Bypass. Transplant. New Heart.
Ezekiel 36:26 “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you.”
When I think of the number of men and women I have ministered to with heart conditions, my mind is boggled. Mostly by the fact that their bypasses, transplants, pacemakers and angioplasties were successful and bought them years of life after the procedure. Modern cardiology is a gift of God.
But new hearts aren’t free. They come at a price. And not just the financial cost of surgery. Before surgery, bad hearts can wear a body down—making the patient gasp for air, slow her gate, or curtail her activity altogether. Every part of the body that the heart feeds blood is deprived. When the heart is dying, the whole person suffers.
After surgery, the patient may wonder what he has subjected himself to. Whether the supposed benefits he will see are worth the pain of the incisions, the shortness of breath, and the labor of walking the halls of the hospital. And that’s just two days after the procedure. Then comes the rehab, with physical and occupational therapy, the exercise regime and the heart-healthy diet. New hearts are an investment. An investment in life. An investment in a future.
So when we hear Ezekiel declare God’s intent: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you,” we can be sure that God has no illusions about the work he proposes. God knows that when his people need a new heart, they have been taking the old heart for granted. Abusing it, misusing it, testing its limits, or skipping the medication that might help. God knows that the patient he is performing the procedure on is worn down, discouraged, fatigued by life. And God chooses to give the new heart despite the patient’s past.
But once that new heart is transplanted, oh the wonders it performs. A new heart creates the opportunity for a man to have years of loving his family, working to support them, serving others’ needs. A bypass makes the difference between a sedentary life, and a fulfilling, purposeful existence. Ask Marshia, or John, or any number of other Calvary folks, if you need proof.
So why use this language to talk about Stewardship? Well, perhaps we should first reiterate the meaning of the word stewardship: “Stewardship is everything we do after we say, ‘I believe.’” If we try do the stuff of faith without a new heart, we are like the heart patient living on borrowed time: We are short of breath, and taxed for energy. (Maybe that’s why Ezekiel uses the words “heart” and “spirit” almost interchangeably—because the heart actually allows the body to be “in-spired,” oxygenated, and able to function.) But, with a new heart, the future is open. Not unencumbered, but healthy, and available.
That is what happens with us as the church at Calvary. God puts a new heart within us—to do ministry and to support that ministry with our money. God’s heart procedure (giving us a heart for Christ, and so also for the world), means that, as individuals and as a community, we have a healthy, open, and available future.
In this new stewardship season, may our hearts beat in rhythm with Christ.
Pastor Lori Cornell