My heart is never big enough…
It’s true, for me anyway, my heart is simply never big enough. Life seems so full of so much that is going on and I just feel like everything I care for, hurt for, and long for could never all fit in my heart. Of course I am not talking about the organ, the muscle that pumps blood everywhere. I am talking about that odd use of the word heart that we use to create a preverbal home for our passions. It’s the connecting point between what is real (our thoughts, possessions and day to day struggles, and what are unknown, the soul and spirit of a human). It’s a fascinating thing that North American culture has created, this obsession with the “heart.” Just as the heart organ is one of the central elements to life, so the heart of our passions is the central element to our being. It has been said before that… “Home is where the heart is”, “let’s get to the heart of the issue”, “I love ____________ with all my heart”. (Fill in with whatever you like there)The identification we associate with our heart of passions is deep, meaningful and often a sign of how serious we are about something. I listen to a band called BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE, let’s just say they’re not a band your grandparents (or at least mine anyway) will enjoy. But one of their songs has always had a special spot in my heart… get it; the use of heart there is just furthering my previous point. The song begins with, with the line “My heart is never big enough, breathing just barley gets be by, for a time.” I am not sure why, but that line has always been able to grab my attention and bring out a certain sense of “need”. A need, to be sure that can only be filled by the Holy Spirit.
I once overheard a conversation between a freshmen student and a professor of 23 years. The student was participating in a conversation about Moses encountering a Theophany (God revealing himself) at a burning bush (Exodus 3). The Prof, began to explain why this was one of his favourite stories in the bible, that it portrayed not just the power of God, but His control as well. He talked at length about his deduction of what or how Moses would have felt, and why he reacted the way he did. Finally the prof stopped and said “I just wish I could encounter God in that same kind of way, it would have been amazing.” The class ended and one student stopped to talk to our prof as we were leaving I began to linger after I heard the student say, “I think it’s kinda dumb you want to see God that way.” The experienced prof, having dealt with many obnoxious and overzealous students in the past questioned (nicely), “Why wouldn’t I?” The student replied, “Has he not sent you his Holy Spirit? If you are a Christian you have that God in you, why would you simply want to encounter him when he could do anything you can dream of in your life, right here, right now. You have so much more than Moses ever could.” I left after that, I wasn’t sure if the prof would argue, punch the kid in face, or just simply accept the student’s words and move on. Never-the-less, it got me thinking that day (and days after… obviously) about God living in me.
The most generic Christian words of advice on “how to become a Christian” are “just ask God into your HEART.” But what does that really imply. Well as far as I can see (and experience) it is a two-fold answer. The first fold is to be emptied… God cannot live in you unless you are empty of you. (Mark8:35, Luke 9:24) Let’s be honest God is big, and my heart cannot contain him and what I want. So, instead of trying to cram; is it not better to just remove our heart and take the heart of the father… a heart that holds the world? The second fold is that very process, the filling. Most of us don’t let God fill much more than an hour or two during Sunday or mid week programming… But God wants more, he wants to fill EVERYTHING. Psalm 8:1 actually says that even just the majesty of his name fills the entire earth.
The debate then in our minds becomes this; my wants, desires, imaginations feeble creations – vs. God, creator and sustenance of life, controller of death, grace, mercy, forgiveness, LIFE. We can look at this and say, “oh no, I want God he is so much more.” Then turn and ask him why he hasn’t got us that pay raise at work or that new TV. that our friends just bought. But if God asked you to give up even the little things in your life, would you? Could you? Your second car, your job status, your new summer outfits, your 6 extra pairs of shoes, your gaming system. Let’s up the bar, what if God asked you to live in the same conditions as inner city First Nations people? What if he asked you to forgive your parent for abusing you, what if… what if… what if… what if he told you to stop bickering behind your breath as you read this and accept that this is isn’t from a self-righteous 22 year old youth pastor intern but rather words inspired by the God who made you, and gave you everything you have. (Yes I am that self-righteous 22 year old youth pastor intern… but I know some stuff, really!)
It hurts doesn’t it, reality. Realizing that if I am going to say that God is even anything, if any of what scripture says is true that God by demand of who is MUST. BE. EVERYTHING. But if I say, “no God, my desires are better, my plan is more logical, my heart is big enough.” Then is God really living in us? Do we have his Spirit? Do we truly know what his power is, or what it can do? It can change everything, it can turns murders into revival preachers, prostitutes into godly mothers, abusive fathers into mentors for young men. His power raised the dead, his power healed the sick, his power can change everything, but we will let it touch anything in our hearts. Our heart of passions are like engine when we are of an age that we can process hurt, we have turned the key and started the engine… the wear and tear, is now inevitable. We try to maintain it by doing oil changes, swapping out some of the bad for some good. We check the belts to make sure we are not pushing things too far or that we aren’t making hasty decisions. We do everything we can to protect and sustain our engines life but eventually… it must die. Sin grabs hold; it wears on our spark plugs, and plugs up our injectors and causes computer failures and before we know it our dash is covered with warning lights. But what if we could do an engine swap, what if we could get a brand new engine put in that has the horsepower to deal with life’s biggest problems, what if we could have an engine that never dies? In fact it never even shuts off! Its fuel is unlimited, and there is no wear or tear ever to be seen on it. (It’s like a Cummins Diesel on steroids, if you know trucks you get that). You got it, you’re not dumb. We need the father’s heart.
I’ve heard preachers say, “God can make you new again, God can restore you.” I ask why? Why would I want God to patch together this pathetic little engine, why would I want another empty promise to myself that I will change? Why just look at the burning bush when you can have the God that caused live in you, you could even have his heart.
My heart is never big enough, breathing just barely gets by, my desires and dreams are so feeble, my engine will keep dying again and again. My mind so weak, so rattled, always so broken, but when I confess with my mouth my sins, when God forgives me and he helps me empty my life, when he pulls out that shot-down ol’ ratty engine, THEN, and only then can I be filled.