I’ve been thinking about the heart a lot lately. The physical kind of heart. For some context: one of our kids had a heart anomaly show up at a recent well check, and though we won’t know more (and I’m trying not to preemptively worry) until we see a specialist, the issue has been weighing on me.
Our medical scare has me reflecting on what an absolute miracle the heart is. This fist-sized organ clocks in at under a pound, but what it lacks in size it makes up in stamina, industriousness, and efficiency. Our hearts beat all day long, never stopping for breaks, maintaining life as they pump blood through our bodies and work alongside other internal systems to keep our inner and outer mechanisms in fit and proper order.
We rarely think about our hearts, unless something is wrong. But as soon as something goes askance with our hearts, it needs to be addressed. . . because the thing about hearts is that we really need them functioning. And we need them whole. (This might be a good time to note that I am not a medical expert, so please don’t quote me on this. It may be possible to live without a heart or with only part of one, but I’m not sure that’s recommended.)
It took me longer than I care to admit to make the connection between my ponderings on the physical heart and my own metaphorical heart focus for 2022. But I did get there eventually, and once I had started noticing the parallels, I couldn’t stop noticing them. As with the physical heart, our symbolic hearts are always humming in the background. They don’t always require direct care or attention, but our soulish hearts do need regular checkups, and they will let us know when they are hurting and in need of repair.
When our hearts are sick, our whole selves suffer. In order to thrive mentally, socially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, we need our hearts to be healthy and complete. We simply cannot go on if our hearts are divided, fractured, hardened, or impaired. Like the hearts that beat within our chests, our spiritual hearts must be whole.
In a world of distraction and sinfulness, it can be hard to know what wholehearted living looks like. Thankfully we have the perfect model of wholeheartedness in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. A song we sing in church says of God that He does not give His heart in pieces. . . and He gave us His entire, undivided heart when He sent His son to earth. The son who Himself poured the wholeness of His being into existing as a human man. Jesus was all-in with everything He did and said in His time on earth. His compassion, His teaching, His miracles, and even His demeanor were all whole-hearted. Jesus’s motives were pure, His actions and words were steeped in truth, and His steps were intentional, purposeful, and altogether loving.
Jesus’s sacrificial act on the cross two thousand years ago was the most wholehearted demonstration of all. Arms stretched out, heart entirely exposed and vulnerable and whole, pumping out blood that would wash over our sins. His heart was not given in pieces. He held nothing back, pulled out all the stops, laid all His cards out on the table, went ALL IN. Knowing He would be rejected. Knowing we would tarnish and abuse the heart He offered. Knowing we would ravage His most sacred of gifts, relegating it to the trash heap when its true resting place should be upon the most elevated and celebrated of pedestals.
Jesus’s heart was the treasured jewel He did not keep to Himself. He gave it all, in full knowledge that we would not treat it with the respect and dignity it deserved, but loving us too much not to risk it. As Dane Ortlund so eloquently reminds us, “The creation of the world was to give vent to the gracious heart of Christ. And the joy of heaven is that we will enjoy that unfettered and undiluted heart forevermore.”
Lord Jesus, we praise your holy name and we thank you for offering your whole heart to us. Thank you for uniting with us so that we may be defined, not by our own faulty and broken hearts, but by your beautiful, loving, holy, and whole one.