I’ve noticed something about myself that I don’t like.
I encounter a person. I ask them how they are doing. They tell me. Good. Bad. Mediocre. Whatever. Sometimes I scroll through Facebook. I see an article about a tragedy. Or maybe a victory. I get a phone call or a text from someone near to me. They tell me something sad happened. Or maybe something awesome. All day I am flooded by the stories of other people. And then I see myself walk on with my day, unfazed by the tremendous joys and heart-wrenching sorrows scattered along my path.
I’m busy. I have a lot going on in my head. A lot of personal plans and goals and ideas and to-do lists. I am focused on my personal contribution to the Kingdom of God.
And in doing so I miss the very core of what makes up this Kingdom.
I don’t want to be this person anymore.
It isn’t easy to leave this lifestyle behind. We are wired to accomplish and build and do and achieve. We are conditioned to focus our efforts on the size of our output, the measurement of our status, the contribution of our work, the production of our days. And in order to get it all done we can’t let ourselves get bogged down.
But the Kingdom we are building has never considered size of much value. I’ve got to get past this need to achieve and learn to be aware of the life happening around me.
Perhaps a heart transplant is in order.
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. -Ezekiel 36:26
It is getting colder as we move further into autumn. We’ll drop down below freezing most nights now. Each day the ground gets harder and with each leaf dropped we are nearing the bleak days of winter.
I don’t want my heart to grow cold too. As the earth gets colder I want my heart to stay warm. I want it to be malleable in the hands of my Lord. I’ll hold it to the fire fire, maybe it’ll soften by the heat of the flames – painful though it may be. I want to be willing to receive a heart transplant – a heart of flesh to replace the heart of stone.
Maybe I will be able to change. Maybe I will at last be able to release my need to produce and achieve and maybe I’ll finally be moving slowly enough to see the person next to me. Maybe I’ll be tender enough to be drawn into their stories. Maybe you can too.
It’ll hurt more, having a heart of flesh. You will be susceptible to compassion and empathy. The agony of others, the injustice around us, the devastation and brokenness and heartache that has invaded this world will also invade your heart. You will not merely recognize the sorrow of the person next to you, you will weep with them. You will not be able to get away with sending a sympathy card and moving on with your day. You will enter into the mourning. Your heart will break with the things that break God’s heart.
It might be easier to choose the heart of stone.
But if you are numb to pain you will also be numb to happiness. Along with greater pain comes an expansion of joy.