Having a heart

Lyrics from a Michael W. Smith song give meat and bones to an idea whose bare bones lie in front of me as I walk the hound:


“Guarded and cynical now

Can’t help but wondering how

My heart evolved into

A rock beating inside of me” (Missing Person)


I like to think I’m a caring person. I cry to ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Passion of the Christ’. I love my family, but I realise while walking the dog that I care about a few people but have largely grown apathetic about others.


I’m not talking about people dying, because who doesn’t care about that? I can’t really categorise it by socio-economics or politics, but I realise that I don’t feel in touch with the human race in general.


Perhaps part of it is seeing less of people, feeling more isolated. Part of this horribly mangled lockdown that we are all mandated to participate in.


Like Michael W. Smith (saying Michael Smith while leaving out the W. is as awkward as saying Samuel Jackson without the L.) writes: how did it happen that he’s become uncaring like this?


My heart is literally like a rock beating inside of me.


I have to perform an internal diagnostic, right there while walking the dog. Is my heart isolated from God too?


I suddenly want to know by feeling. I know my connection to God, and can cite Scripture as proof. But I want to feel what I know.


I want to feel moved, feel connected to Him. After all, it’s the easiest thing in the world to morph into a Pharisee, being legalistic but basically like a tomb.


I think of that passage in Ezekiel where God promises to give Israel a heart of flesh in place of their heart of stone.





Basically, God is talking to his people, how they were expelled from the land and the land kind of misses the people and animals being on it. Almost like the land is lonely.


Because God is serious with zeal for His Name, He had to get the Children of Israel to leave, but it is equally true that because He is serious with zeal for His name, that he has to bring them back. But not before some changes are made.


They needed to be changed: restored, cleansed, with a new heart (of flesh) and filled with the Holy Spirit.




I think of John Donne’s poem asking that God would ‘batter [his] heart’ because until then God had been so gentle with him and he realised God had to break him down to build him up properly.




I realise that the human heart is partly understandable, but largely mysterious, and even more obstinate when it comes to change. But that it cannot resist a holy and beneficial invasion from God who knows it, and even more incredibly the individuality of each one separately.


So, 2021 picked up right where 2020 left off, and things did not improve. I wasn’t lulled for one moment into thinking things would get better, but whatever the prize for that prognostication is, I don’t want it.

Earlier this week I had to go to the local constabulary to get a document attested to and on walking into the reception area was confronted with framed photos of smiling government ministers, which really annoyed me and didn’t help things.

I haven’t been skating above things like Marty McFly on his hoverboard, I’ve hit the dirt, lost perspective.

Each day is a waking nightmare of police overreach, stamping of the constitution underfoot and diktat. But I don’t need to tell you that dear Reader. You too are drowning and I’m describing the water.

This week I was reading through the 10th chapter of the Gospel of John. Wondering whether people are like sheep in the sense that they are gullible, or because their rump is delicious for the wolf to bite down into (I’m pretty certain of who the sheep and who the wolves are).

The wolves in this chapter represent enemies of Christ who attempt to kill and scatter his flock. In general, I look around and foolishly read the news and see wolving and sheeping going on all the time.

There are a lot of wolves in the world. Regretfully, too many people in positions of power easily bare their lupine fangs. Their wolfishness is not the context of John 10 though.

But the Christian is described as being part of a flock of sheep, defenceless but for the Shepherd.

Being a suburbanite, I had to look up what sheep are really like, beyond the taste of lamb chops, Christmas lunch and Shaun the sheep on Wallice and Gromit.

Sheep apparently have poor eyesight, specifically poor depth perception. So, if a sheep ever had to wonder into a forest, he would not be able to see the wood for the trees. Literally.


They compensate for this by having excellent hearing. Sheep are more intelligent than their unfortunate reputation for stupidity and can recognise up to 50 faces and presumably, voices.

Jesus was spot-on when he remarked that his sheep follow him ‘because they know his voice.’ The context of John 10 is the sheep not following the fakes and phonies but the real shepherd.


My depth perception is off . There is crazy stuff happening all around, smiling wolves, the darkest valley. But I have a Good Shepherd.

I will fear no evil, for my Shepherd is with me.


“Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.” (Psalm 23:6 NIV)