A happy Mother’s Day to all you brave, beautiful moms! I hope your humans love on you extra well today. We are so thankful that restrictions have lifted enough here in the last few days that we can actually celebrate today with my Mom, together, in person, with hugs all around! And did I mention there will be lobster? Mmmm! I set foot in a store yesterday for the first time in about eight weeks in search of a bouquet of flowers for Mom, but ended up buying a gift card for her to do some online shopping instead. Online shopping…no doubt something we’ve all been doing a little more of these days.
Speaking of gifts, I was reading about two gifts this week that would make every other pale in comparison. Look at what God says He wants to give…
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.”Ezekiel 36:26-27 CSB
As I read this verse in my quiet time this week it reminded me of David’s plea in Psalm 51 for a clean heart and a new spirit. Recently it struck me that the Hebrew word for create is used in David’s reference to the cleansing of his heart. “Create” as in Genesis 1 where God created everything from nothing. David wasn’t asking for a heart renovation but a brand new creation. Now I’m stumbling across the same imagery in Ezekiel. The Hebrew word חדש (new) is used in Ezekiel in reference to both the heart and the spirit that God promises His people.
When I read this verse in Hebrew it struck me that the word for “flesh” (בשר) actually appears twice. This comes through in more literal translations where it reads something like this: “I will remove the heart of stone from out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” I kept thinking about that apparent redundancy, and then it hit me that the heart of stone doesn’t belong in our flesh. The new heart, the heart of flesh, is the one that’s congruent. It fits! It’s the one God intended for us from the beginning, back in Genesis.
This got me thinking about Augustine and his definition of virtue as ordo amoris or, in English — the ordering of our affections. Only when God gives us a new heart, the one that fits with who we were created to be, can we love as we ought to. Our desires can finally find full and true expression instead of working themselves out in twisted and damaging ways. This heart of flesh may be new to us, a gift from God, but it’s actually a homecoming of sorts. As A. W. Tozer puts it:
Made as we were in the image of God, we scarcely find it strange to take again our God as our all. God was our original habitat, and our hearts cannot but feel at home when they enter again that ancient and beautiful abode…Nothing will or can restore order until our hearts make the great decision: God shall be exalted above.from The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer
God as our beautiful and ancient abode — I love that picture of finding our home in Him. But even more than that, He finds a home in us. In the above verse from Ezekiel, God says, “I will…put a new spirit…my Spirit within you.” Wow! That makes us a new creation entirely. Let’s back up a bit and think about our physical senses for a minute. Without them, we would have no ability to understand the world around us. Aquinas wrote:
“…man must be endowed with senses as a prerequisite to understanding. A proof of this is the fact that if a man is lacking in one of the senses, he has no knowledge of sensible objects that are apprehended by that sense.”from Compendium of Theology by Thomas Aquinas
Pretty obvious. Without our sense of hearing we wouldn’t learn much from a bird’s song or an audiobook. This got me thinking about the gift of God’s Spirit and how it is like the gift of another sense whereby we can perceive and understand truth. Perhaps this is what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he said:
Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God…But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.I Corinthians 2:12-14 CSB
Just as a person born blind has no understanding of colour, a person without the gift of God’s Holy Spirit simply doesn’t have the ability to understand the mind of God. Is it any wonder then that obedience to walk in His ways is impossible for us? But that’s what God says His Spirit will enable us to do when He dwells within us. God’s Spirit within will “cause you to walk in my statutes.” So what difference does the Holy Spirit make? What’s the connection between God’s Spirit and our obedience? I’m sure there’s many things we could list in answer to that question. Undoubtedly, it is a gift of power to endure and overcome and a gift of presence to comfort and guide us. But it is also a gift that gives us a peek into the mind and heart of God, a gift that finally enables us to understand God’s loving purpose for us and His perfect Father’s heart that only wants what is best for His children. In short, it’s a gift that enables us to trust and to surrender our deepest desires to the hands of God where they can be ordered and shaped into their proper form. And, in that, we can experience what it means to really live the abundant life Jesus said He came to give us!
What thieves have you allowed to steal and kill and destroy in your own life? God’s nature is to create and to bless. He is a giving God, and He has some amazing gifts for you today if you will dare to step out in faith and accept them — the gift of a new heart that you will discover fits you to a tee and the gift of His Spirit that will open up an intimacy with and awareness of God and His ways that you have never dreamed of. Come home to your “ancient abode”, and come alive to the life you were created to live!
The song I’ll leave you with today isn’t a worship song. But it’s a powerful reminder of the miracle God can work in anybody’s life, no matter how far beyond a miracle they might feel. I love these lines especially:
When you see broken beyond repair, I see healing beyond belief. When you see too far gone, I see one step away from home. When you see nothing but damaged goods, I see something good in the making. I'm not finished yet. When you see wounded, I see mended. So hold on, it's not the end. No, this is where love's work begins. I'm making all things new, And I will make a miracle of you.
Have a listen and be reminded of God’s generous love to you and share with someone who needs the perfect gift this Mother’s Day.