Wednesday, December 01, 2004


My Heart in His Hands

One man touches a switch. Carefully timed explosives turn supports into dust and what was, two seconds ago, some architect's pride is now collapsing in on itself. The process is surprisingly tidy when done right. Cut the heart out of the building and you end up with a neat heap of rubble which can be loaded into trucks and hauled away. Forgotten.

"Guard your heart," the Bible says. I have done this assiduously for my 50-odd years. No one gets a piece of me because I've experienced what happens when they do. I've also seen the results that come from the process carried to its conclusion in people who haven't been able to guard their hearts. Blown by the wind whichever way it's blowing.

I've also seen the results when people react and fight back. Fighting attracts fighting.

So, you don't want to resist to the point of creating opposition. Nor do you want to just lay down and get walked on. Neither technique protects a soul.

I've been more subtle. Steel inside, marshmallow outside so that the attacks are turned aside without the attacker really knowing what's happening. That way there's nothing to inflame further attack. The inner steel keeps me from being laid out as a doormat, and holds me upright long enough to take the best route I know.

Departure. Go away. Leave the scene of the crime, go away and nurse the wounds in silence and peace. People rub salt in the wounds. "You shouldn't take it so hard. You're too sensitive." Thanks for your help, folks. I learned to do it my way. Take a walk, read a book.

Or jump on myself before the others can do it. The best way to solve a problem is to keep it from happening at all. If I attack myself, I stay away from the trouble spots. Don't get involved because that invites problems.

Guard the heart. It's all I have, and it seems that it is what others want to break.

What is a broken spirit? Christians talk a lot about being broken. Cowboys talk about breaking horses. Some people do this better than others; the desired goal is a horse that can still think but follow directions too. Most of the time, people aren't given the same respect. The Army takes boys and turns them into "men" by bashing them to bits and then reassembling the bits into an Army man.

Creativity gets left out in the remaking process. The Christian army seems to have forgotten than God is, first, creative.

We don't have to be broken. We're already broken. I'm so far down in the hole that God has to lift me up before I can even see my feet. Yah, I guarded my heart, but the self-abnegation that was part of the process was extremely crude and there wasn't much heart left after 50 years. Still, it was all I had. I didn't think God was interested.

Wrong-O, Buzzard-Breath! God really is interested. When I learned that I started running. "You... want my heart? I don't trust you!" But God patiently showed me how I'd handled the job. Lots of desert, lots of ice, lots of bare rock. God keeps His horses in a big corral; they're safe in there but can still run. And run. And run. Until they get tired. Legs trembling, the horse finally stands as the cowboy approaches with the dreaded saddle.

God doesn't want a trail plug that will just follow the tail of the horse ahead of it. Over a cliff, if that's where the group goes. It turns out that--this is a surprise only to the average American mass-produced Christian--God wants individuals. He MADE individuals. He could have made everyone identical if that's what He wanted, and He'd have had a lot easier time of it if He had.

So... I'm broken. Stopped. Life per se is over. God holds my heart between His powerful hands. One move and it turns to dust, and everything I've learned and lived loses its support, and all that's left is a neat heap of rubble. He has that power. No one has had that power over me before.

He has done me the kindness of giving me the most wonderful gift I've ever received: the Holy Spirit. He forms a living shield around me, guarding my heart. He shows me history. He has protected me for all of my life, unbeknownst to me for much of that period. He has invisibly guided my steps to places where I could learn the lessons I needed, and has kept truly awful things from happening to me that would have caused me to give up. When I did get to the permanent quit point He guided me to the one place where I would be heard, and also would speak in a way that I could hear, and He prepared my heart to hear the message.

"Come back to Me. You're a mess but I'll help you. You wanted to run, I let you run. Do you still want to run, or do you want to try something new?" Being busted flat it was easy to try something new, but once some life started to come back to the dead zones, questions came up.

Guard your heart. I'd proven myself to be a curious mix of incompetent and masterful at this. I'm still here... but not in very good shape. Will God do better?

He already has... by His standards. My heart, His management. What will result? A person like Jesus in spirit. Like me in human terms. But His standards are so strange that I have a hard time staying with Him. I'm broken, yes, but still very skittish. Easily frightened, like my friend's horse that started and shied any time there was a plastic bag rolling on the wind through the arena. I hope I become more confident.

What do I know of love, and God's other characteristics? I understand sledgehammers, deserts, paucity, spike-edged walls. I don't understand God's overwhelming generosity, nor His unending patience. All I have to do is try, and He's delighted.

My heart, His guardianship. I'm frightened, but there is some hope. Long-term hope, not just the brief rain that settles the dust for a minute and then evaporates.

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