Monday, May 11, 2009

To Hold Someone's Heart

   Over lunch with some friends a few days ago, one of us observed that human beings seemed to be almost infinite in their capacity and variety to hurt one another. As I pondered this statement for some time, my mind was drawn to the power wielded by our words, particularly in the context of our relationships with those who are or may become nearest and dearest to us.

   When someone voices words of kindness or affection to us, they are essentially asking us to trust that their words reflect their inward intent towards us. They ask us to believe that their words are true, without any hint of guile. And indeed, at this point we must pause and ask ourselves, what does it mean for one's words to be "true"? The answer necessitates the involvement of the definition of truth - "that which describes things as they really are". Thus, with words of kindness and love, they ask us to believe that those words describe the intent of their inmost spirit towards us as it really is. And in doing so, whether either person realizes it or not, the consequences become serious; for we trust them with that which is most precious and sensitive - our hearts.

   Modern culture and media most commonly uses the term 'heart' in connection with one's emotions and feelings, among other things. In this context, the promulgation of myth and the potential for abuse is enormous; I am reminded of the saying that "nothing is as widely believed as that which is least understood". What does it truly mean to ask for someone's heart, and in winning their trust, to take their heart into our hands? And, on the flip side of the coin, what does it mean to give our hearts into the hands of the one who asks for it?

   While looking up the meaning of the word 'heart' in many languages, I found the most insight provided in the ancient Hebrew, which uses the word 'lev' [1]. While the ancient Hebrews viewed the heart as the centre of emotion, they also understood it to be the centre of thought; there was no dichotomy with the mind residing in the brain and emotions ascribed to the heart. Instead, the 'heart' was perceived to be the centre of one's being, holding all thoughts, both of the mind as well as emotion. For them, it was the very locus of all of one's being.

   If this is indeed the perspective of the Bible, then the implications of being entrusted with someone's heart are very serious indeed. For when we trust someone with our heart, we give them that which encompasses our most fragile sensitivities, thoughts and emotions - all that defines us and makes us vulnerable. The phrase "my heart in your hands" takes on a very literal meaning indeed; it is like cupping water in one's hands. If you've never tried doing that, I suggest you try it now. In the light of this analogy, the words 'love' and 'commitment' take on new and serious dimensions - the one who loves appreciates the fragility of that which he/she holds in their hands and is committed to keeping their hands together, otherwise the other's heart will fall and shatter, or be spilt on the ground.

   Without this understanding, the phrase 'I love you', perhaps the most used and abused phrase known to mankind, becomes a horrific instrument of destruction. How awful to say such a thing without meaning it, to convince another of one's love and take their heart into one's hands, only to open those hands when one is no longer interested! How terrible is the one who voices words of love and commitment to another, only to discard them when someone else comes along! How selfish to play with another's spirit for one's own mental and emotional gratification, and then spill that heart on the ground without regard! It is perhaps one of the worst acts that one human being can perpetrate upon another, to violate another person in such manner. For as bad as it is in which one violates another's body, even worse is that which violates another's soul. Thus, betrayal of any form becomes the act of those who do not comprehend what it means to hold another's heart in their hands.

   Having said all this, what about the happiness of those who do understand these truths, and is there anyone into whose hands we can place our hearts? For when properly understood, giving one's 'heart' into another's hands and holding their 'heart' in ours is possibly one of the greatest privileges of the human existence. I will probably pen my thoughts on this matter in the coming posts. Until then, have a good week and God bless!

- The Wisdom Seeker

[1] Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings: Heart ~ lev

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Passionate Commitment

I was reading through the 18th and 19th chapters of the Second Book of the Kings some days ago. King Hezekiah was ruling over Judah in Jerusalem, and Sennacherib, King of Assyria had sent a massive army against Jerusalem. He had sent an extensively worded threat against Jerusalem's populace through his chief of staff (2 Kings 18:19-37 and 2 Kings 19:10-13). In response, God delivers an even more impressive verdict against the Assyrian King through the prophet Isaiah (2 Kings 19:20-34). As I was reading through God's response, I was struck by one sentence in the passage:

"The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven's Armies will make this happen!" (2 Kings 19:31, New Living Translation)

I read that sentence over and over. Nearing the end of his speech, there was a potent fury that could be felt in the words of the prophet, as he voiced the words of his Lord and Master. My mind was brough to a standstill by the words 'passionate commitment', expressed as 'zeal' by older translations. While a strong phrase in itself, it was made even more so by the Person it was being ascribed to - The Lord of Heaven's Armies. I thought about that for some time. While many statements are made about the nature of God throughout the Bible, this was not something I had thought about before - God is "passionately committed". I was seeing an aspect of His character anew, just as the jeweler's light shining on a diamond from the right angle shows off a different facet to perfection.

"Passionately committed. My Father is passionately committed". My mind began to explode as those two sentences took hold and began a chain reaction of thought. God's passionate commitment speaks of a depth of action that flows from a depth of being, a determined, tremendous and unstoppable power that makes Him the omnipotent being that He is. I thought of His passionate commitment to His Word, promises, creation, righteousness, justice, judgement, peace, mercy, forgiveness, deliverance, healing, restoration...the list is endless. And I realized and knew that as His child, it applied to me as well. This great God who calls Himself my beloved Father was, is and always will be passionately committed to his son, who loves Him. As I thought of the implications, I wanted to write them down.

My Father is passionately committed in His relationship to me. When He says 'I love you', He means it with all His heart; He will never retract and utter the words 'I don't love you anymore'. He is passionately committed to the sacred romance between us. From my first moment to last, there is no limit to which He will not go in His pursuit of my heart; Psalm 139 is an awesome testament to this. He was so passionate in His commitment to love me, that He demonstrated it in the ultimate act - sending His Son to die on the Cross for my sin.

He is passionately committed in His protection of me; there is not one promise of guardianship from Genesis to Revelation that He will not fulfil. In the heat of battle, in the depths of sorrow, in the burning hot days and bitter cold nights of the soul, He is there, watching over me. When my heart is broken, He is unfailing in His passionate commitment to grieve with me and for me, to pick up the pieces and heal. When I have been wronged, He is there as defense, prosecution, judge, jury and executioner.

He is passionately committed to my present and my future; He will see me through to the end of my Master's degree and beyond. "The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven's Armies will make this happen!" He is passionately committed to His blessing in my life, in every way imaginable.

He is passionate in His commitment to my growth and pursuit of wisdom. There is no question that I can ask that He will not tire of answering. There is no explanation that He will not patiently give. There is no subject, course or topic that He cannot teach me, for they are all expressions of His infinite wisdom.

If I have been able to show any commitment to anything in life, it is only because I have learned that commitment from Him. My Lord. My King. My Rock. My Redeemer. My Saviour. My Teacher. My Guide. My Guardian. In all this and more, You are passionately committed to me. May I be as passionate in my commitment to You.

- The Wisdom Seeker