When I moved to Addis Ababa this year, I would go bounding up three or four flights of stairs only to end up gasping for air. Arriving at the top, I would meet people and be visiting with them all the while continuing to be breathless. With the altitude at 7,500 feet to 9,000 feet--depending on where I was in the city--the oxygen needed to feed the legs for the climb is greatly reduced. I realize I needed to exercise more and drink more water to increase the capacity of my physical heart for living in this altitude.
In the same way, we need to increase our capacity to understand with the heart and to receive more that God has to teach us. I love the way Psalm 119 expresses it, “I shall run the way of Your commandments for You will enlarge my heart” (Ps. 119:32). This enlargement is an expanding of the capacity of the heart. Yes, this is what I want for myself and those to whom God has called me to minister. The Hebrew word for enlarge capacity is to broaden or widen so as to make room. Spiritually, we need more room to embrace all that God has for us to learn and do in His Kingdom. Our heart needs a bigger capacity to follow hard after God and His Word. Enlarge in scriptures often refers to a blessing of enlarged borders and increased wealth as we see what Jabez prayed in I Chronicles 4:10: "Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!" And God granted him what he requested. Enlarge also refers to increased safety in the path God is leading us...increased support to live a pure life as in 2 Samuel 22:37, “You enlarge my steps under me, And my feet have not slipped.”
I remember being in grad school with concentrated sessions and intensive lectures. By the end of the sessions, I would say, “I can’t learn anymore. I have reached my capacity to learn!” As I pray today for the Lord to enlarge the capacity of my heart, I ask that He will enlarge my capacity to know Him more, enlarge my capacity to hear his voice and understand his Word, and to enlarge my capacity to serve those God has called me to serve with a loving and pure heart. Oh, Lord, enlarge my heart. Let me not be complacent with my current capacity.
There is a problem of the heart called congestive heart failure. This is a chronic condition in which the heart just does not pump blood sufficiently--as well as it should. When I think about that condition, I think about our small efforts to serve God and I ask myself, am I chronically hindered by the capacity of my heart? Are we hindered by the lack of capacity to serve God? I pray that God will increase the capacity of our hearts to follow Him fully. To avoid physical congestive heart failure and to increase the capacity of our physical hearts:
Eat a diet rich in omega 3s like in fish and nuts, berries, grapes, and vegetables
Exercise in a variety of ways...from stretching to strength building to cardio exercise.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle of relaxing, laughing, sleeping as well as avoidance of addictive substances such as chat or smoking or drunkenness.
Interestingly, there is a spiritual correlation between developing the physical capacity of the heart and the spiritual capacity.
Oh, yes, there is a rich diet of His Word and fellowship with Jesus. Let us feed on the good foods of the Kingdom of God!
We also need to stretch ourselves in serving and not settle for the easy way. Hebrews 12 reminds us to "strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble" and "run with endurance the race that is set before us."
There are also things to avoid. Paul in Ephesians 4 exhorts us to "let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." In Proverbs 17:22, we are reminded that "a joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."
We could expound on that list above, but the point is: Do we want God to increase the capacity of our hearts? If so, we will spiritually eat right, exercise, and avoid any attitude that diminishes our capacity to follow hard after God.