I just told Asher that his shirt was on backwards. He stuck his hands down his shirt to check for a tag and got distracted. His hands were pressed against his chest and he said, "My heart is beating. I can feel it!" I said, "I hope it is because if it's not then that means you're dead." To which Isaac said, "Yeah, because you don't love anybody. If you don't love anybody, you'll be dead."
I laughed and made a quick mental note to write this post and then told them all about how a heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout your body. If your heart stops working then the blood quits flowing to your fingers and toes and most importantly, your brain. I gave them information about how the brain controls everything in your body and if it stops working, so does the rest of you…
I've always struggled with the meaning of the word heart. I help teach a class at my church based on the concepts found in the book, Sacred Romance, by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis. The book is full of great concepts for everyone to live a fuller life. The class we teach can best be summarized as a place where you can find out who God created you to be and how you fit into his Great Story (insert shameless plug here: Take this class!).
I was asked to teach the class before I knew anything about the book. I quickly read it and found some of the concepts life changing, but hated the book in general. It was full of flowery words and ideas that made me want to throw the book and give up on it. Concepts like getting involved in a "Sacred Romance" with the "Lover of your soul" made me want to puke. I even struggle with commonly used phrases like "asking Jesus to live in your heart." What do those phrases mean?! What is your heart? It's a muscle pumping blood throughout your body! Those phrases were meaningless to me.
I fought with the other teachers to rephrase the concepts and even to rename the class altogether. The first night of the class I teach a concept all about your heart and how to know if it's alive. As I was preparing my notes for this class I decided to make sure it was clear with everyone what we mean when we say the word "heart." I did some research and the word "heart" is used 876 times in the King James Version of the Bible and 558 times in the version I use most often, the New Living Translation. I don't think it is ever used to describe a muscle.
As I struggled to understand this concept with another pastor at our church, he explained to me that we are a highly scientific society and when the word was coined, it came from people who didn't know there was a muscle inside them keeping them alive. They coined the term to mean the essence of a person's being, their life, their passion, their dreams and fears, their thoughts and longings, pain and laughter.
The Bible uses the word in contexts such as:
Deuteronomy 4:29- Search for God with all your heart and you will find him.
Deuteronomy 10:16- Change your heart and stop being stubborn.
Joshua 23:14- Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true.
1 Samuel 16:7- People judge by appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Kings 3:9- Give me an understanding heart.
Psalm 26:2-Test my motives and my heart.
Proverbs 4:23-Guard your heart for it determines the course of your life.
Luke 12:34-Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
So your heart is the place where you can know, find, and understand God. It holds your desires, motives, and future. It's the place God looks to find out who you really are. It's important and even if blood is still being pumped throughout your body keeping your brain alive, your heart, in the Biblical sense, can be dead.
I began to realize that shrugging off these beautiful concepts and being scientific about own heart, was a sign that my heart was on the verge of a coma.
How do you know if your heart is alive? Because moving, working and doing while, they are signs that your blood is flowing, are not signs that your heart is alive. Are you feeling anything these days or are you numb? Are you being creative and having original thoughts of your own? Writing, painting, singing, meditating and praying are all signs of a heart that is living and thriving. And Isaac was right, do you love "anybody" and are you loving them well? That's how you know if your heart is alive.