An Honest Account of Love, Grief and Walking With God
Finding God's Goodness in Life's Disappointments

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Heart Check


Heart Check
April 2013
Kerrville Daily Times and Hill Country Community Journal



     As I walked into the Emergency Room to see my father, I was greeted by the physician that had been treating my dad. “Kathleen, your dad is in serious condition and his heart is failing. I am afraid he could code at any moment. Do you have his advanced directives?”  “I have them at home.” I replied, still trying to wrap my mind around what I heard. “You need to go and get them as soon as possible,” the tall doctor continued.

     I knew my father had bone cancer and congestive heart failure.  He was tough as a boot and had already used up his nine lives but I guess I expected he would have ten. He exercised, watched his weight and took medication to take care of his heart and to help beat the odds of his condition. He was a fighter and he had always been a part of my life.
    Pondering the events of recent months made me think about how the heart is a vital organ. It is imperative that each of us take care of our heart, otherwise, we will not live long. But what about your spiritual heart? What condition is your heart in? And how  can we take care of our spiritual heart?
     Proverbs 4:23 admonishes us to guard our heart. It says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (NIV) Our heart is the core of who we are and we must examine it all the time to keep it in good shape and in proper condition. When our heart is settled, peace  is in  our life even though circumstances might be a bit crazy. It is our heart that is the doorway to life with God.
     The first and  best ways we can take care of our spiritual heart is to give our hearts to Jesus. God sent Jesus so we could have a new heart. Ezekiel 36:26 talks about this great exchange and what God’s heart is for us when we accept Christ into our lives. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (NIV) 
     When we ask Jesus into our heart and lives, he gives us a new heart. Basically, we get a spiritual heart transplant and our new life in Christ begins. It is simple to get a new spiritual heart. Romans 10:9 &10 shows us how. “That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord,: and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Have you accepted Christ into your heart? If not, what are you waiting for? Your new heart is available.
      Numerous people give their hearts to Christ but then do not take care of their hearts. Reading the Bible, talking to God, also known as prayer, confessing sins to him and receiving His forgiveness are all things that strengthen our heart. All of these things keep our hearts in good shape. God’s word is like a road map. It keeps us going the right way, shows us how to live, speak, work, get along with others, have peace and joy.
     Prayer is nothing more than conversation with God. You do not have to kneel to pray and can visit with God anytime, any place. God loves being a part of our everyday life and created us to have relationship with Him. Telling God how we feel, what concerns us, how something hurt us are all ways of pouring out our heart to God. The great news is He is always available to listen. I frequently say to God during my prayer time, “Lord, I love you and open my heart to you.” I always want to be sensitive to God and His heart and ways.
     Just like hardening of the arteries will keep blood from flowing properly through our bodies, our heart can get hard and calloused by difficulties in life, hurt, disappointments, and  betrayal. Forgiveness is essential to keeping our heart soft. Forgiveness is a two way street. We are instructed throughout scripture to forgive others that have hurt and disappointed us and we are also told to ask God for forgiveness of the things we have done wrong.
     Confessing and repenting of our sins, wrong attitudes, selfish actions or unkind words are essential to keeping our heart soft. All of us have done wrong. Sometimes one of the hardest things to do is forgive ourselves. Most people hate to make mistakes but don’t be afraid to admit your faults to God. He loves you unconditionally and He wants your heart tender towards Him and others.
      If we want to be forgiven of our failures, we must be willing to forgive. Matthew 6:14 states, “ For if you forgive men when they sin, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (NIV) Sometime when the hurt is great, all we can do is ask God to help us to be willing to forgive. Unforgiveness is not your friend. It hurts you more than the other person. It can also create a cold and hard heart if we are not careful.
       Do yourself a favor and choose to forgive those that have hurt you, abandoned you or misunderstood you. Forgiveness doesn’t make the hurt go away but it begins the process of healing and keeps our heart tender. What a great example Jesus set for us in forgiving as he hung dying and forgave those that totally misunderstood him, judged him wrongfully, and dishonored him.
     My sweet father’s natural heart stopped beating shortly after my conversation with the physician. He loved God with all his heart and loved others around him well. He was a man that also took care of his spiritual heart and set a good example for his children and grandchildren.
     You and I have a lot of life to live. I do not want to miss one second of the things God has for me and I always want my heart to be soft and tender to Him and sensitive to those around me. Life flows from the heart in the natural and in our spiritual lives. Will you join me in giving your spiritual heart a checkup and take care of your heart? Our families and community will all benefit when we examine our spiritual hearts.

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Kathleen is a native of the Hill Country and is a writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping people discover their value and worth. She can be heard on Sunday mornings from 8:00 am to 9:00 am on The REV FM, 94.3. Contact her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com or visit her blog on www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com
     


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