Christmas is a story. It is the greatest story ever conceived or told. The one about the birth of a child that revolutionized the entire human story. The entrance of its Author into the story. Coming to reclaim what is rightfully His.
In fact, to engage this story we must understand it through the language of our hearts. Since God has been writing this story since the beginning of time, He reveals why the heart is so important.
11 "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11
This idea of eternity being set into the hearts of men and women literally becomes a paradigm shift. Think about that. Eternity, full life without the limits of time, is planted inside the human heart. Every human heart. We were born into it and we were born with it. This shift exchanges our smaller story, the one focused entirely on me, and gives us God’s larger story, THE story that weaves its way into every fiber and molecule of spirit, heart, soul, and matter that exists. A larger story in which our smaller stories play a unique role.
Think of a world class orchestra performing a beautifully moving piece of music. Each chair is filled with a musician who is skilled and talented uniquely with their own instrument. None are the same but each compliment the other. The conductor is God, through Christ, who has written this magnificent symphony called the Gospel. Each of us is the musicians seated in attention to Him as he gracefully arranges what we play. The larger story is that of a unity that connects me and you with those that have gone on before us. It also acknowledges that we were born into something already in motion, a story with a history of things that have happened long before we arrived and will happen long after we are gone. It is the Gospel story that God has been telling through the ages.
Now, back to eternity. If God set eternity in our hearts it must say something about the longings we as humans experience through our lives for something more, something deeper or as C.S. Lewis might phrase it “further in and further up.” It speaks deeply to that desire for wholeness, for love, for intimate connection. It seems to sum up all that we look for but will not find this side of eternity.
“In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you-the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling names like nostalgia or romanticism or adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell though we want to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it.” C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
It is our desire that draws us into the the story. Do you feel that desire around the holidays? The one of deep longing for home (whatever and wherever that is for you)?
I can so relate to Lewis’ phrase “the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell though we want to do both.” It speaks of the story that is planted into your heart and mine. The one of eternity. The one of the fulfillment of every longing and desire we have ever had. The one of truly being home and feeling like we belong.
In this great story there is something we need to understand. The centrality of the heart. God has set eternity into our hearts. He has told us “above all else guard your heart, for out of it flows the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) He has also said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34 and “blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek Him with all of their heart.” Psalm 119:2. And then of course, Jesus taught us to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:29-30. Notice that Jesus mentions the heart first. The heart is central because it is where our relationship and intimacy with Christ take place. It is the core of who we are and therefore vitally important to the story. If we are told to guard our hearts above all else, then our heart must be important, necessary and in need of protection.
There is much at stake in this story. And you are desperately needed. You are needed to play your part and to see the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom come. Or, going back to our symphony illustration, what instrument is yours to play and play skillfully? After all, we are simply musicians attentively watching which way Jesus will stoke the conductor’s wand and have us play our unique part in His story. And don’t forget to bring your whole heart.