Going Back to a Broken Heart: Inspired by Obedience

She told us she didn’t think she could go back.

But there she stood on our church’s stage, holding the microphone in one hand and lifting up letters, prayer cards and gifts in the other to show us what happened when she returned.

The year before, she had traveled to Honduras with a group focused on blessing orphans and she’d shared her testimony then with questions:

How could these little children be so in need?  Was there any hope for them at all?  Where was God in this?  She knew He was there, but it was hard to see.

That’s what she asked then and her heart had been so broken by what she saw there….could she endure the breaking again and return a year later?

Perhaps she shouldn’t go.  Perhaps it was too hard, just too heavy, too much, too sad, too overwhelming.

I understand the compelling lure of self-preservation, the way we can choose distance and the safety of objectivity, of statistics, of pictures someone else displays and the testimony that someone else gives without wading into mess ourselves.

I’m willing to engage this far….but no farther.

I am willing to give or serve or care until it hurts, until my heart cracks open and I’m clinging hard to faith when the world beats so hard with evil on the innocent.

I can sit in the balcony of a church sanctuary and tearfully listen as she describes the orphanage facilities, the care (or lack of) for the children, the danger and the hurt.16954296_s

But she stands there with the microphone and I see the beauty of one who was called and equipped and one who went not once, but went again.

She holds up a tiny pink fuzzy toy, an elephant I think.  A little girl with one leg from cancer in an orphanage had given that to her as a memento, “so you won’t ever forget me.”  That’s what motivated the gift of her only toy.

And there are other gifts.  Trinkets to keep at home on her dresser.  Beaded bracelets dangling from both her arms.  Notes and cards from children and teens.

They say it over and over in their messages, “Don’t forget me…..Always remember me….”

Children unloved, unnoticed, rejected, abandoned, betrayed, tossed out, sold, used and abused, and what they most want is for someone on this planet to remember they exist.

My own unborn baby kicks and rumbles and I lay my hand on my pregnant belly as I listen to her talk about the unwanted ones while responding to my own very wanted child.

She says the teen girls have one outfit of clothes that they wear every day and I think of the closet bulging already from gifts of baby blue sleepers and hats, blankets and bibs, outfits we oohed and aahed over together as we pulled them out of the bags sent home with us from church.

The beauty of her testimony, though, is that she put her heart on the altar and willingly went back to that place of brokenness, and this time she can say where God is at work, where there was hope and grace despite the pain.

Foster moms tell me it cuts deep wounds in them to love a child and then release him to biological family, but they choose to love anyway.

And I see a picture on my Twitter feed, a young boy about eight years old standing in a store posing for a picture while his adoptive mom clicks the camera.  He’s showing off his new clothes and she’s thrilled.  Orphaned at one years old, growing up on the streets of Africa and now he is home….chosen….loved, but it’s been a journey.

It’s not that God calls all of us to this same ministry, but He calls some to have hearts willing to be broken.

He told His prophet Hosea not just to marry a prostitute, but after she left him to pursue her lovers,  to “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress”  (Hosea 3:1 NASB).

God told Ezekiel not to mourn his wife’s death: “but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come. Groan silently; make no mourning for the dead…”  (Ezekiel 24:15-17 NASB).

Their hearts broke in obedience.

If that’s God’s calling, then we can trust Him with our own hearts, trust Him enough to obey even when it’s hard and our instinct is to snatch our hands back from the hot stove and cradle our hearts to protect them from pain.  We can trust Him enough to go and to go again and enough to sing,Break my heart for what breaks yours” and mean it (Hillsong United).

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Please Break My Heart…Really and Truly

Originally posted March 23, 2012

It’s the drill, the sound if it screeching unnaturally close to your face.

Plus there’s the smell of sterilized tools and latex gloves.dentistchair

There’s the tooth-shaped clock on the wall and the charts portraying healthy and not-so-healthy gums hanging here and there.

It’s the dentist’s office and I don’t love the place, but I had to be there for a filling—easy and routine, my dentist tells me.  He asks me how I’m doing today.  “Nervous,” I confess with a conversational giggle.

Still, I like him.  He’s pleasant and efficient.  His degrees and certifications adorn the walls, assuring me that he knows what to do.  He’s the kind of doctor I prefer, one who explains to you what’s going on and assumes you’re intelligent enough to understand.

So, he glances at my chart and sees the note written in large letters, “Needs extra anesthetic.”

He asks me about it and I tell him the gruesome story of another dentist starting to drill and me feeling it.  I tried to fake it and pretend like I was numb just for the sake of expediency, but my flinches and the pain in my eyes apparently gave me away.

When you’re numb, you ironically can’t help but feel it.  You feel that your face is heavy and your speech difficult.  They ask you to rinse and it takes effort.

It’s a simple filling and yet here I sit at my computer five hours later, feeling the last remaining bit of numbness around my mouth.  I’m a poster child for the old Bill Cosby standup routine about a dental patient.

Numbness takes time to fade, but thankfully it eventually does.  Truly, I’m grateful for the fact that two shots of medicine helped me not to feel the dentist’s drill.  It’s a comfort of the modern age that I’m happy to enjoy.

Yet, as I sit in the chair waiting for the drilling to start, I wonder if I’ve grown too numb in other areas of my life.  And sadly, the numbness of our hearts and minds doesn’t fade away as assuredly as a dentist’s shot.

Hillsong sings in their song Hosanna:

Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into
Eternity

worldvisionThis was the prayer of World Vision founder, Bob Pierce: “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

So I wonder…is my heart too numb?  Has it become an unfeeling organ?  Or, am I only slightly bruised occasionally, crying for a moment and then resuming life as normal, patching up momentary sorrow with practicalities and emotional distance?

What actually breaks the heart of God anyway?

Surely it’s our sin, our breaking faith with God and causing Him disappointment and sadness (Numbers 5:6, Hosea 11:8b).

Yes, David’s heart broke after his devastating sin of adultery and murder, and he desired restoration and forgiveness (Psalm 51).

Are you grieved over your sin and the times you’ve broken faith with God?  Do you shake it off with excuses and acceptance, compromising because it’s “normal” and just “who you are?”  Or do you humbly bow at His feet and ask for His help and His forgiveness?  Do you hate your sin enough to do whatever it takes to change?

Surely the lost break God’s heart, the “sheep not having a shepherd,” who stirred Jesus’ heart to compassion and self-sacrifice (Mark 6:34). 

Are you broken-hearted over those who do not know Jesus and moved to compassion and boldness by their presence in the world and in your community?

But it’s also the hurting and needy.  When Israel complained that God wasn’t overly impressed by their fasting rituals and legalistic religiosity, God told them exactly what kind of fasting He desired: freeing the oppressed, sharing bread with the hungry, caring for the homeless (Isaiah 58:6-7).

James agreed when he wrote, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27, ESV).

Is your heart broken by the orphaned, the widowed, the hungry, and the oppressed?  Do you do more than shed a tear at an Internet video and actually advocate for those who need a voice?

We have a God whose heart is broken over sin, over unbelief, over the hurting, oppressed, defenseless and hungry.

What about our hearts?

It’s a strange thing, this spiritual numbness.  While a shot at the dentist’s office fades over time, our hearts respond in opposite ways to hurt.  We may begin compassionate and then grow numb from forgetfulness.  We may grieve over sin at first and then slowly grow accustomed to it.

Instead of needing extra doses of anesthetic, we must go to God continually and ask for more of His broken heart.

To listen to Hillsong’s Hosanna, you can click the link here or watch the video posted below on the blog:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King