The Issue at Heart

As I wake up this morning to the news of last night’s shooting in Dallas, I am yet again saddened.  I am saddened for the loss of life.  I am saddened for the families.  I am saddened that there will be a void in the lives of some, a vacancy once occupied by a dear loved one…a husband, a wife, a sister, a brother, a friend, a neighbor, a mother, a father.  I am saddened by the state of our country.  I am saddened that this story has repeated itself so often.  I am saddened that I must once again sit down with my children and forcibly pry their eyes open just a bit more to show them the reality of the world.  I steal a bit of their innocence every single time we have these talks.

I’ve had a lot of practice of late in finding ways to accurately yet compassionately tell my children about the news of the day…Minnesota, Louisiana, Orlando…the list goes on.  Today it is Dallas.  Yet this morning, in the quietness of a still sleeping house, as I try to rehearse in my head the words I will use to inform them of the events in Dallas, my heart is burdened by one question:  Where is the respect and value of human life in our society?  Where has it gone?

Expendable.  I fear that is how life is viewed.  Simply expendable.

The weapons of this world are devastating when used for evil.  Yet there is a weapon more powerful than any firearm, more devastating than any weapon fashioned by man.  It is the human heart.  For pent up within the human heart are all kinds of evils.  The Lord has known what we sometimes prefer not to acknowledge:

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick;  Who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9

There is no law that will change the heart.  No legislation will contain what is stored up within.  The heart is the true issue.

For decades our society has taught and legislated that life is indeed expendable… from the tiniest of lives formed at conception to the gray-haired generation nearing their last days.  “Inconvenient” life can simply be discarded, forgotten, taken.  How is it that we are remotely surprised at where our society is?

What is the solution to this sad state of affairs?  Thankfully there is one plan whose goal is to capture, heal, and restore the broken.  It is a plan to take the dark heart and its evil ways and make it new.  Salvation through Jesus Christ.  Period.  Nothing less will do.  Nothing less will make a change.

Dear God have mercy on us.  Heal our land…heal our hearts.



Beautiful Words and Dirty Laundry

It was just a few hours before they would arrive for dinner.  A family from church would be coming over.  They had never been to our home before.  I honestly was a little stressed, as I typically am before guests arrive.  My house is not fancy or big or full of Pottery Barn decor.  I, like many of you, lead a hectic life, with a lot on my plate.  I don’t always keep my house as tidy as I should.  What if they see a dusty end table?  A stray sock in the living room?  A sink full of dishes?  What will they think?  More important, what will they think of me?

I bet some of you can relate.   You want everything to be in its place.  You want to give the impression that you’ve got things together. Surely if my house is not up to standard they will think I am lazy and will judge.

“We need to vacuum and dust and get the laundry off of the sofa.  Someone needs to get on their hands and knees and look under the sofa and all of the furniture.  They have little kids; they will find everything.  Make sure your room is clean.  Tidy up the porch. I’ll clean the refrigerator.  Make sure the dishes are put away.”

There was no shortage of commands to be handed out that day.  Everyone had a job to do.  I am not exactly sure why I thought that it was important to clean the refrigerator.  Who in the world is going to be looking inside of my refrigerator? But, you never know, so better to be safe than sorry.  What utter lunacy!

“Mom, where do you want me to put all of this laundry that is on the sofa?  I don’t know if it’s clean or dirty.  It’s not folded?”

“Just put it on my bed and be sure to close the door.  I’ll figure it out later”

And with five minutes remaining until arrival, I gave one final run through.  All looks well.  Okay, I think we are done.   I could finally breathe a bit.

“They’re here.  They’re here.” And with that we opened the door and welcomed our friends inside.  The dads and kids went sleigh riding across the street, while the moms stayed inside and chatted.  We would share dinner and dessert and enjoy some wonderful conversation and fellowship.

At one point in the evening I excused myself to head upstairs.  Our first floor restroom was out of service due to some renovations.  So everyone had been directed to make their way to the second floor if need be.  Our house is kind of small.  When you reach the top of the stairs you have a bedroom to your left, right, and directly in front of you.  The bathroom is in the hallway off of the master bedroom.  As I made the turn toward the bathroom I paused and there before my eyes was a gigantic, mountainous pile of clothes.  My bedroom door had been left open for all the world to see.  I tilted my head back and dropped my shoulders.  There was no mistaking the fact that everyone had seen it.  I was kind of mortified.

So, I went downstairs and looked at my friend, “So, I guess you saw my huge pile of laundry.  Sorry about that.  I just didn’t get around to it.”

I call her response that followed “the most beautiful words any mother has ever said to me.”  They are words that have been etched in my mind and continue to warm my heart each time I think of them.

“Oh, I was so glad to see that.  It is beautiful.  I just wish that the pile was bigger.”

I wanted to cry…cry tears of joy.  With those few words I felt all of that pressure to be “together” dissipate.   My huge pile of laundry made both of us feel normal.

I began to tell her of the craziness that had occurred just before her arrival.  How I wanted to make sure that everything was just so.  Why do women do this?  Because we wonder what people will think.  I tried my best to give the impression of togetherness, but my “dirty laundry” was still visible for all to see.    As moms  we try to measure up, and we endlessly compare ourselves to the next woman…to her home, her kids, her clothes, her cooking, her whatever.  We feel inadequate and view everyone else as “super mom”.  It is so destructive.

After this little episode the Lord began to show me that outward appearances do not always represent reality.  Someone who appears to have it all together on the outside may very well be a mess on the inside.  And vice versa.  People have a tendency to do exactly what I did: they paint a picture that they want the world to see.  Oh, they likely have some “dirty laundry” that they want to remain hidden, but regardless of how well it is stowed away, it’s still there.

How thankful I am that the Lord is not concerned about the outer man.   The inner man, the heart and soul of a man, the part that no one can see, is what really concerns our Lord.  The Lord sees through walls and facades; He is not tricked by our outward efforts to appear “with it”. He is not impressed by fancy homes or beautiful things or finely coiffed hair.  Fine clothes and fancy cooking are of no worth.  The Lord looks at the heart.

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  I Samuel 16:7

Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with keeping a lovely home or having nice things.  We are certainly not called to be slobs either.  It again all comes down to our hearts.  What is our motivation?  Is it to impress people?  Is it to make sure people think that we have got it all together?

I urge you not to do that to yourself.  Do not compare.  Do not assume that everyone else but you has it all together.  Be concerned with your heart, for your inner man, for that is the Lord’s concern as well.