Monday, February 13, 2012

The Heart of a Man

By Brenda Black

To hear him weave a tale of adventurous treks through Alaskan mountain passages will make your hair stand up on the back of a frigid neck just like you were in the icy elements. Coon hunting stories of harrowing midnight romps through Missouri timber is jaw dropping entertainment as I listen to my 74 year old thrill-seeking friend. It's a wonder he's still alive after all these years. Why, he's been risking life and limb since he was a pup himself, chasing everything from raccoon to grizzly bear and anything in between.

He's spry as a leprechaun high on Lucky Charms. He's quick-witted and articulate, unlike most fellas who spend much of their life in the woods. He's a horseman, cattleman, big game guide and one of the coolest old dudes to pert near every young boy in the tri-county area. He's taken them all turkey and coon and coyote hunting at one time or another. And the girls he wows with a ride atop one of his mules as he teaches them to plow or neck rein accordingly.

Arthur is just one of those colorful characters that gets in your head and steals your heart with his constant cheerfulness and quirky sense of humor. I've never heard him speak without a chuckle interspersed somewhere in his dialogue. I've never seen him without a smile. Even as he faces a challenging circumstance. And this time, it's pretty serious. Arthur is having his heart valve replaced.

If you have doubted my fair description of a man tough as nails yet tender hearted as Christ himself, I have a doctor's statement to convince you of its merit. Arthur needs a calf valve, not a pig valve, for his three-quarter century ticker, because it has to be strong enough to keep up with him!

That's just cool! As I wrap my mind around the amazing medical possibilities that our modern society enjoys, I'm more impressed with one who embraces life with such vigor. Somewhere along this delightful man's adventurous journey, God changed his heart and put fire in it for His glory, just like He promised to the people of Israel as reported by the prophet Ezekiel. “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. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:26-28)

You see, what I haven't told you about my friend, is that he loves the Lord with that heart that needs some physical repair. And as God looks on that heart, he finds a faithful servant there. Sometimes Arthur is wise. Sometimes he is witty. Sometimes he is wise-cracking, but always he is a witness. That puts him in the same company with one like Solomon, when King David instructed: “Acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you;...Be strong and do the work.” (1 Chronicles 28:9b-10)

Nothing short of a calf valve is strong enough for this one who has a heart for God. If your heart were diagnosed this day by the Lord Himself, what would He find? A servant's heart? A faithful heart? A committed heart? A strong heart?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) Through Alaskan mountains or Ozark hills, through trials and valleys and roaring rivers of life, make us strong of heart. May we please the One who gave His love and life that we might live wholeheartedly for Him.

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