As I was driving home yesterday, I went by a local church I often pass - one with a sign out front which they change periodically to have some new message to give you some fodder for thought. They didn't let me down! The sign read: "God wants to restore your heart, but he needs all the pieces." I got to thinking about all the "pieces" of our heart we somehow manage to give away, deny, and the like. It made me think how difficult this job of restoring a "clean" heart within us really is for God - not beyond him, by any means - but if we hold back the pieces, or don't even realize we haven't given him all of them, it is easy to see how we might "deal" with issues for quite a while in our lives. As I began to dwell on this a little further, the easiest thing to do is to take the attention off oneself and place it squarely on another - so I began to think about my kids and some of the things they have dealt with through the years, pieces of their hearts clearly "damaged" by events they experienced. I began to wonder if God had those "pieces" or not. As I began to think about what my kids have experienced, it wasn't long before God began to turn the table on me - bringing me face-to-face with "me" and my "pieces". God is amazing at how he does this in our lives. So, as I communed with him on my commute home yesterday, I'd like to share some of the "pieces" I think we often deny, hide, or just plain have forgotten about in our lives.
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NLT)
One of those "pieces" of our heart might be labeled as "regret" - those events happening in our lives, and even those which could have but did not, which leave some element of a sense of loss or disappointment. For me, there are more than just one or two of these. I can think pretty far back in to my pre-teen years and find some of these "pieces" scattered here and there. How about you? Actions I took then still cause me some "regret" today - simply because I cannot "undo" what was "done" or left "undone". This is often the case with a good many of us - we simply cannot truly "retrace" our steps and make all which gives us regret "better" by doing something now, or doing something differently now. What we can do with our "heart pieces" which we can label as "regret" is to bring them to Jesus because he knows how to make those new. We just cannot "undo" what has been done, but he can "make new" what needs to be done moving forward!
Another "piece" of our heart I thought about as often getting denied or just plain unrecognized is that of "lost trust". These are the pieces which occur when little by little others seem to disappoint us because they didn't keep their promises to us. Their actions left us with little bits and pieces of mistrust and before long, those little pieces broke off a huge chunk of our hearts. As I looked back in my life, there were times when I was the culprit here - the one doing the "breaking off" of the pieces of another's heart. By my actions, I caused others to not be able to trust me - because I chose to live by dishonesty. I am getting real with you here today, my friends, so I hope you won't be offended when I confess a few things which have been part of my past. I learned to embellish the truth as a child - often creating a fantasy life to live within - simply because I didn't think my "real" life was worth much. I didn't believe anyone would like the "real" me, so I created an imaginary me. It was this continual cycle of having to embellish one untruth upon another which eventually caused a lot of broken pieces in the lives of those who trusted me! It took a lot to lay down those untruths and to become the "me" you see today - no longer hiding behind the stories of greatness I had portrayed to others because I thought they could not like or accept the real me. When I finally laid down the untruth, making truth the measure by which I would live my life, I began to see the "pieces" restored in me, but going back to my first piece (that of regret), I saw where I had affected the lives of those I loved by leaving their hearts with little pieces missing! We don't just affect our own hearts by our actions - the lives and hearts of a great many may be affected, as well. Maybe this is one of the hardest works of restoration God has to do with our hearts - the rebuilding of trust. I know it is possible because I have seen it in my own life, but if you are there today, don't lose hope. Don't buy into the feelings of regret and the belief that you can never trust again. God can bring healing, it will just take a little time.
Lastly, I thought about the "piece" of our heart we might call "failure". These are the pieces created when we try things in our own effort, or completely in our own self-will independent of what God instructs for our lives. They are not always big pieces, either - but they have a cumulative effect. Little by little, each attempt which ends in failure becomes a regrettable event, and often reflects on how it is we trust others and how they trust us. It also impacts how well we trust God - especially when what we thought we were attempting is what we thought God wanted for our lives! You see, these "pieces" all go together, my friends. No piece is without meaning - no piece is less significant than another. The problem with "crumbling" structures is that when one piece begins to breakdown, the other pieces follow suite! It is like a row of dominoes - one falls and the others begin to fall simply because of the pressure exerted by the first one which fell. One piece of our heart becomes damaged and the other pieces surrounding it are affected and then the next and so on. This is why we cannot do this work of "putting the pieces back together" all by ourselves. We are just not capable of "making new" - at best, we can "glue" together broken pieces, but they will always reflect the brokenness when we do it that way!
There is no other way to have the pieces be put back together in "perfect" formation than for God to do it. He doesn't simply fit the pieces back together and use some "super-natural glue" to hold all the pieces in place. Instead, he takes all the pieces into his care, and gives us a new heart to work with! Now, that is good news indeed! New for used and broken! In God's economy, used and broken are just a means by which he can make "new again" what we have offered to him in multiple pieces! Just sayin!