The heart. Definition: An incredible muscle in our body that works its tail off to keep us alive. Interesting facts: The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute; 100,000 times a day; 3,600,000 times a year; and 2.5 billion times during a lifetime. Though weighing only 11 ounces on average, a healthy heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. A kitchen faucet would need to be turned on all the way for at least 45 years to equal the amount of blood pumped by the heart in an average lifetime. During an average lifetime, the heart will pump nearly 1.5 million gallons of blood—enough to fill 200 train tank cars. Grab a tennis ball and squeeze it tightly: that’s how hard the beating heart works to pump blood. Interesting.
When I was working a temporary job in Houston a few years ago, I had full coverage insurance. I used that opportunity to have a complete heart checkup. They put me on a monitor, a treadmill, scans, x-rays and more. The whole time asking me why was I there. I just wanted to know that my heart was solid.
When they were done the report came back. Physically I was in great shape, the heart was good. No problems, and no reason to worry.
My concern since then is still my heart, but it is not so much the muscle sweating in my chest, but the emotional, gut feeling, driving force that works as hard or harder as its physical brother. It is that deep inside feeling, that over the top elation, the ground pounding sadness, the quiet comfort.
My heart hurts when I hear stories of loneliness, abandon, loss and confusion. I can be moved to tears just watching a show or even a commercial on television. This morning as we were leaving our men's Bible study, one of our guys told how he was worried about his aging father -- how his dad was getting older and falling a lot. In his eyes you could see the pain his heart was feeling. He was asking what to do, how to help, how to be helpful without disrespect to his dad. He said, "Next week we are going to have to pray for him." Well my buddy and I just smiled and said in unison, "Let's pray right now." And we did. The heartfelt joy of prayer is new for me in the last few years; sharing it is awesome, and I dig it.
The hearts of children are a big part of my life with our ministry today. I love experiencing the overflow of love from the unspoiled places they carry inside. They will also share the deepest pain. Kids will say what they feel, what they think, what they have experienced and so often God speaks through them. We miss a lot when we do not listen to kids as we look into their eyes.
My kids are all going through some tough times in their lives. New schools, new friends, new experiences. It is so hard sometimes to not just swoop in and rescue them. We try to make sure we cover everything, begin and end everything, struggles to victories, with prayer. It doesn't always take away the hurts and provide immediate answers, but knowing God is listening and that we’ll eventually see His answer is comforting to my heart. The struggles can remain, but faith is the corner.
Zig Ziglar was an amazing motivational speaker who recently passed away. He was incredible. I read his books and went to see him when he was speaking in town. Millions of people took to heart his teachings and changed their lives forever. Once when I had the chance to meet him in person I had my Bible with me and asked him to autograph it. He was a mighty man of and for God. I was seeking to really make a difference in the world, to fill a huge hole in my heart with meaning. He wrote, "To Thomas, Romans 10:9," Zig Ziglar. Romans 10:9 says, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." That day, that gift of a specific Scripture verse began to help me fill that space in my heart.
So I guess the thread I am trying to weave with here is that the heart you feel with is real, important and needs care. We are all designed perfectly to do something amazing. All the hardships and victories, the good and the bad, all those experiences have prepared each of us to do something incredible. For me that journey began when I prayed that prayer Zig Ziglar shared with me so long ago.
Yes, the chicken fried bacon in Snook, Texas, is incredible. I love a whole plate of sweet potato fries from anywhere. A burger with everything on it is my favorite meal. Are these the best choices for me today if I am trying to care for the heart muscle in my chest? Not always. I know to be careful, smart.
Ah, but it is the emotional heart inside that is always hungry for more. The new year is upon us. Seize the day, don't wait. Ask God into your life and begin the adventure you never thought possible. The one your heart is seeking in those still and quiet moments -- today it begins. Romans 10:9.