Bring Your Heart Back to Jehovah
Were you reared by parents who are Jehovah’s Witnesses? Now, however, are you less active in the way of the truth than you once were? If so, the following information should be of special interest to you.
MANY conflicting emotions surge through a young person’s heart. For instance, you may want more independence. You are exposed to life-styles that appear exciting but that may clash with what you were taught. At times the ideals learned in childhood are neglected. Perhaps this has happened to you, even if your parents are servants of Jehovah God.
Here and there, young persons drift away from the Christian congregation. If that has happened to you, no doubt you recall some of the things you learned about Jehovah. At one time you may have felt close to God and regularly prayed to him. Undoubtedly, Jehovah cared for you just as he did for his ancient people, the Israelites. Comparing the nation to a small child, Jehovah said: “I taught Ephraim [that is, the Israelites] to walk, taking them upon my arms . . . With the ropes of earthling man I kept drawing them, with the cords of love.”—Hosea 11:3, 4.
How touching! A tiny wobbly child being helped to walk with leading cords held by a loving parent! By holding on to these, the little one could find support and avoid a fall. Now, was not Jehovah’s concern for you just as tender? Surely his love was evident in the attention you received either from your godly parents or from others at the Kingdom Hall. Could not such care be likened to your being led by “cords of love”? Obviously, your parents and the congregational elders desired to help you to avoid hurting yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually. They wanted you to stay in the way of the truth.—Compare 3 John 2-4.
Now all of that may seem to be but a memory. Looking back, you may think of several reasons why you drifted from the way of the truth.
A Wandering Heart
Why did so many of the ancient Israelites drift away from true worship? Because “their heart was not steadfast” with Jehovah. (Psalm 78:37) Other affections can crowd out love for God. According to Jesus Christ, the anxieties of this world, the power of riches and the “pleasures of this life” can choke the word of God once planted in the heart.—Luke 8:14; Mark 4:19.
The “pleasures of this life” are made very appealing by schoolmates, as well as by the advertising and entertainment media. For example, one young person, whose parents had taught her God’s Word from infancy, drifted from the way of the truth when she became nineteen. “I wanted to taste what life was all about and do some of the things other young persons had made seem so enjoyable,” she admitted. “So I moved to my own apartment and began dating and going to many parties just for the excitement. I soon stopped attending congregation meetings. It was not long before I forsook the morals of the Bible.”
Of course, not all who drift away from the truth become involved in wrongdoing. Some just become disinterested in worshiping Jehovah. They may never have made the truth their own. Perhaps a bad parental example or neglect contributed to their not taking the truth seriously. Now such things as family problems, making a living, or a strong desire to succeed in a personal career may fill their heart.
But can you really be happy if you pay relatively little attention to your Maker? Will following the desires of your heart lead to genuine happiness?
The Heart—“Nothing Else So Deceitful”
“The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Yes, your heart is capable of misleading you—to your own injury. This happened to the young woman mentioned earlier. She confessed: “At first when I was doing whatever I wanted to, it was fun. But then after a while, though I still had all the excitement, I didn’t seem to have any inner joy. Something seemed to be missing. The happiness was only artificial. I became miserable.”
Many who have drifted have likewise admitted finding ‘artificial happiness.’ Because of the inner pain and emptiness that resulted from following their wayward heart they now know that “there is nothing else so deceitful.”—Today’s English Version.
When you look at your own life, do you feel the same way? Have the things that you once considered your heart’s delight really brought a sense of fulfillment? Has your life course brought peace of mind and self-respect?
When you are not at peace with yourself, you cannot be truly happy. If your heart is “in pain,” no amount of laughter will cure it. (Proverbs 14:13) For instance, at the age of eighteen another young person deviated from the Bible standards she had been taught all her life. Yet, while pursuing a “carefree and exciting life,” she recalls: “I started thinking about the future. What would happen to me in five years if I persisted in my course? I just couldn’t continue to convince myself that I was happy. Without any hope I felt like the world’s unhappiest girl!”
So, then, if you have left the way of the truth, how can you again gain real happiness? The psalmist David provided a clue when he petitioned God: “Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I shall walk in your truth. Unify my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11) David knew that a heart divided in its affections was a great danger. Therefore, your heart must be adjusted so that all its powers can be focused on one thing—“sacred service” to Jehovah and wholehearted reverence for our God. (Romans 12:1, 2) But how can this desirable heart condition be brought about?
Your Heart Can Be Changed
First of all, you must recognize that the heart—your heart—can be changed. Regarding his wayward people, Jehovah said: “I will give them one heart [a united one], and a new spirit I shall put inside them; and I shall certainly remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, in order that they may walk in my own statutes and keep my own judicial decisions and actually carry them out; and they may really become my people and I myself may become their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19, 20) What divine loving-kindness! And just imagine—hearts as unresponsive as stone becoming tender, sensitive, willing to receive spiritual impressions.
