Heart of Hearts
Valentine’s Day falls in the very depth of February. This kind of over-the-top celebration seems far better suited to the free-flowing breeziness of the summer or even the raw exuberance of spring, so it’s fascinating to find the deep crimson of the heart set against the austere backdrop of virginal white snow. Maybe the harsh desolation of a frigid snowscape really is the perfect moment to showcase the unvarnished condition of the heart.
In modern life, Valentine’s Day has become the absurd contortion the world uses to capture and glamorize the nature of romantic love. I confess it leaves me absolutely cold, and that’s not even sour grapes. I doubt St. Valentine would have found the price of martyrdom worth the unabashed one-upsmanship of over-blown gestures currently celebrated. What has synthetic romance-on-demand got to do with authentic love?
While my amorous involvement is a little thin on the ground at the moment, I do have a memorable Valentine’s Day to relate. Many years ago, I was travelling with a worship band and we were the special music at a couples-only Church Valentines banquet. My singleness isn’t usually an issue, but I was literally the only unattached adult in the place, so I was dreading the evening. Imagine my delight when, towards the end, the Pastor’s sweet little five-year-old daughter shyly offered me a hand-cut heart written with the words “I love you. Jesus.” It made my night. I carried that impossibly pure expression of admiration in my Bible for many years.
Everybody’s looking for love, and it’s true that the hunt is a treacherous, passionate mine-field. The real problem, however, may be closer to home. How can we hope to make a lasting connection with the heart of another, if we’re barely acquainted with our own? Few, if any of us, really comprehend our own heart and the tremendous real-estate it commands. We say stupid, flippant inanities (“you have to be true to your heart”), that pronounce our woeful ignorance. Jeremiah sums it up succinctly by saying
The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV
Any honest and intimate dissection of our heart’s condition is enough to make us squirm. For the most part, our hearts are hidden, secretive, mysterious territories, even to ourselves. We don’t like going down into the depths of innermost identity. The heart holds closely the history of trauma, insecurity, rejection, thwarted hopes and dreams. There be dragons; big, old, dangerous antagonists of the past. Ogres of fear, failure, treachery and rejection lurk around every corner. Unfortunately, the problem with remaining oblivious to the true state of affairs is that we will repeat our dysfunctional patterns over and over again unless we identify and acknowledge them. Usually, only a stimulus of deep pain can cause us to truly open up and get up close and personal. Even then, just because we know we are wounded, broken or diseased, it doesn’t mean we are able to heal ourselves.
When we use the expression ‘our heart of hearts’, we are talking about what we would really find, ask, think or admit if we were totally, brutally honest with ourselves. It’s a place where there is no pretense, no fabrication. The truth lies bare and exposed, and we’re prepared to own it. We say what we really feel without censure. For believers, our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, so the heart is the holy of holies. You’ve got to go behind the veil to understand true intimacy. Only in His presence will you know yourself. Incidentally, that’s also real worship. To really live the life created for you, recapturing this connection is critical. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, how can we possibly hope to achieve any meaningful connections, romantic or otherwise? Not only does the re-connect heal you, it protects you. If there’s one thing we need as we navigate this world, it’s serious cardiac defense.
The heart is highly vital, but there’s an organism affiliated with it of equal, if not superior, importance. The pericardium encompasses, confines, protects and supports the heart in its unceasing functioning. In fact, so critical is the pericardium to cardiac well-being that should it be pierced, the heart itself will simply stop. This tough, fibrous, double-layered sac anchors the heart to the body, lubricates its movement, prevents it from over-filling with blood, protects it from infection from any other organ and insulates from external shock or trauma. Wow, God!
Knowing how critical the heart is, the Lord gave it special protection. If our physical, flesh heart actually has a guardian in the natural realm, would it not be reasonable to assume that the Lord also provides a spiritual equivalent? As a matter of fact, He does.
The Holy Spirit always intended to be the Champion protector of our hearts. He alone knows how weak, vulnerable, deluded and self-willed that muscle is, not to mention how much we need security and safe-guarding. However, we’ve got to make right choices in order to give Him permission. When we walk in honest integrity and honor God’s protocol for right relationships, He overshadows our emotions, cleanses our conscience and drives out self-condemnation. He actively defends us from predators, foes, ambushers, imposters, haters and other concealed villains. In His keeping, our hearts actually become changed.
Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:19-20 NKJV
We may think we’ve invested our love wisely, but nothing compares to the great tenderness God has for us. In the Heart of all hearts we find rest, safety and succor, even from ourselves.
I am my Beloved's, and He is mine. Songs 2:16
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