Endangered Heart

She didn’t know that there was a problem with her heart until the doctor told her the test results. A few concerns. I want to look more closely. And so on the chosen day she submitted to needles and personal questions and not eating all day and an undignified gown, because when your heart is in danger you do what it takes.

When your heart is in danger you do what it takes.

I don’t think any of us really expected there to be any real problems. But afterwards, when she was recovering and the doctor came out to explain what he had seen in her heart, we learned that in spite of her ignorance and her healthy eating, her heart had been closing itself off with an excess of all that stuff that flows through our veins with our blood– all that stuff that sticks to blood vessels and narrows them. 95% blockages. Three stents in a row.

And we had had no idea. My mother could have been days away from a massive heart attack, and none of us had any idea. She had no idea.

Isn’t it so often this way with our hearts? We just don’t know what it’s really like in there.

The stents– their job is to hold that long track of blood tunnel open so that the blood– the life of the body– can get around the heart, can get oxygen, can get to the various systems and all the important places and keep my mom alive. They are just little tiny things, but their job is so important.

And I can’t help but think of my own heart– not my physical one, but my true heart, the part of me that loves the Lord and has been made clean by His Son’s sacrifice. My heart is no different from my mother’s clogged-up organ. Every day good things flow through my life, right through my heart, bringing life to all of who I am, life and strength to do my work. And every day other things flow through as well, things that are harmful– maybe anger or selfishness or a word I heard in the store or a story I saw in the checkout lane, maybe bitterness or pride or even just tiredness. And these things stick to my most vital places and squeeze them shut, so that I am in danger of a massive catastrophe of sin or defeat in my life.

When your heart is in danger you do what it takes.

What it takes for my heart– for your heart, my friend– is daily cleansing. The heart doctor, he put those stents in and bought my mom what we pray is many more years. But in all likelihood the cholesterol and other stuff will begin to build up in her arteries, because that’s what it does. She can change her diet, exercise more, all that good stuff, but she is genetically disposed to heart trouble. Just like me. And there’s only so much the doctor can do for that, because there is no Liquid Plumber for blood vessels, sweeping all the garbage out whenever it gets a little bit too crowded in there.

But there is just such a thing for my heart, for your heart. I do not have to have an IV, painkillers, sedatives, and a team of doctors to get my heart cleared of all its buildup. I am invited to do so daily– to come to the throne of grace and find guaranteed forgiveness and cleansing from all of my sin and all the unwelcome baggage my heart tends to pick up each day. My daily time with God, in His Word and in prayer, is like a stent holding things open so that I can live an abundant life, doing the work and walking the walk God has called me to.

You are invited to this daily heart procedure too, my friend.

It won’t be easy. It takes time. It takes humility and a willingness to let God invade your personal space and do His uncomfortable work in you. But it is worth it. It is life-giving, life-saving, life-altering. It is the way to hear God’s voice and see His work and experience what Jesus meant when He promised us life more abundant. It is daily protection from a massive heartbreak. It is a sacrifice, but it is worth the discomfort in the end, because it leads to life and freedom.

Just ask my mom. A stent is better than open-heart surgery. The discomforts of such a procedure shrink when you think of the alternative. The sacrifice is worth it, to guard your heart.

When your heart is in danger you do what it takes.

Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.

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