Most people don’t know this about me, but I was born with a hereditary heart defect that I wasn’t aware of until I was in my teens. This heart defect was such that it affected and effected every aspect of my life, and eventually would have killed me. However, someone gave their life for me to receive a new heart.
19 years ago, when I was 14 years old, I received a heart transplant. Someone who didn’t suffer from the same condition I did, died. Because they died, I received a new heart.
Some of you may have gathered, that I’m not talking about a new organ.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezek 36:26, ESV)
On the morning of January 23rd, 1998, I had no idea that my life was going to change forever. I woke up like any other morning. I went to school like any other morning. And that evening, I attended a youth rally called Acquire the Fire.
I had been active in the confirmation program at a local Lutheran Church and was learning about the Bible and God, but it was not made real to me until that evening, and even then I didn’t realize it.
Stealing a play right out of Finney’s playbook, Ron Luce played me like a fiddle. He hyped my emotions up, the music swelled, and like clockwork, I hit my knees. Hundreds of others just like me made their way to the floor. I’m sure not all of them were false converts, but I’m also sure most of them were. One of the kids from my youth group who “came to faith” at the same time as I did is now an avowed atheist who rails against the what he believes are deceptive and oppressive Christian practices.
However, I woke up the next morning, and something was different. I opened my eyes, and my first desire was to read the Bible. I remember a few days later swearing, and the words tasted unnatural and bitter in my mouth. I saw a cute girl walk past me at school, and I found myself ashamed of the thoughts which came to mind. To put it in the lines of a dc Talk song which was already beginning to influence me
What’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior
About a week later, I found myself praying and asking God what was happening. I felt a distinct impression, although not in a mystical or charismatic sense, that I had made a commitment to serve the Lord… I had chosen to follow him. However, more than that, he had selected me for his service, he had chosen first to love me.
You see, on a Roman cross, nearly 2000 years ago… God in the flesh died on the cross, in my place. He became my sin, though he knew no sin so that I might become the righteousness of God. Just as it was promised (Jer 23:5), Yahweh Tsidkenu, the LORD is my righteousness.
19 years ago, God took my broken, sinful, heart of stone… and he ripped it out. This heart that would only bring me death is no more. He replaced it with a heart of flesh that loves and desires to serve the LORD.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17, ESV)
Soli Deo gloria!