When God Gives Us a New Heart
Many years ago, my wife worked on a heart transplant team, conducting psycho-social assessments of transplant candidates. (That’s a fancy way of saying she sought to determine if they could handle this kind of surgery emotionally.) So as a much younger man, I remember watching a recording of a heart transplant surgery one evening. I’m still fascinated by my memories of that experience.
This week, it all came rushing back to me as I walked with a family experiencing a heart transplant. Specifically, I remember the reality of the moment when the old heart is removed, and the new heart is meticulously placed, connected, and “awakened” in the person undergoing surgery. They wake up from the transplant with a shock because that healthy muscle is pushing blood volume in a way they have not experienced. Life begins again.
When Christ offered us life, it wasn’t just a mended or rehabilitated life. It was a NEW life. A NEW heart. It was something that God promised through the prophet Ezekiel. Speaking to the Israelites who had forsaken and profaned God’s name and reputation, God promised that He would cleanse their sin and make a drastic change in them. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ezekiel 36:26)
That’s what Jesus did. He gave us the Holy Spirit, who teaches us what is good, enables us to honor the Lord, and to transforms our relationship with intimacy with and access to God. It’s astounding to consider. Before this happens, we wish for it, hope for it, and dare to believe it’s possible. But once we experience the “new birth” that Jesus promised, everything changes. We run to our heavenly Father in confidence. Like a transplant recipient who is shocked by the new energy he/she experiences, we are shocked by the relief of forgiveness and grace. We are shocked at the prompting of the Spirit to remind us we are loved, forgiven, and whole.
In short, we have a whole new life! That is what it means to talk about the “gospel.” It’s GOOD news!