I love choruses and refrains. They can get to be earworms, but they also form us, in subtle ways, to see the world differently. The best of them are short enough to sing with one catch breath and long enough to embody some kind of contradiction. This morning, I have been thinking about this one:
Lord, give me a heart of flesh to hear your Word, your love. I’ve had a heart of stone for so long. And teach me how to listen close, and where to hear your voice. Now, Lord, before I sing my song.
To me, this speaks to our fundamental attitude toward the world. So often, we buy into a worldview that is narrow, harsh and negative. Sure that nothing good will happen, we steel ourselves and harden our hearts. I think those of us who work with people in need every day are most in danger of developing hearts of stone. We are daily confronted with problems that we cannot solve, and heartbreaking situations that we cannot fix. The secret, I believe is to “listen close” and hear the voice of God suggesting to us solutions, options and means of grace that cut through our lack of resources and allow us to offer help that is not dependent on money or political power or any of the things we lack. When we hear with our hearts, we get a different message than we could with just our ears. Before we sing our songs to the world, before we get the kids up for school, or get on the train to the office, or open the door to the fellowship hall, we need to listen to the lessons that a heart of flesh can teach us, and do the work God has given us in hope and not despair.