I have this little construction paper heart that I keep in my Bible. When I have a hard time understanding a passage, I use this as a bookmark and come back to it later. As you can see, it’s a bit torn but I keep it because it’s symbolic to me of a new heart in Christ. I’ll come back to this paper heart in a minute, but first I’d like to tell you a bit about my story.
From the time I was a teen, I was taught a very black and white Christianity. It was simple enough to understand. There was “good” and there was “bad”. Point blank. If you did “good” God would bless you. If you did bad, God would curse you. God’s love for me, in my eyes, was totally conditional and was based simply upon my own obedience. Needless to say, I did not develop a healthy relationship with my Creator from the get go. It was a love/hate relationship and I could not see God’s concern for me as being constant. When I failed, God’s love failed as well.
So, here’s how I relate my story to Exodus 20. We have these 10 commandments. They are just and timeless – and came in pretty handy for a people who just came out of slavery and had no system of law or justice of their own.
But out of all things, they were written in – stone… Stone can make a great foundation. Stone can build walls. Stone can make tombstones or statues that last for years.
But stone can’t feel empathy. It can’t reach out a helping hand to pull someone up. It can’t wipe away tears, speak kind words, or embrace. In fact, for the most part all stone does is just sit – cold, useless, idle, and gathering moss.
When I think of the condition of my heart towards God before I came here to this church, I have to say it was pretty much stone. All Christianity was to me was following rules, legalism, and trying to be good enough to “earn” God’s love. There was no tenderness, sense of communion with other Christians, joy, peace – nothing like that.
But slowly, I am learning what the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah meant when they prophezied that God would one day remove His peoples’ hearts of stone, and replace them with ones of flesh. – I can’t say I fully understand what that means, but I know that’s where I am headed.
And this little paper heart here – it has some traveling to do. It will eventually become faded and ripped. But as it does, I have the confidence of knowing that my own heart will stretch and heal – and no longer be made of stone.