Hearts of Flesh in a City of Stone

heart-of-flesh

José walked up to the counter at a convenience store to buy some things for his sister. As he got up to the register, the man behind the counter gave him a quick up-and-down and then smirked. It was clear to José that the man behind the counter thought he was better, smarter, and more well-off than José. For a split second, José considered putting down his items and showing this man what’s what. Why wouldn’t he? That’s exactly what the world he grew up in had taught him to do. Slowly, José put his items down on the counter…

And left the store.

Now this might not seem like a very big deal, but the difference between the two possible endings in that scenario is the most important thing in the world. Why? Because it shows the transformation from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.

If you didn’t grow up in a Christian home like I did, that phrase might sound a little weird. “Why talk about what a heart is made of? Clearly we all have hearts made of muscle!” This metaphor comes from the Ezekiel 36:26-27: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (NIV). God is talking about bringing his chosen people back to himself and softening their hearts toward him and toward one another. In the Old Testament, the cleansing of things that were not pleasing to God was often shown through water. In the New Testament, God tells the story of how Jesus is able to cleanse us completely, once-and-for-all, by his death and resurrection.

As José related this story to me, I saw the evidence of the change that God was making in his life. José told me later, “I thought about what the ‘old me’ would do, but I just couldn’t do it. It just wasn’t me anymore.”

A year ago, I was blessed to be present as José went through the waters of baptism. And while he still faces struggles and gets discouraged from time to time, it’s amazing to hear how God is working in his life, and how the cleansing God is doing on the inside is actually coming to fruition on the outside.

These are the types of triumphs that really keep me going at Emmaus. José’s action was as simple as walking out of a convenience store, but it demonstrates the hope that we all have in Christ, who makes all things new.

1 Comment
  1. Such a beautiful story…and a reminder that, THESE ARE THE TYPES OF TRIUMPHS that are true triumphs! Be encouraged by this heart change….just as a stronger heart exercised by weights and cardio will beat more efficiently, so a heart that is clean and soft will love more efficiently. Thanks for sharing this story!

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