God is shopping for hearts. From my slot on the last rack, I see him enter the store. I eavesdrop as he approaches the store owner. "Not hearts of paper and lace," he says. "Hearts of flesh."
"Oh, I don't know," the owner answers. "I don't have many of those."
God indicates he wants to look, anyway.
First, he peruses the racks marked "Unbelievers," "Atheists," "Agnostics," and "Nice People Just Trying to Get By." There, all sorts of hearts beat inside every type person you can imagine. But the owner is right. Only a few children's hearts, and the hearts of one or two adults who've never heard God's truth, are still flesh. The rest show various stages of calcification.
God strides toward the "Christian" racks, including the small one at the back where I have a slot. As he examines the hearts around me, I can tell he's appalled. Most of the hearts on these racks are stony too.
Shaking his head, he murmurs, "I told them. I specifically told them not to imitate unbelieving hearts."
Then he scolds all of us who bear the label "Christian." From my perch on the little rack, I try to avoid his eyes. "Do you see how hardened you've become?" he asks. "In your case, as in theirs" (he motions to the unbeliever hearts), "the hardening has taken place gradually over a period of time. But for you, it's worse.
"I am truth, and you are able to hear my voice. Daily, I've told you the truth. Each time you've received what I say hearing accurately, doing accordingly you've become softer and more pliable. But every time you've rejected truth or tried to create your own, you've calcified a bit more."
In spite of myself, I meet his gaze. Instantly, I recall a truth I recently read in Isaiah 30:15 "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it" (NIV).
I've wanted rest and quietness, but well, okay: I've had none of it. I've fretted instead of trusting. I've made excuses instead of repenting. I've listened to the voices telling me, "That verse sounds poetic and sweet, but it just doesn't jibe with life. Frankly, honey, you're an anxious person. You've lived with anxiety a long time. You might as well make your peace with it."
But today, under God's stare, I see the real reason I haven't conquered anxiety. "You hardened your heart," God says quietly. Then, he crosses to where the store owner waits.
"I'll take them all," he announces.
"All those hearts of stone?" the owner asks. "I thought you wanted hearts of flesh."
"I do." Turning to address all of us, God repeats what he said ages ago in Ezekiel 36:26. His voice resonates through the store. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (NIV).
He pauses. Then, measuring his words, he tells the owner, "I'm going to give everything I have to pay for them all. But I'll only take the ones who agree to come the hearts willing to hear and follow my voice, to feel what my heart feels."
He lays open his wallet.
"Take me!" I cry.
(c) 1993, 2001, 2005 by Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved. “Shopping for Hearts” is Snapshot 10 in Deborah’s book, "Focused Living in a Frazzled World: 105 Snapshots of Life."