However, is it through some miracle that Jehovah brings about such a change? Or, do you play some part in this? You have to put forth effort to arrange in your heart the things you remember about Jehovah. (Proverbs 16:1) Ponder over this information. Add to this knowledge. When was the last time you picked up a Bible or a study aid provided by Jehovah’s organization? No doubt you have some of these publications in your home or know where you can get them. Why not sincerely begin reading them? Acting on accurate knowledge of the Bible can change your heart and your course in life.—Proverbs 2:10-14.
In reading the Bible itself, you may find Psalm 25 particularly comforting. Ponder over such pleas to Jehovah as ‘the sins of my youth do not remember’ and “forgive my error, for it is considerable.” And think about how comforting it is to know that “intimacy with Jehovah belongs to those fearful of him.”—Psalm 25:7, 11, 14.
However, such Bible study must be more than just an absorbing of facts. We need to have the same attitude as that of the psalmist, who said: “In my heart I have treasured up your [Jehovah’s] saying, in order that I may not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) How can you ‘treasure up’ Jehovah’s word? After reading the Bible and related publications of the “faithful and discreet slave,” ask yourself: Just how valuable is this counsel? Would it help me to please Jehovah and avoid needless heartache? How can I apply it? Does not this practical counsel show that my heavenly Father knows what is best for me?—Matthew 24:45-47.
If you get the law of God into your heart, then your steps will not “wobble.” (Psalm 37:31) To bring your heart back to Jehovah, however, usually you will need loving help from a mature witness of Jehovah. Yes, you may need to have someone start “from the beginning” and teach you the ‘elementary things of God’s sacred pronouncements.’ (Hebrews 5:12) The congregation’s elders will be happy to assist. Why not get in touch with them?
Watch Your Associations
People can easily ‘incline your heart’ either to good or to bad. (Compare 1 Kings 11:3, 4.) It may have been the influence of the loose habits and “big talk” of your companions that contributed to your drifting away from the truth. Such persons may exclaim: ‘No one tells me what to do! Why be so strict on yourself?’ But are they really free? What about some of the unchristian habits to which they may be enslaved? (Compare 2 Peter 2:18, 19.) Are these individuals helping you to do the things that will bring lasting good? No, they are hindering you. So break free from such bad associates and seek out mature persons, those “wise” in God’s sight!—Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33.
‘God Is Greater Than Your Heart’
One young person who had become involved in unchristian habits at eighteen stated: “The main reason why it was so hard to come back to the truth was that I felt unworthy. I believed that all I had done was so bad that Jehovah would never forgive me or take me back.” Though his heart condemned him, in time he came to see God’s mercy. In these situations, how comforting can be scriptures such as 1 John 3:19, 20! There we read: “By this we shall know that we originate with the truth, and we shall assure our hearts before him as regards whatever our hearts may condemn us in, because God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.”
True, our hearts may condemn us. Yet Jehovah sees more than our sins. He sees all the “secrets of the heart.” (Psalm 44:21) The greatness of his knowledge enables him to hear with sympathy our earnest prayers for forgiveness. If we confess our sins and change our course, God is willing to blot out even grievous sins on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. The fact that a person feels so cut to the heart shows that he or she has not gone too far to recover. But for spiritual aid and recovery, such an individual also needs to get Scriptural assistance from the congregation’s elders. (Isaiah 1:18; 1 John 2:1, 2; 3:21; James 5:13-16) If you have drifted away from the truth, will you take the necessary steps to recover? We encourage you to do so.
Jehovah Will Provide Help
So “lead your heart,” rather than letting it mislead you. Develop the proper fear of Jehovah. “In that case,” states the Bible, “there will exist a future, and your own hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:17-19) And what a precious hope—an endless future in a new earth brought to paradisaic beauty by the rule of God’s kingdom! Imagine no longer being plagued by the leanings of a sinful heart. Furthermore, world conditions show that we now are deep in the last days and that soon this hope will become a reality. Striving to attain such a hope surely is worth while!—Matthew 24:7-14, 34; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 3:13; Luke 23:43; Revelation 21:3, 4.
The fact that Jehovah offers us a grand future and strengthens us to attain it should draw us close to him. This personal relationship is a rich reward in itself. After her spiritual recovery, the young woman mentioned earlier said: ‘I feel as though Jehovah is my Father again.’ A close relationship with Jehovah God brings a clear conscience, inner peace and self-respect. Moreover, by returning to Jehovah and his organization, you will again enjoy genuine friendships.
Of course, it is not easy to change the heart. Yet, Jehovah will bless your efforts. His spirit will help you to be “made mighty in the man you are inside.” (Ephesians 3:16) You will find that as you persist in prayer and in spiritual studies, associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses and disciplining your heart, the struggle will become easier. The heart will begin to form a longing for what is good. It will want to return to Jehovah.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you,” says Jehovah. “Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you.” (Isaiah 41:10) This is what Jehovah will do for those who really love him. If you have drifted away from the truth and yet your heart moves you to do what is right, God will “really help you” by means of his holy spirit and through responsible individuals in the Christian congregation. To that end, the appointed elders are glad to provide spiritual assistance. (1 Thessalonians 5:12; Hebrews 13:7) Take advantage of their loving help. Why not seek it right away?