Is There a Doctor in the Heart?

Heart Doctor
Like all muscles, hearts are strengthened when stretched, torn, broken, and healed. Growing is a difficult process for all muscles, but the heart is especially vulnerable. It is the strongest muscle in the body and has the capacity to feel emotional, as well as physical, pain. No muscle understands “no pain, no gain” better than the heart, and no one understands the heart better than God.

God designed the heart to pump blood through the body. An average person’s heart pumps 1900 gallons of blood every day, an amazing feat which goes unnoticed until it stops. Hearts are also designed to love. God’s message this week was that love’s flow should be as involuntary as those 1900 gallons of blood coursing through my arteries and veins.

The difference between voluntary and involuntary muscles is control. With voluntary muscles, I’m in charge. I decide when and how to use them. I can make those muscles do what I want them to do. Involuntary muscles work without any input from me. My heart pumps blood without my help, and my lungs breathe on their own if all is well. Love flows best when I don’t try to control it. My worry forces love to clot or bleed out, but trusting God allows it to flow unhindered and in ways I could never imagine on my own.

When a heart stops, we panic and cry for help. If a medical emergency is in a public place, we scream, “Is there a doctor in the house??” Smart phones may have changed the way we deal with emergencies, but we still scream out because we don’t know what to do until help arrives. When it comes to love, there is always a Doctor in my heart. God is on call 24/7, and He knows exactly what my heart needs.

God and I both know that heeding His advice when it comes to love would cut down on the number of times I call out for help. He promised He would never leave me, and He is faithful to keep His promises. I promised Him this week that I would stop trying to control what only He can control. I also promised to stop worrying and let Him take care of my heart. If I keep my promises the way He keeps His, I won’t have to scream anymore 🙂

The Rose of Sharon

The Rose of Sharon

The Rose of Sharon

“I am the rose of Sharon, The lily of the valleys.”Song of Solomon 2:1 NASB

I haven’t spent much time in The Song of Solomon, but God used a beautiful flower to draw my attention to chapter two today. Solomon’s open intimacy always makes me blush because I feel as if I’m reading someone else’s love letter or spying on two lovers.

After studying hard all morning, I went to the garden to relax for a moment. The warm sun and gentle breeze embraced me as I talked to God about things that were on my heart.

I’ve always been close to God, but His presence was more powerful than ever as I looked at the rose of Sharon bushes blowing in the breeze and listened to the water flowing in the fountain. He took my breath away!

It reminded me of a time decades ago when our love was brand new. God made it clear that He missed the intimacy we once shared. I wasn’t sure what to think about that, but I couldn’t turn away.

Christ is the rose of Sharon and loves me more than I can begin to imagine. The image of God wanting and waiting for me was embarrassing. How in the world could my Creator be enamored with me? He didn’t let up, so I simply sat in awe of His majesty and soaked in His love.

When I came home, I went to The Song of Solomon and read chapter two hoping to recreate the feeling I had in the garden. It was embarrassing. Again, how could God love me that way? I read it until I believed the beautiful song was meant for me.

Solomon knew God’s love, and his father David was a man after God’s own heart. Both men understood the intimacy God desires, and both describe that love in their songs. I went away from the garden with an exquisite sense of love that Solomon captures beautifully in his song. The level of intimacy he describes takes my heart out of its comfort zone because the level of love God desires does just that.

God wants me to understand the depth of His love, and Solomon’s image of a bride and groom admiring one another did that for me today. Christ loves like a groom longing for His bride. Like any groom, He hopes His bride will feel the same way about Him.

The beauty of my time in the garden with God today was being as vulnerable as I’ve ever been in my life. In that moment of openness, I knew I was loved and cherished as only a bride can be. I finally saw myself as the bride God bids me to be. There aren’t words to describe how that affected my heart. Suffice it to say that I’m not who I was, but I am who God created me to be. I’m thankful I was in that beautiful moment long enough to know that I can never settle for less again.

I took a bloom from that Rose of Sharon bush and decided to press it so I could keep it as a reminder of God’s lessons today. I opened the heavy Impressionist art book by my television and had to laugh out loud when I saw my baby picture smiling up at me. I put it in the book because, like my heart, it needed a little smoothing out.

I marvel at God’s ways and love the how He uses images to get His lessons across to me. The smiling baby me was a powerful image that reminded me God has always loved me and always will. I pray my love for Him will always be like the bride in The Song of Solomon. He deserves the very best when it comes to love, and so do I 🙂

Baby Gigi

Love + Grace = Peace

Love is the first step in finding peace. As incomprehensible as God’s love is, it is the beginning of everything and must be the place from which my heart starts its journey toward peace. Grace enters into the journey in the life of Christ. God became one of us and extended grace to a world in need of connection.

