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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Changed Heart

In the midst of the hurry of Christmas we are prone to forget the message of Christmas―the miracle of a changed heart. But this morning as I read one particular Bible verse I remember once again, as I do every Christmas, the miracle that Christ's love made in my life one Christmas morning when I was fourteen.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you,” I read. “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). Fifty years ago this verse might not have meant much to me, but years later I would understand that this was the miracle the Lord had rendered in my stony heart that Christmas morning.

My father served that year as an interim Justice of the Peace in Woodstock, Georgia. We were in the midst of opening presents when the doorbell rang. A woman with two little children stood on the doorstep.

Daddy guided them into the kitchen, and Mother followed. We three children were left in the living room with our grandparents. No one said anything. Why did these people have to interrupt our time together? We couldn’t open our presents without Mother and Daddy. I heard Mother in the kitchen preparing food. They would be around all the day, and it would spoil everything! I looked through the living room door. The woman sat at the kitchen table with Daddy listening to his soft voice. She nodded every few seconds. Daddy handed her a pen, and she signed some papers on the table. The little girl sat in her lap. The boy held on to her arm, his thumb in his mouth, tears streaming down his cheek. Mother came into the living room to tell us that a warrant had been sworn out against the woman’s husband, and they would stay with us until he had been arrested.

I was angry. Our Christmas was no longer pure and untouched. Ugliness had come into our home. The little boy unexpectedly came into the living room, toddled over to me, and placed his curly head on my knee. One little blue eye gazed up at me. The soft skin around it was swollen. I slowly reached down and stroked his reddened cheek. Everything changed in that instant. The ugliness had not invaded our home this morning. The ugliness had been in me.

A changed heart is what God requires. It is an on-going process for Him to keep my heart and your heart spiritually soft as flesh. My Christmas prayer for you and for me is that our hearts would continually break for Him, and that we would always have a heart that He can move.

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