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Monday, December 23, 2013

A Changed Heart

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

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 grandmother. No one said anything. Why did these people have to interrupt our time together? We couldn’t open our presents without Mother and Daddy. They were going to 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. 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.

Our Christmas was no longer pure and untouched. Ugliness had come into our home. The little boy toddled over to me. He gazed up at me. The soft skin around one eye was swollen. I couldn’t ignore him. He kept staring at me. I slowly reached down and touched his reddened cheek. Everything changed in that instant. My stony heart broke, and I knew the ugliness had not invaded our home this morning. The ugliness was in me.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you,” I read this Monday. “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). 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. Fifty years ago this verse might not have meant much to me, but I now understand that this was the miracle the Lord rendered in my stony heart that Christmas morning. I remember it every year to keep my heart tender. I remember many other times through the years to keep my heart tender.
The moment my heart becomes stone is the moment I say “no” to the Savior who came into my heart as a child. My Christmas prayer for you and for me is that our hearts will always break with His love, and that we will always have a heart that He can move.


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