Last weekend my wife Katelyn and I had to take our dog Barnaby to get his last round of shots. A little girl and her family were in front of us in line with her little puppy named Toots. When they put Toots on the table to get his shots the veterinarian checked his heart.
“Does your dog run around a lot?” he asked the little girl.
“Yeah,” she replied, “we run around all the time.”
“That’s good. He has a strong heart.”
Kate and I immediately looked at each other and frowned. I like to take Barnaby for walks and the occasional run, but he doesn’t have a yard to run around in all day because we live in an apartment. Sure enough, when the vet checked Barnaby’s heart, he said it was okay. Not great, not terrible, not spectacular; just okay.
This weekend we’re going to be singing a song called Heart Runs. It opens with this verse based on Psalm 42:
Like deer to the pool
I’m coming after you
Like a thirsty animal
My heart is for your love
I don’t always feel like this about God. Even if in my head I recognize that God is the source of my life and my salvation, sometimes my heart isn’t in it. Sometimes I can be so cavalier about God’s love instead of appreciating and cherishing it. Sometimes I need a song like this to get my heart in the right place.
One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve heard about marriage is to always speak well about your spouse in public. It’s easy to want to talk about something my wife did that bothered me or that we fight about. People love to hear about that sort of thing and we love to talk about it. What we need during those times of conflict, though, is to remember why we’re with that person to begin with. When I speak well about my wife in public and talk about the things I love about her, not only does it build her up, but it changes my heart. When I talk about how hard working my wife is, how smart she is, how gorgeous she is, how loyal she is, etc., it makes whatever thing we were fighting about seem trivial. What we say greatly affects the way we think.
That’s why we sing songs and pray together every Sunday; we know that Monday is coming, and Monday is bringing all sorts of problems with it. Monday means alarm clocks, showers, shaving, getting the kids ready, going to work, dealing with co-workers and bosses, groceries, making dinner, helping with homework, and all sorts of other things. When Monday hits, we need our hearts to be in a place that recognizes that God is in control and working through us, even on a Monday. We need a heart that is desperate for God’s presence so that we continue to seek him every morning during the week. We need a heart that speaks to God about conflict instead of gossiping to a neighbor to feel better about it. We need a heart that truly runs after God.
The pre-chorus for the song is,
From the dirt you’ve drawn me out
And you draw me out again
I’m coming back from the dead
I’m coming back like you did*
The good news about Jesus isn’t that God still loves us even though we’re bad people; the good news is that because Jesus died for our sin we can die to our sin, and because Jesus is alive we can live for God. It turns out that Jesus’ resurrection is inextricably tied to the promise that God made to the Israelites through the prophet Ezekiel:
I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.
And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act, says the LORD.
God doesn’t leave us with our heart of stone; he doesn’t leave us dead in our sins; he doesn’t leave us empty. God gives us his Spirit, he will raise us from the dead, and he is giving us a heart that truly seeks him. God has already started this work in us and he will complete it in our resurrection, when we will be fully made like Jesus. Let’s join with the rest of the saints, with the whole of creation, as we await our redemption, and sing to our Lord,
You are everything my heart wants
Everything my heart wants
My heart runs
My heart runs after you
End Note: The original pre-chorus actually ends with the line “I’m coming out of my skin.” According to McMillan this phrase is supposed to mean that he’s excited, but I think it’s dangerously misleading because it can imply a spiritual resurrection instead of a bodily one. We’ve changed the line to “I’m coming back like you did” and “I’m coming back free from sin” to better reflect passages like Psalm 17:15 and 1 John 3:2, which indicate that we will be like Jesus when he returns to raise us from the dead.