Tuesday, September 15, 2009


(For those of you who know my friend Matt, please read the title of this post with the same voice inflection that he uses to make fun of Cody for calling A Walk to Remember a perfect picture of love.) :)

Silliness aside, my heart seems to be an inescapable theme these days. Whenever I leave the ship, I run across places like the areas pictured below.

Every time I see trash rotting by the side of the road, or strewn haphazardly across an otherwise picturesque landscape, I wonder how anyone can let a place that could be so beautiful be destroyed by so much garbage. I realize this is going to sound really cheesy, but last weekend it struck me that this may be just what God sees when He looks at our hearts. Created for so much beauty, but littered with so much filth. Sure, I may do a decent job of burying my mess so that it isn't brazenly exposed for all the world to see, but it's still there...permeating my thoughts, emotions, and motives with the same stench that pervades the streets of West Africa.

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9

"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness." Mark 7: 21-22
One of the things I quickly discovered I missed most about being home is fellowship with my "how's your heart?" friends. You know, the friends who don't accept "fine" for an answer when they ask how you are. The friends who want to know where you are struggling so that they can hold you accountable. The friends who call you out when your attitude or actions don't line up with Scripture. The friends who make you "think on things that are true" (from Phillipians 4:8) and who "spur you on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24). They love you for who you are--with all of your quirks, temptations, and insecurities--but they care enough to make sure you don't stay that way. I miss my "how's your heart?" friends.

Thankfully, I think I may have found some new ones. Several of the girls from my Gateway training recently started a small group Bible study together. We're using Beth Moore's A Heart Like His to learn how to be a person "after God's own heart" by studying the life of David. The first homework assignment included the question: What does it mean to be a person after God's own heart? I couldn't help but think of the lyrics to one of my favorite praise songs, "Hosanna" by Hillsong United:
Heal my heart and make it clean.
Open up my eyes to the things unseen.
Show me how to love like You
Have loved me.

Break my heart for what breaks Yours,
Everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into

Often you'll hear believers talk about how they "have a heart for ___________" (a specific nation or people group). I've been bothered lately that I don't "have a heart for Africa." I walk the streets and feel no connection with the people whatsoever. At my best moments, I may feel a twinge of pity for a child who looks dirty or malnourished. For the most part though, these people are just...foreign. I can't understand what they are saying because I don't speak their language. The smell is sometimes nauseating and I judge them, thinking, how hard is it to find a better way to dispose of trash? They try to charge me higher prices at the markets because the color of my skin is synonymous with wealth. They stare because I am just as foreign to them as they are to me. In my most self-absorbed moments, they are the reason I am not at home. And in these moments I don't even want a heart for Africa...because that might mean I'd have to stay!

Yet I know God's heart is broken for the people here. I know that I am blinded to the things unseen. I know I need to learn how to love them like He loves them, like He has loved me. But it's impossible. I cannot do it. My heart is covered with trash.

"Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:24-25

"I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they wil be My people, and I shall be their God." Ezekiel 11:19-20

"Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendents, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live." Deuteronomy 30:6

Beth Moore shared Deuteronomy 30:6 in the video we watched at small group last week. She used it to explain that even loving God is a work that God does, not us. All we can do is hand over our hearts to Him. My friend Christina added her own thoughts on circumcision of the heart. She said that as a nurse, she's witnessed her fair share of circumcisions. At one point in her life, she swore she would never allow the procedure to be done on her child. She continued, "It's painful...and bloody. It's a courageous thing to hand over your heart because circumcision hurts."
For a little boy, circumcision is done for cleanliness. Hmm...perhaps it works the same way with our hearts.
Heal my heart and make it clean...

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