Saturday, December 3, 2011

New, not mended!

I've banked your promises in the vault of my heart 
      so I won't sin myself bankrupt. 
(Psalm 119:11 The Message)

In the King James Version, this passage reads, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee."  I chose this image today as a reminder of what God's Word does when it enters our hearts.  You may notice that this image has two "stitched up" areas.  I think we often don't give credit to God for the work he does in the "changing" of our hearts.  We sometimes just think he is "mending" our hearts, but as you can see from the image, simple mending by anyone other than a skilled surgeon leaves us leaking!

I could have chosen a number of images to portray the meaning of this verse.  For example, if I chose an image of the Bible, I might focus on the importance of allowing the Word to affect our heart (mind, will and emotions).  The Word is a guide for our steps, an owner's manual of sorts.  I could have chosen the image of a piggy-bank, since it says we are to "deposit" the Word in our hearts in much the same manner as we would our pennies.  If I used that image, you'd get the impression that the Word is something that we need to "put into" our hearts - allowing it to multiply until we see the "yield" on the investment.  I could have chosen the image of an empty vault - giving the reader the impression that a heart without God's Word tucked inside is simply a vault without content!

All are apt illustrations of this verse.  All are suggestive of exactly what God expects for his Word to do within each of us.  Yet, those illustrations did not catch my eye as much as this one did.  You see, at best, getting the Word "into" our hearts is easy - allowing it to "heal" or "affect" our hearts is another.  It is much the same as with the foods we take into our bodies - we can stuff ourselves full of food, but some of it has more nutritional value than others.  Why is that?  Simply because it is something our body needs at that moment in time.  Our bodies have a unique way of using what they need and then laying up stores of resources for later use, discarding what they won't use at all.  

The Word of God is that way - it can be taken into our minds (hearts) in huge quantities, and then one little thing will begin to work on our hearts.  That "little thing" is more powerful than a double-edged sword.  It begins to do the work of the skilled surgeon!  The result is health in our mind and emotions.  What makes the difference is the "skill" of the one who is "working the Word" into our hearts.  Try as we might, we are unable to be our own "surgeons" when it comes to healing our emotions.  We need the skill of our Lord to accomplish that feat!

The passage we focus on today is quite brief, but filled with all kinds of lessons.  The "stores" of God's Word accomplish a great deal in our lives.  The first step of getting God's Word "into" our hearts is often the only thing we focus on from this passage.  God starts with the preparation of the heart - so it will be able to contain what is taken in, using it to accomplish the work it is intended for, and then holding it up in reserve for those times when we will need it again and again.  God is the one that mends (heals) the heart - mind, will, and emotions.  His skillful touches don't leave our hearts "leaking".  Instead, they leave us feeling like we have "new" hearts!

I would be remiss if I did not share a little advice here.  God is skillful in his timing - he brings to light his Word in just the right time!  He is like the surgeon calling for each instrument in the operating room in just the right order.  One instrument accomplishes the task that will lead to the next, until the finished product is a healed heart.  His work is consistent - he doesn't stop short of healing!  All we could possibly do in our own efforts to mend the disappointments of our past is just that - a mending job.  Some of our hearts look like patchwork quilts!  Here a mend, there a mend, everywhere a mend, mend, mend.  God is not in the work of mending - he is in the work of making new!

I've seen this in so many ways in my own life.  I went through divorce - laying up years of resentment and bitterness over the many disappointments of my marriage.  He did the work of taking his Word into the recesses of my mind, will and emotions (my heart).  In turn, those resentments were cut away, that bitterness was cauterized so it could bleed no more.  In the end, the work of the Word in his hand brought newness - no more "leaking" heart here!  I faced medical diagnoses that almost crippled me with fear.  His Word challenged my heart to beat harder for him than ever before.  Peace invaded my mind, overcame my shaky emotions, and let me pass through those times with grace and peace.

His Word - hid in our hearts - is a very precious gift.  His Word - skillfully applied by the guidance of his hand - is a healing touch.  His Word - laid up by regular intake - is a reserve for times when leanness would threaten to wreak havoc in our emotions.  His Word - powerful provision!  His Word - purposeful protection!  Don't "bankrupt" yourself!  Get it in; allow it to be used by him to bring about healing!  

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