Don’t We All Need Cardiotherapy?
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
One year I spent Valentine’s Day in the cardiac care unit of Hartford Hospital. This was not so I could literally have “Happy Heart Day.” This was an emergency. My husband had failed his stress test and was discovered to have clogged arteries requiring heart catheterization. Later he had a five-way heart bypass which was a huge wake-up call for us. Since Mike looked extremely healthy and fit, we had no warning of impending heart disease. However, both his parents had suffered heart problems, so he was a prime candidate. We’re celebrating Mike’s 15 healthy years since heart surgery and are grateful he is doing better than before!
But not only is heart disease the number-one killer of women today, “heartsickness” is also a devastating reality. Too many people I meet are slowly dying from anger, unforgiveness, and stress. They, too, need cardiotherapy from the Great Physician.
Throughout the Bible are accusations of people being hard-hearted when it refers to the unresponsive, stiff, angry, insensitive, rebellious, and independent attitudes ruling our hearts. Today, many symptoms of hard-heartedness are such things as erecting walls to protect us from pain, living with an “it’s all about me” attitude, refusing to give God lordship and control over our behavior, and harboring pain and grudges. All of these hurt us and can damage our souls.
According to Ezekiel, idolatry was the cause of hardened hearts, and God desired to replace the idolatry of the Israelites. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36.26 Most of us don’t think of ourselves as idol worshipers in the twenty-first century, but we are. Whenever we focus on what we get by serving God (good luck, prosperity, long life, success in battle, power, or prestige), we are not worshiping Him simply for who He is. That is what the idols of long ago did for the people — they were simply means to a desired end.
But God promises to renew our hearts. Just as my husband’s clogged arteries had to be bypassed with new arteries, so our souls also must be healed from heart disease. “I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord. They will be My people, and I will be their God because they will return to Me with all their heart” (Jeremiah 24.7). Then we no longer have to focus on what has kept us emotionally or spiritually clogged. The state of your heart—your soul—is all important. It helps determine who you are and how you’ll live out your days here on earth.
- Is your heart totally sold out to God?
- Are you seeking His will and His way in every decision of life?
- What do you need to do to exchange your heart of stone for a heart of flesh?
In their book, The Sacred Romance, John Eldredge and the late Brent Curtis penetrated my aching, needy heart that desperately wanted to hear how God tenderly woos and romances me with His love. Their words struck a chord. “The inner life, the story of our heart, is the life of the deep places within us, our passions and dreams, our fears and our deepest wounds. . . .”
As I reflect on my life, I realize that in the end it doesn’t really matter how well I have performed or what I have accomplished, even for God. But it would matter if I left my heart behind. A life without heart is not worth living.
“For out of this wellspring of our soul flows all true caring and all meaningful work, all real worship and all sacrifice. Our faith, hope, and love issue from this fount, as well. Because it is in our hearts that we first hear the voice of God and it is in the heart that we come to know Him and learn to live in His love.” (Eldredge & Curtis)
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73.25-26
under the mercy, Cindy
Portions of this blog were excerpted from my book, Spa for the Soul.
©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
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