One evening when my kids were little, I was flipping through TV stations and landed on a Christian channel. I got called away and left the TV on, thinking I’d be right back.By the time I returned, the program had switched to something new. My daughter was in the room frantically scribbling numbers onto a piece of paper, almost breaking down in tears.”What are you doing?” I asked.”I’m writing down the number on the screen!” she exclaimed. “It says ‘Call now because the children need your help!’ but I can’t write the numbers down fast enough.”I saw the over-sized numbers “1800” printed on the page, the next number scribbled out and replaced with another.”I can help you write them all down,” I offered.She handed me the pen and paper, hands shaking. “Quick! We have to call now!””It’s not that urgent,” I assured her.”Yes, it is—look at the children! “I was well acquainted with footage of starving children with distended tummies, flies buzzing around their eyes.I had grown old; my heart, calloused.But it was the first time my daughter had ever seen the need, and her first instinct was to respond. To give.My daughter was young; her heart, open.How are we to respond with the same kind of heartache that Jesus feels when He, too, sees children with distended tummies—and then sees me, sitting on my bed, casually flipping TV channels?How are old, hardened, calloused hearts re-sensitized?Jason of Connecting to Impact is hosting a book club discussion of The Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns. I’m not reading the book, but Jason’s post “What Demands Response for You?” brought back the memory of watching that program with my daughter…and got me thinking.Jason wrote:
As we begin to see [God’s] greatness and goodness, His love and grace–we must respond. There are many different triggers for each of us to open our eyes, but this is what God desires. He wants us to see Him and then we have an appropriate response for the world’s brokenness…guilty consciences are not going to sustain our giving and loving. We have to have changed hearts.
I may be old. My heart may even be calloused.But I have hope, knowing what God can do with old hearts:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
I remember my nephew watching the 9-11 rescue efforts on television and wanting to empty out his piggy bank and give all the money to the Salvation Army. I was so proud of him, I bought him a present. Sometimes I think our hearts aren’t so much calloused as they are distracted by the cares of this world. The immediate needs of raising small children are sometimes so urgent in themselves, it feels like an impossible choice deciding which urgent, immediate need to address. I’m at a point in my life where I’m now enjoying the freedom and flexibility to respond to some of these kinds of things, trying to keep in step with the Spirit’s prompting to know how, when, and where.
Yes Ann – a new heart and eyes to see – His eyes.
Charity Singleton says
Yes, old hearts of stone replaced with hearts of flesh. A wonderful promise indeed.
Beautiful, hopeful reminder, Ann.
I found your site because you left a very sweet note on my blog the other day. Thank you for that. Looking forward to reading more of your prose here.
Janis@Open My Ears Lord says
What a tender and beautiful heart your daughter has! And the empathy you showed her by saying, “I will help you.” There could have been a dozen other responses that would have changed her pure intentions and blinded her eyes. Your heart is not calloused my friend!
Michelle DeRusha says
I read “The Hole in our Gospel,” and that many, many statistics about hunger, illness and death that Stearns lists really got to me. My heart had been hardened over the years, too — it took seeing those numbers in black and white for me to open my eyes again (Stearns’ book is what compelled me to launch my year-long Shop-Not Project). Anyway, we all need to refresh our eyes and see with those of a child.
Love that Ezekiel verse, by the way.
Megan at SortaCrunchy says
Tears are sliding down my cheeks as I imagine your daughter in this scene and think of my own daughter, tender-hearted as I am. Though my heart breaks at the need, I can so easily shut if off . . . in some ways, force myself to shut off the response because the need is so overwhelming.
That’s one book I haven’t yet read, but I’ve read many that God is urging to speak the same message.
May our hearts continue to be made tender and easily broken. And yes, may we RESPOND to the ache.
Oh, my goodness. That last was one of the scriptures I shared with my son last night when he came downstairs, traumatized by reading the book of Revelation. They are so tender, aren’t they?
I’ve kind of been following some of the posts on The Hole in the Gospel. I’ll have to go read this one. Thanks for sharing, Ann.