Open heart surgery

Was it the word lung bypass machine?

Or the family zoom call to the doctor?

Maybe it was the day itself, the message to say he had gone into surgery.

Two weeks ago my brother had open heart surgery to replace a leaking aortic valve and until the day of the surgery it felt so surreal. Up until that point, if allowing myself to think about it, I viewed the surgery as the obstacle, as the problem to be overcome. But the truth is, however significant, however potentially life changing, the surgery itself wasn’t the problem. It was the start of the solution to the heart of the problem, to the problem of the heart. 


Restoring, grafting, strengthening, res establishing the heart to function as it ought. That was the role of the surgery. It required self rendering to another, a giving and trusting of my brother to the skillful hands and expert knowledge of his surgeon. It required humility and a willingness to receive the healing needed. It now requires a renewed awareness of living in recovery, of being aware of the healing work done, the renewed state of the heart and the need for extra vigilant and watchful, humble, care. Open heart surgery necessitates a patient and careful submission to the healing process. 


“Only two people have seen the inside of your heart now!” Ever one to lighten the mood, my husband’s words to my brother, nevertheless brought home the reality that God truly sees. 


Our heavenly Father, who purposed our very existence, who created us in love, who designed and fashioned our every feature, knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees the hopes, despairs, he sees the sins we ‘secretly’ cover, the shame we would rather not think about, the desires and plans we have, the idols we worship, those things our hearts truly beat for, the joys and expectations we bring to situations and our relationships, the forgotten words that have taken root, the pride, blame, and guilt. All that we have suppressed or fear to bring to others for fear of rejection, the Lord sees, and His response is far from fearful retreat. The state of our hearts is never beyond His powerful, healing, restoring hands. 


For He is our creator. He knows our hearts, he knows what they are and how he intended them, how he would intend them to be and he is constantly working in us to renew us. His work in our hearts may seems like painful, wrenching, open heart surgery. It may feel like we cannot even take a breathe for our helplessness and weakened state. Yet his healing work, of coming towards us, of asking us to come to Him, to give Him his heart in surrendering trust is the only way that will mend our broken hearts. To confess to Him what He already knows and sees there, that we might be the willing patient in the hands of our loving, most expert, skilled Creator, willing to undergo some serious self examination, by His Spirit attend to and confess what is hidden in the dark places of our hearts, to recognise where they beat for self or other, to admit where they need renewing and strengthening because of our weakness to certain sins, is the beginning of the healing heartwork of our God by the power of His Spirit in communion with our Lord and Saviour.


He will bring our hearts to rest in him, content and strengthened in Him alone, to beat for him and filled with love for Him and not for self or other, or worthless thing. He made our hearts for His. He moves towards the pian mess brokenness leaks we’ve made and he works by His grace, His skilled creator craftsmanship and for His glory and our good. 


His work in our hearts can feel like painful, wrenching, open heart surgery. He breathes life in us when we feel choked and weak. He renews us, re establishes confirms and strengthens us by His grace. 


As we examine our hearts and respond to Jesus’ invitation to Come to Him, as we surrender to the healing work our hearts so desperately need, we do so by grace. The work is painful but it is not the problem. It is the diagnosing and healing of the heart of the problem, the problem of our hearts.


God doesn’t flee from our sin. He comes towards us. He sent His own Son who Himself gave His life willingly, who sight his eyes towards Jerusalem and the cross on which He gave His life for us. God created our hearts and He longs for them to beat with love for Him, to be strengthened by His grace and to give life to us. So whether we’re in the midst of that healing process, or need to come to God and ask Him to begin that work within us, or whether we are in the fragile recovery, let us keep our hearts with all vigilance, know them, examine them, invite God to strengthen and mend them, that from them might flow springs of life. 

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