Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The melting heart


Baby Gloryanna held out her hands to me!  She had come to me before but she had never really wanted me alone. She had never held out her hands specifically to me. And, of course, I took her and, of course. my heart melted...like water.

As a kid, there was nothing I loved better than going to Grandma's house. She was such a special person to me that even when I left home, I made sure that I would spend several nights at her house.  The minute I walked in the door she would start crying and say, "Oh, Honey, I missed you so much." I would say, "But why are you crying?  I'm here now." She would say, "Because I know when you leave I'll be missing you even more."  And my heart would melt like water. I'd even think is there any way I can stay longer and if not for the limited vacation time of a newly employed person, I would have.

My daughter can melt my heart like water. When she left for college, I cried and my heart melted because I knew I would miss her.  That lasted for awhile but when I knew she'd always come back home, I stopped crying. Now my heart melts when she comes home knowing that one day she will live away from here, on her own.  And, my heart just melts like water when I think about her, period, because she is a bright and shining star in the universe.

The reason my heart melts in any of the above circumstances has to do with the tremendous amount of love I have for each of the individuals. Extreme love requires many things, one of those is keeping your agreements. Imagine if I had rejected little Gloryanna's arms held out to me. What if I had not gone to see my grandma even though I was only 30 miles away? What if I decided to ignore my daughter's phone messages, texts or facebook messages?  In each of these instances the relationship would probably change because I did not keep unspoken agreements.

What about spoken or written agreements? Many relationships are ruined forever because of breach of agreements.  A husband or wife is unfaithful, an employee embezzles funds, a friend shares a confidence with another.  Many church members have left the church even left the faith because a leader has treated them unfairly.  I know many individuals in each of the above circumstances where they have felt as though their hearts melted like water.  It is as if there is nothing left to care about.  Or it is if nothing else matters more.

Supposedly we love the God of the universe more than any earthly person.  At the sound of His voice, mention of His name, thought of His supreme sacrifice for us, our hearts should melt like water. However, scripture records only three times when hearts melted.  Two times it mentions hearts melting like water and a third time, like wax. Each time it is because people have turned their backs on God or not kept agreements with Him and this has melted their hearts.

Greed played a big part in the first instance.  The man who caused the heart of the people of Israel to melt like water (Joshua 7:5) was Achan.  Israel had been riding high on victory.  God had told them they could not fail if they met His criteria of not taking plunder and burning everything of their enemies. All of Israel agreed to this.  So, they sent a small portion of their army into the next battle. What should have been an easy victory was a dismal disappointment.  It was as if God slapped them in the face, but they had no idea why.

The response of the entire nation was one of total despair, discouragement and depression. “At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water” (Joshua 7:5, NIV). Joshua led by God confronts Achan who admits to taking plunder and burying it under his tent. Achan. His family, all his livestock and possessions are destroyed.

Disobedience, according to Ezekiel, will cause God to turn his back on his people. When that happens, “Every heart will melt and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every knee become as weak as water” (Ezekiel 21:7).

Fear of God turning his back on him, causes David to cry out, “I am poured out like water, and my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.” (Psalm 22:14).

What melted hearts like water and wax in these three instances? Greed, disobedience, fear of God, the knowledge that individuals had not kept their agreements with the God of the universe.

Fine, then, you might say. I just won't make any agreements with God. That works if you don't mind living forever in eternal torment. However, if you plan on living forever in the eternal presence of God, then following him is not an option.  It is part of the agreement you made when you accepted him as savior.

I have to admit, just thinking about the ways I have not kept my agreements with God, turns my heart to water. Vowing again to keep them is intimidating in itself. I am reminded, though, of the ways God has worked in my life and kept his promises to me. As a matter of fact, he sent his son to die a hideous death because he knew I, like Achan, could not keep my all of my promises to him.

Anyone who has been a Christian for awhile knows that following Christ is not a simple matter even though we are living a new life and have the Spirit of God within us. There will certainly be tests of your faith, tests of how well you are keeping your agreements with the Spirit of God Almighty who, by the way, knows if you are His or not.

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5, NIV).

And that, my friend, would melt my heart . . . like water.

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