If you’ve ever watched one of the myriad TV hospital melodramas, you have likely been enthralled by the scene where a patient is laid out on the operating table, the doctor fighting to keep her alive, when all of a sudden the heart monitor lights up like it’s the Fourth of July and the patient begins to convulse. The doctor frantically reaches for the defibrillator and screams,
Then she drops the paddles on the patient’s chest and sends 360 joules of electric energy through the heart. The patient flails into the air and then falls still and lifeless. Everyone stares expectantly at the monitor as the heartbeat flatlines. The doctor waits helplessly; the watching husband cries softly; the camera zooms in on the monitor’s pulseless line. Just when you feel your own heart is about to explode a small rise appears on the screen. A faint, steady, and true heartbeat reappears and the patient is saved.
As I recently renewed my CPR certification I learned that when a person is in cardiac arrest their heart is going through electrical chaos, receiving multiple signals simultaneously which causes the muscles to contract all at once or out of sync. The defibrillator sends a shockwave through the heart effectively erasing the electrical noise and stopping the heart so that it can again pick up the true and proper rhythm for life.
What a picture of the human heart! If your life is anything like mine, it feels like you’re receiving a thousand different demands and each one is claiming to be of critical importance. Instead of a calm, steady, and intentional rhythm to life it feels like a frantic, chaotic, and disconnected scramble. Nothing illustrates this better than Sunday morning.
Each Sunday morning I wake up in a panic. I rush downstairs and spend the early morning hours trying to get all of my teaching preparation back into my heart and head. As I’m working, a list of people that I need to try and talk to begins forming in my head. The list quickly gets longer than humanly possible to accomplish in the 25 minutes between services. I begin to hear the sounds of my children waking up and realize that I’m about to be late for the 8:10 service. I rush out the door weighed down by the guilt of leaving my wife alone to dress, feed, and prepare our kids’ hearts for worship. As I stumble into the pew in the middle of the first hymn my mind is flooded with thoughts beginning with “don’t forget to…”
If I’m being honest, I often think, “This is the last place I want to be right now. I have way too much I need to do!”
Instead of a calm, steady, and intentional rhythm to life it feels like a frantic, chaotic, and disconnected scramble. Nothing illustrates this better than Sunday morning…
And then, slowly and faithfully each week, my heart begins to quiet.
I hear the words of David call me into worship, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And Earth has nothing I desire besides you.” (Psalm 73:25) And my desires immediately come into focus. I see them line up before me and they are no longer equal in force and demand: now I see their disorder. Their power and authority begins to weaken.
And then we sing – songs of praise and wonder to the living God cross my lips. His beauty, faithfulness, and power are held up before me in such a way that I find myself less and less wanting to take control and rule and more and more longing to submit and serve.
We move on through confession and I feel my blood pressure begin to drop as I honestly look at my heart, my motives, and my purposes in light of Christ’s sacrifice. And the realization that Christ sees and knows the depths of my heart and says, “That’s why I have come!” fills me with thankfulness.
And then a dear friend stands and, from the riches of a week’s worth of prayer and labor, opens the Word of God and proclaims the two wonders of God’s redeeming love and my unworthiness.
Worship. The chaos in my soul is quieted. My heart is restored to the rhythm of life. There’s no place I’d rather be.