Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hearts of Flesh

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There have been so many things in this world that I’ve held on tightly to.  Things that inevitably held me back from all of the truly important things in this life.  Control, perfection, expectations – all things I would not let go of.  Joy, beauty, happiness – the things I could never seem to grasp.  My heart was immovable – heavy with burden…and yet it was also continually wandering...wandering continually further away from God.  It yearned for happiness, but only felt the sting of unmet expectations.  It searched for beauty, but only saw imperfection.  It longed for joy, but only felt a growing need to control.  Yes this was my heart - my heart apart from God - my heart that was stone.
Growing up in the world, I learned through multiple experiences that hurtful things can happen when you put your love and trust in people.   As a small child, I remember these hurtful situations in my life seeming so enormous…
insurmountable…all consuming.   What I didn’t learn is that my God is bigger.  My God is trustworthy.  My God loved me…all invaluable things for such a small, fragile, new heart in this fallen world to know.  But, in not knowing, instead of looking to God in my pain, I looked inwards to myself.  Instead of trusting God in my circumstances and relationships, I trusted only myself.  Instead of giving and receiving love through and from God, I guarded my heart from all love.  Then, as a result of these things, I spent my years as a youth wandering further and further into sin while my heart became more and more like stone, and this heart of stone is what I clung too as I ventured out on my own into this world as a lost and hurting young adult.
I don’t blame my parents for any of this.  I love them.  They were/are good parents.  They did the best with what they knew – the best with what had been passed down to them from their parents.  For when a generation grows up being shaped by the world, rather than being transformed in the Word, hearts of stone are what become the inherited legacy. But fortunately, it doesn’t have to stay this way, because fortunately we have a God who never gives up on us and never stops calling us to him.  This is what he did for my family.  As adults, our gracious Lord blessed us abundantly by bringing both of my parents, myself, my husband, and two out of three of my siblings to a saving relationship in Christ.  He removed our hearts of stone, and gave us each a heart of flesh– praise God!
Do I still struggle with control, perfection, and expectation now that I’ve received this incredible gift?  I absolutely do.  The transformation of the heart is a process.  But with a heart of flesh, we learn that expectations are not only fulfilled but exceeded when put in God rather than in others and in the world.  With a heart of flesh, we learn that only God is perfect, but he loves us anyway just as we are.  With a heart of flesh, we learn to surrender control to Him and that this is o.k. because we can fully trust Him always.  With a heart of flesh, we are able to begin letting go of control, perfection, and expectation in this world, and finally experience the joy, see the beauty, and feel the happiness that our hearts have been yearning, searching, and longing for all along, and that is a wonderfully glorious, awe-inspiring thing!
As I sit here pondering all that God has changed for me and in me, I am struck with the realization of the responsibility that I now have as a parent – the responsibility to keep my daughters heart from becoming hardened by the world.  The responsibility to ensure that she knows that her God is bigger, that her God is trustworthy, that her God loves her so very much…the responsibility to leave her a legacy of a heart of flesh.
How about you?  What legacy are you leaving your children’s hearts?  Are you allowing the world to shape their hearts, or are you instilling in them God’s love, God’s truth, God’s power?  I hope that you’re planting their hearts in the Lord, leaving a legacy of hearts of flesh for them and for many generations to come.
A wandering heart in the world will become hardened, but a heart planted firmly in the Lord will become heartened. 
~Katrina Wylie
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts…teach them to your children.” ~Deuteronomy 11:18a, 19a
“Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” ~Deuteronomy 4:9

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