An Open Heart for God

Theresa RoweBy Theresa Rowe8 Minutes

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.
Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
Mark out a straight path.
Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.
Proverbs 4:23-27 NLT

Sitting around the campfire reminiscing about the good old days has never been my thing. It’s not that I do not have some great memories, looking forward keeps me moving forward. Now that does not include all the wonderful things God has done for me through the years, I can brag on Him for hours!

Whether you chase memories in a box of old photos or wear them on a chain around your neck, when God touches your heart, everything changes! I am celebrating two anniversaries this year. The thirty-fifth year for my first open heart surgery and the fifteenth for the second one. Just thinking about people breaking open my chest to work on my heart points my thoughts to the goodness and greatness of God. And that second surgery, nine and half hours, three holes patched, and rerouting my blood to circulate in the right direction, praise God!

Growing up as a child, I never dreamed of helping others shape their bodies and hearts for God’s purposes. Part of celebrating Christ’s healing of my heart is leading others in purposeful movements praising and honoring our heavenly Father. God knew the plans he had for me, the path I would take, and how His desires would become my desires, if I allowed him to lead me. He created within me a new heart (Psalm 51:10).

Fist-shaped and central to everything in our body, the heart pumps blood throughout our circulatory system. Both the outside and inside of the heart direct the flow of blood. The heart is the purr the body’s engine makes when it is functioning at peak efficiency and quietly maintains our blood pressure. It provides oxygen and nutrients our body needs to live. A healthy heart pumps just the right amount of blood at a rate that allows our body to function as God created.

In contrast, when the heart is sick, the entire body suffers. For me, it began with symptoms of fatigue and a very slow-moving heart rate. Ironically, when I exercised and pumped the blood, I felt somewhat normal and alive. Without exercise I was worn out, lethargic, leaving me wondering what was wrong.

Now, just because I knew there was a problem with my health did not mean the doctors would agree. My healthy appearance on the outside masked the congenital heart condition hidden beneath. My body is far from normal and typical medical protocols do not work. Thank goodness God had a plan for my healing, and after a year of searching, He sent me to doctors willing to open their minds and hearts to new possibilities. Thank God these physicians were willing to dig down deep in their textbooks, and trust in Someone bigger than themselves for the answers!

Our heart is at the very core of our spirit. The Bible mentions the heart 791 times in the NIV, 863 times in the NASB, and 963 times in the NJV. The Word of God encourages us to allow God full access to our heart as we give Him permission to fully diagnose its condition (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT). Could it be possible our opinions and cultural beliefs have cast dark shadows on our hearts, which mask a sickness?

Our heart is the seat of our affections, our perceptions, the way we love, and possibly even the way we hate. The heart is like a symphony conductor of our body, with rhythms and melodies that rise and fall according to its condition. But rhythms can become ruts, and melodies can become off-key, which can illuminate the spiritual health of a person or a nation.

America’s fist is clenched. Her heart is sick. We talk about loving one another, but at the same time hate our enemies. Sadly, our enemies can be fellow believers on the other side of a political issue or party. Our anger can be unforgiveness from twenty years or twenty minutes ago. Either way, have we really given this issue to God? Have we dug deep in His textbook to find the answers? Or, do we accept the consensus of the media?

In the tiny Book of Philemon, we learn a great big lesson for life in this world. Paul is writing to Philemon from Rome while under house arrest. Paul informs Philemon that his runaway slave, Onesimus, has become a Christian and has been serving him in Rome. To truly understand this situation, we must understand this culture. Runaway slaves are typically executed, and in the case of Onesimus, he has stolen from Philemon too.

Onesimus has voluntarily agreed to return to Philemon, and Paul has agreed to repay anything Onesimus owes. Paul reminds Philemon that Onesimus is now a fellow believer and should be accepted with forgiveness like Jesus Christ forgives us. What a timely story for today!

We will never be able to do this life alone, we need Jesus! Without Him we build walls, with Him we build bridges! The heart is the doorway to peace. John 16:33 (TPT) tells us, “And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world, you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!”

Proverbs 14:30 NLT says, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body.”

And, one open heart for God can change the world!

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