Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Matter of the Heart is Love

I have several childhood memories of Momma and me making Valentines for family members and friends.  I recall more clearly one year in particular when Momma and I made a beautiful Valentine’s Box to hold all the cards that I anticipated receiving from my schoolmates.  Using a shoe box, we cut a slit in the lid.  We covered the entire box with bright red tissue paper and outlined the edges of the lid with ruffled white lace.  We meticulously cut various sizes of red, pink and white hearts from
construction paper and carefully glued them to the tissue covered box.  We placed some smaller hearts in the center of larger ones, sprinkled glitter on some and wrote words of affection on others.  Resting on the center of the lid was my favorite heart.  It was made of dazzling pink fabric, trimmed in elegant white lace, bigger and prettier than any other heart on the box.  It was a shattered heart, though, with an opening in the center to fit over the slit in the lid.  Every card that entered my Valentine “treasure chest” had to pass through the brokenness of this heart.

While I’m not sure why it was my favorite then, as I consider this special heart now, it has great significance to me.  I’ve come to understand, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17)  In Hebrew, “broken” and “contrite” are very expressive words.  Broken signifies “to be shattered” and contrite implies “to be crushed” into nothingness.

It is made clear in Scripture that "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9).  This stony heart with which every person is born cannot submit to the will of God, therefore it must be put to death!  A shattered spirit and a heart shattered and crushed into nonexistence are the sacrifices which God requires and looks upon with favor.
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit”

(Psalm 34:18)

The graphic above is an image that I believe my Lord gave to me years ago as a logo for my counseling ministry.  It depicts the heart of those who have come to that place in life where they know in the very depths of their soul that they are nothing without Jesus and that while they may have accomplished much according to the world’s standards, they can do nothing of themselves worthy of God’s attention.  While they may have professed faith in Jesus for years, it is at this pivotal point where they have come to a deeper realization that Jesus truly is their only hope.  From such a wounded heart faith proceeds and seeks God for mercy!  I used to believe that this was the position from which we are made ready to receive this precious gift;

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh

(Ezekial 36:26).

I’ve come to understand instead that it is this point at which we realize that there has been (past tense) a new life birthed within us!  While Momma and I created a beautiful Valentine Box to receive sentiments of affection from others, when God recreates us, our new heart provides a dwelling place for Jesus (Ephesians 3:17), supplies a receptacle of God’s love (Romans 5:5) which we didn’t have before and makes it possible for us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31).

There is only One who deserves the glory for this death and resurrection in us!  “The Lord your God will circumcise (cut to pieces, destroy) your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live” (Deuteronomy 30:6)!

The matter of the heart is Love!


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