Saturday, February 08, 2014

Give Your Servant an Understanding Heart

“…I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.  I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.  Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.  For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”  1 Kings 3:7b-9

When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.  Mark 6:34

Help us to have an understanding heart that will respond to the needs of those around us.

What is in your heart?  What is in God’s heart?

The heart is an important organ in the body, performing vital functions that keep our lives going.  The heart also is allegorical in nature, symbolizing an emotional center that guides our lives.   You can engage in activities which are “heart-healthy” by eating right, exercising, and following your doctors’ orders to correct problems.  If biological issues get too serious, doctors can operate to open up clogged arteries and even to transplant a new heart into a patient.
Beyond biology, though, the heart as the emotional center of our lives parallels the brain being the rational center of our decision making and behavior.  We are guided by our head on some issues and our heart on others.   The end result of both actions would be to do the right thing and be in the right kind of relationship with God and with those around us. 

Today, we get to peer into two hearts in Scripture:  the hearts of Solomon and Jesus.  The Lord provided Solomon with an open-ended invitation to spiritual fulfillment.  In essence, he said, “Ask me for anything and I will give it to you.”  King Solomon did not see the Lord’s offer as a way to accumulate untold wealth – like finding an unlocked ATM machine or a winning Powerball ticket.  Instead, Solomon seeks an “understanding heart” in order to judge his people properly.  The Lord is so impressed with this request, that not only does he grant that wish, but the Lord also provides the king with more than he asked fulfilling the request. 

As we peer into Jesus’ heart, we see the same heart which responded to Solomon’s desire responding to the needs of the people assembled around him.  These people were in a “deserted place.”  That deserted place may have referred to a remote location but also to a remote relationship with the Lord that left them spiritually hungry.  Into that space, Jesus entered and fulfilled their inner desire just as the Lord fulfilled Solomon’s self-less wish.  

Be careful what you wish for.  You just may get it.  If you get things that you selfishly desire, there may be unforeseen and unpleasant consequences.

We see this played out in popular culture often.  A character makes a selfish wish and actually gets what they wished for, only to find that the reality does not live up to their fantasy.  A stranded astronaut makes a deal with beautiful genie who popped out of a bottle and an advertising executive marries a beautiful witch who wiggles her nose to alter events.  Faustus makes a deal with the devil to sell his soul and Dorian Grey gets eternal youth and an eternal memory.  When George Bailey and Ebenezer Scrooge make a wish, they get a tour through an alternative timeline (or three) to see what happens or may happen if this wish is granted.

There are many kinds of healthy self-less wishes that you can help to fulfill with positive consequences.  

Today, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, there are more than 120,000 people awaiting (wishing for) a life-saving and extending heart, kidney or other kinds of transplants.  However, last year only one out of every three people on the list were able to get such a transplant while time is ticking away.  Take out your drivers’ license.  Does that indicate you are willing to be an organ donor if something tragic were to happen?  You can be with the stroke of your pen.  Consider signing up to be a part of the Living Bank of organ donors and let your family and friends know your wishes to help fulfill the wishes of others once your life has run its course.

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