time] The people decided to focus on the potential risks instead of the promised blessings (p. 47).
My definition of abiding is “consistently sitting at the feet of Jesus and continually depending upon Him by listening to His words with a heart to obey” (p. 68).
When you fear God, you will be freed to listen to His “fear nots” (p. 87).
We cannot expect to make steady progress on our spiritual journey if we insist on taking little side trips away from the highway of holiness (p. 110).
Since we can do nothing to captivate [God’s] love, we can do nothing to lose it (p.136).
God has His time schedule, and He uses what we call delays to produce in us patience and trust and to accomplish His purposes in establishing His kingdom (p. 234).
To understand the difference between living for heaven and demanding that life here on earth be like heaven is an important lesson in learning to live for the eternal (p. 241).
I disagreed with her in a few spots, like when she said the Bible is “one of the best ways to hear God speak” (p. 244). It’s not just one of the best – it is the primary way we hear from God, some would say the only way. She speaks of “hearing God’s voice” in a couple of places, but I don’t think she means it in terms of an audible voice or extra-biblical revelation. This would have concerned me more if she had written anything doctrinally questionable. I also wouldn’t endorse everyone she quotes.
But for the most part, this is a fairly solid explanation of how to grow in the Christian life. Even though I was already familiar with these truths, it was good to go over them again.