Love the Lord your God with all your Heart
Deuteronomy 6:5 and Luke 10:27
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good Heart
If you confess with your mouth and believe in your Heart…
"All the same," said the Scarecrow, "I shall ask for brains instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one. "I shall take the heart," returned the Tin Woodman; "for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world."
L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
I remember where I was and what I was doing: sitting in a chair, surrounded by 200 men at a Conference/Retreat event in Colorado, listening to the speaker talk about men needing to “get their hearts back”. As he spoke, my mind began to wonder and a dialogue within me began… a conversation that I, at the time, assumed I was having with myself. It was a bit like going to a restaurant that plays music but you are tuned into someone else so you don’t hear the music. Then you catch a note or line of a song you like and the music becomes louder than the person speaking. That is what happened to me in that moment.
As I drifted from the audible words the speaker was sharing and tuned into the internal words broadcasting through my mind, questions rose to the forefront,
Why haven’t I heard this before?
Is this right, is this true?
Then another question arose from within,
I wonder how many passages there are about this heart stuff?
That was one of my traditional methods used to measure the Biblical weight and significance of any subject… how many verses are there related to it. So in order to answer this intrusive question that had surfaced in the middle of this conference session, I flipped to the back of my NIV Study Bible’s concordance—you know the place in the back of a Bible you go to in order to find a quick reference to the verse that you kinda know and sorta recall but aren’t sure where it is actually located? When I flipped the last thin page and my eyes fell to my word, Heart, I was stunned… there was over three columns of verses, each highlighting the word and offering an excerpt of the phrase within the bible verse that referenced the word HEART.
The print was tiny mind you, 8 point font, and covered one full page (3 columns) and onto the next. Add an “s” to make it hearts and the references started up again well into another column. Now, I don’t know about you, but in my limited scholarly way, I tend to apply this small validating exercise to the scriptures in order to determine if the subject at hand is a major theme and of significance, or not. Major means lots of scripture references. And therefore HEART qualified.
I was stuck in that moment observing how often the Bible uses the term Heart and puzzled that I did not know this important discovery until now. There were more than 200 passages, and this was not an exhaustive concordance mind you. I saw “heart” passages from Genesis to Revelation; the Old Testament, then Jesus references in the Gospels and then chapter and verse references His disciples wrote in their letters to the first century believers! It was amazing… all were referencing the Heart.
I remember sitting there stunned and in that moment silently yelling…
Oh my gosh! I think this is really important!
I left that session and the weekend awakened, disrupted and wanting more.
When I returned home, my quest to research the subject of heart was before me and my game plan was simple; look up all these passages in the Bible and uncover what they say. After a few months I found myself over the theological microscope looking at sample after sample, Petri dish after Petri dish, in order to observe microscopically the treasure that had for far to long escaped my naked eye. This was going to require extensive examinations of both the Greek and Hebrew language and a commitment to slow, meticulous research.
With every exploration, it was becoming clearer and clearer to me, weighty is the heart in scripture and critical is the heart to God... much more so than our behavior. Author, Ted Tripp, offers us this explanation in his book, Shepherding a Childs Heart,
"The scripture teaches that the heart is the control center for life… Proverbs 4:23 'Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.'
The heart is a well from which all the issues of life gush forth. The behavior a person exhibits is an expression of the overflow of the heart."2
Not only were the passages that contained the word heart coming clearer to me but a much larger picture was starting to emerge. For me, the overwhelming conclusion that God was leading me to was that...
I can’t live in these two realms with two kingdoms without my heart, my whole heart.
I do believe this; recovering your heart is the most significant thing a person can do. Partnering with God for the great recovery of your heart is the key to happiness. And along the journey, we, like the Tin Man, will come to know; evil will do its worst to have us live without a heart... heartless. God will do His will and His way to see our hearts whole again... whole and set free!
2 Ted Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen: Shepherd Press, 1995