Bad heart vs. good heart

Are you a willing heart?

It’s one of those questions I wanted to answer with an enthusiastic yes but had to hesitate. A small meltdown I’d had last week came to mind. My children were testing my patience, and I was tired of all this settle-in-place stuff. In full adult tantrum form, I peered up at the ceiling and informed God He needed to return everything to the way it used to be.

 A pang hit my heart, and a quiet, gentle thought passed through my mind, “What if all this brings one soul to know Jesus?”

All of the selfish anger that had my shoulders pinned to my ears melted away. Why should my being inconvenienced take precedence over God moving in a personal way? It’s times like this, when I’m convicted of my feelings or behaviors, that I realize how far I am from being a willing heart. It’s a daily battle against my flesh, seeking its own desires and left unchecked it would spread like fire, leaving not only myself in ashes but also others.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. – Matthew 26:41

There’s an old Cherokee parable about a brave telling his grandson about a battle that wages within people. He describes the sides as two wolves. One is evil consisting of anger, greed, self-pity, remorse, sorrow, guilt, self-pride, ego, jealousy, and lies. The other is joy consisting of peace, hope, patience, kindness, humility, compassion, generosity, truth, and faith. The grandson asks, “Which wolf wins?” and the grandfather replies, “The one you feed.”

black wolves

 When Josiah rose to become king of Israel, the people’s hearts had become lax. They had let the temple fall into disarray and had forsaken God. They worshipped idols and other gods. The Bible reads in 2 King 22:2, “He [Josiah] did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” He sent men to fix up the temple. As his workers went all Chip Gains on demo day, they uncovered a sacred scroll and brought it to their king. Josiah read it and tore his clothes. His eyes were opened to Israel’s deep betrayal of God. Gathering everyone, King Josiah read the scriptures and the people wept over their misdeeds.

It sounds like a sad story, but one of the many things I love about God is that He likes a happy ending. After hearing the truth, the people of Israel rededicated themselves to the Lord. Because their hearts were responsive and humbled, they not only avoided God’s wrath, God instructed them to throw a party! Once they’d destroyed the idols, they gathered together and celebrated the Passover.

God rejoices when we open our hearts for examination. We don’t need to hang our heads in shame at what we’ve done, or weep at how far we’ve fallen. God doesn’t dwell on those things. He’s washed us clean. To Him, we are white as snow. He wants us to celebrate because we’ve found the way.

We can choose the right path and climb back into his open arms. 

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