Wednesday, May 15, 2013

'An undivided heart'

Ezekiel 11:19-21 (NIV)

“…I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
An undivided heart is a fascinating, appealing concept. To the extent the mind can be distinct from the heart, I suppose an undivided heart is attainable. An undivided mind, at least at this stage of my life, seems impossible.

Whenever I’m at home and even one child is awake, I can’t count on getting anything accomplished without an interruption. I’ll start to make food for one kid when another wants water. Packing Jack’s lunch each morning seems to be an invitation for Charlie to come downstairs to get his diaper changed. Max has a fantastic ability to get me started on one task for his benefit and then interrupt me with a second request.

Whenever I’m at work I’m deep into my expertise as a multi-tasker. Heck, half the time when asked to list my job title I just write down “miscellaneous,” and that’s not a complaint. The phone doesn’t often ring for me, but it happens and that requires a complete shift in my attention. This doesn’t even factor all the times my mind wanders toward the same tiny people who interrupt anything I try to accomplish at home.

I don’t consider myself unique, of course. Lots of people have jobs and families and hobbies and social groups and so on. A divided mind is more or less expected of a functioning adult in modern society. It starts in school when teachers and guidance counselors push involvement in music, athletics, drama or other extracurricular activities. They suggest well-rounded students are attractive to college admissions counselors, and they’re probably right.

It’s more of the same once you actually get to college. During my junior year I was president of the fraternity, editor of the student newspaper and, for a month or so, general manager of the campus radio station. I was involved in the startup and leadership of our drumline the same year, but that didn’t require much effort spring semester. I was in the concert band and the show choir band. I worked six hours a week in the music department office. I also was working on maintaining a maturing relationship with a young lady who probably was busier than me on account of her classroom requirements — plus they started construction underneath her dorm room right after spring break. And I also went to class myself, and occasionally did the assigned work.

Again, not unique. Just like the high school guidance counselors, college academic advisers are not afraid to explain how spinning all these plates is simply a prerequisite for life in the real world. And again, they’re probably right. I’ve often said, meaning no disrespect to my classes or professors, the most important lessons of my college years were learned outside the classroom — how to deal with other people, how to be accountable for my commitments and how to stay true to myself regardless of how crazy or busy life became.

And that’s how it comes full circle. The divided mind is a given, but the divided heart? It need not be so. If I’m able to really tap into the focus and clarity God can provide, I can rest my heart in Him and see everything else in my life through that perspective. If I try to be divisive, to love things that conflict with God’s will for me, I invite my own peril. But when I make God’s will my own, everything becomes clear. It makes me a better husband, a better father and simply a better human.

The transformation is part of allowing God to mold me into what I’m supposed to become. I will gladly surrender my heart of stone.

A prayer for May 15:

Lord, I am trying to keep an undivided heart. I know if I establish you as the foundation of my life that everything else will fall into place. I know the hectic nature of being a working parent is supposed to be mentally taxing, but I also trust you to keep me in check. I have faith that if my heart is saved for you above all else, my mind will not lead me astray. Guide me, use me, make me yours. Amen.

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