What is Written on Your Heart?
Posted in Parenting/Marriage
Scripture: “Attention, Israel! God, our God! God the One and Only! Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love Him with all that’s in you, love Him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.” – Deuteronomy 6: 5-9 (The Message)
The Shema is one of the most recognized and important prayers in Judaism and is recited daily by faithful Jews, but it is important and integral for us, as Christians, too for several reasons. First – it clearly reminds us that there is only one God and, since we aren’t God, we are to love God with our whole heart – with “all that you’ve got!” That seems like a simple takeaway, but I find it to be incredibly easy to worship and be seduced by other “gods” in life such as financial security, knowledge, political power, and just the incredible amount of stuff we surround ourselves with that makes us feel good. Reminding ourselves daily that God is God and we are not is incredibly essential to keep ourselves grounded in truth and humility (two things that seem to be in short supply in our world these days!).
The second reason The Shema is important is that it holds us accountable. We don’t just get to bask in the warm light of God’s love and forgiveness and leave it at that. God gives us marching orders such as talking about loving the one and only God with your family, your community, and your friends. You don’t just get to recite God’s commands out loud; you need to have them “written on your hearts” where they cannot be removed. If God’s commands to love him and one another are inside of us, then our lives can become a reflection of God’s glory – our ultimate goal as believers.
The first time The Shema was brought to my attention was when Brian and I did the Bethel Bible study when we were first married back in the early 90s here at EPC. I remember reading it and having this light bulb go off — “Ok, THIS is why my Mom and Dad made us: go to Sunday School, church, and vacation bible school, have nightly devotionals, tithe our allowance, and attend mission trips. It wasn’t just to irritate me or my siblings – it was done in obedience to God and the promises that they made to God and the community of faith. Who knew?” I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I was a real pain-in-the-neck kid. Just ask my Mom and Dad (shout out to Florence and Lewis Fowler!).
I am literally eternally grateful that they persevered, and their example of obedience gave me the strength to try to live into these same words when I became a parent and made promises on their behalf when we had our children baptized. I know without question I have not been as obedient and faithful as my parents – some days were/are better than others. But, I hope and pray that God’s promises are planted inside my children and written on their hearts, so that they will continue to blossom and grow.
Every time a child is baptized at Eastminster, I think of The Shema – these verses that reflect the promises of God to us and the command we are given to talk about them to others – especially to our own family. The parents and our congregation make promises to God and to each other. We are to acknowledge that there is one God. And in response, we are to love God and our neighbors, to talk about God, to reflect his glory in all the moments of our lives, and to tell the story of God to our children and grandchildren. Friends – financial security, knowledge, political power, and that wonderful and fun stuff we have never lasts. God’s love and truth are the only things that transform anything or anyone eternally. What is written on your heart, and how, when, and to whom are you talking about it?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father – thank you so much for faithful and obedient parents and so many others (grandparents, pastors, siblings, friends and fellow believers) that have played a role in writing your truth on my heart. Help me to also respond to your commands faithfully and obediently by talking about your love and truth when I wake up, as I go about my day, and as I fall into bed at night. Amen.
Submitted by Ginger Bates