Grace became the glue that connected God’s love and the Holy Spirit’s peace in our hearts. Christ made that connection possible when He died and rose from the grave in the most amazing plan ever. Grace is more than amazing; it is more than any word we have in our vocabularies. It is what brings love and peace together. Just as the Trinity are three and one, so are love, grace and peace beautifully connected. They do not exist apart from one another, but they are three separate entities.

I don’t pretend to understand the Trinity, but I feel Its effect upon my life. I can’t define love, grace, or peace; but I know what they do to my heart. I cannot imagine life without the love of God, the grace of Christ, or the peace of the Holy Spirit. I know when my heart is out of balance it is because I allow other than love, grace, and peace to be present in it. Love, grace, and peace will step aside when hate, lust, or discord enter in. They will not share or force their way into my heart’s space.

The beauty of love, grace, and peace is that they create a beautiful harmony that cannot be found anywhere except in a heart tuned to them. Hearts can find love and peace for brief periods, but without the grace Christ offers, it is only a temporary possession that dissipates quickly and must be sought over and over again. Christ’s grace provides a sweet Comforter in the Holy Spirit who coexists with me. There is a world of difference between possessing and coexisting, and as big a difference between the peace I can find on my own and the peace Christ’s grace brings. The peace of the Holy Spirit is like having a beautiful friend who hears my heart and never leaves my side. Peace that possesses is a temporary high that feels good for a moment and then goes away.

My peace is disrupted when I allow my desires to override God’s will. God is all powerful, but He will not force His love, His Son’s grace, or His Spirit’s peace upon anyone. He knows I must experience discord occasionally to appreciate the difference His peace offers. Last week, I got carried away with my selfish wants and found myself floundering and flustered. I know prayer is the path to peace, so I did a lot of praying. What happened is what always happens when I get tired of spinning out of control and ask God to help. He extended love and grace, and I surrendered to His peace.

There is no verse more comforting to me than the sweet simple words of Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NASB)

I suppose I will veer off the path of peace as long as I live, but it comforts my heart greatly to know that peace is only a prayer away. Now, if I can only get better at praying a little faster each time 🙂

Redefining Fire

Flower in the AshesThere’s wreckage on the ground

With ashes all around.

Rains extinguish the flame.

Now, nothing is the same.

God’s love draws me nearer.

The path becomes clearer.

Reaching out with His hand,

He bids me to stand.

The redefining fire

Lifts me from the mire,

My heart finally free

To see the real me.

 

 

The Journey’s Ups & Downs

The Top of the World!

The Top of the World!

While having lunch with friends this week, the waitress spilled a large glass of ice water on the floor beside me. It made a loud noise, so she was the center of attention for an awkward moment. I told her it was okay, and she smiled; but I know she wanted to crawl into a corner. That’s what awkward moments do to all of us. I am painfully familiar with awkward moments and have had far more than my share, so I learned at an early age to make the best of them. I quickly made fun of myself before anyone else had the chance or let Pollyanna make lemonade from the lemons life threw at me. 

The water from that overturned glass immediately disappeared into the carpet, and the ice quickly melted away. No harm was done, and life went back to normal. As I looked at the wet carpet, I couldn’t help but wish the same were true in matters of the heart. Once it’s broken or poured out, life can never be the same. That’s a good thing, but it’s a painful mess for a while. Each bump, break, spill, or near miss strengthens my heart and brings me nearer to God. He knows brokenness and emptiness enable my heart to climb or come down from the summits on this journey. It’s human nature to want to quit when my heart is hurting, but I’m learning that giving up doesn’t have to follow giving out. Christ will help when the burden is more than I can bear. 

Pride tells me to quit, but love bids me to reach out for help. It’s good to do what I can on my own, but it’s better to let love lead me to a place of accepting help when I need it. If I don’t, I’ll give up each time I give out. No one would attempt Mount Everest without an experienced sherpa, but many walk through life afraid to ask for help. Walking in God’s kingdom is more challenging and takes far longer than a trip up the mountain, so He gives a beautiful Guide to help us along the way.

Reaching the summit isn’t for the faint of heart because as soon as the view takes my breath away, I’m left with the prospect of going back down. That’s a more daunting and more dangerous journey than the climb upward. God reminded me in His lessons this week that ups and downs are part of the journey, and I must get used to them if I want to live and love as He desires. The beauty of being at the bottom is knowing there is no where to go but up. My favorite Psalm of Ascent is 121. I cannot look to the mountain when I am standing on top of it. I am invincible on the summit, and I forget I need help. That is the most dangerous place for my heart to be. Whether I come down carefully or in one fell swoop like the water in that glass, I am in the perfect position for remembering from whence comes my help.

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.”

God guards my going out and coming in and my going up and coming down. The journey will always have its ups and downs, but I take sweet comfort in knowing that Christ left a great Guide to help in both.

The beauty of the summit.

Looking at the summit. (Beijing 2008 Olympic Games)