The Pure of Heart

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” ~ Matthew 8:5

The Pure of Heart. There are a number of different ways we identify things or experiences that we consider to be pure. Last summer I had just such an experience that was very enjoyable to me.

I heard the local college was offering a summer sign language course. I signed up for it. I had an idea in my head what I thought the class would be like, and I looked through the book before the class began and made some notes of things I wanted to be sure to ask the instructor.

So, I was a little caught off guard when I showed up that first day of class to discover that the instructor, James, was completely deaf. James never told us exactly what happened to him to cause him to lose his hearing, but he told us that when he was 11 months old, there was extensive damage done to his ear drums, rendering him completely deaf. James could sound out some words, using clicking noises and tones representing syllables.  James was a wonderful instructor. He was patient, and funny and even picked on us when he had the opportunity to do so. A few of us learned, purely by accident, some of the “bad word” signs that happened to be similar to the vocabulary words we were learning. In those instances, it was James’ turn to become flustered.

Taking into consideration everything I learned during the course of that 6 week class, the one thing that stood out most to me, that had the biggest impact on me, wasn’t sign language at all – it was James’ laugh. James’ laugh was big, loud, bellowing …untouched by the world. James himself had never even heard how great his laugh was. There was no half-hearted laugh to feign amusement, no stifled laugh in an effort to keep the volume down. James laughed whole heartedly with nothing but pure joy behind it. Pure joy, that we got to experience, every time he laughed. And he laughed a lot. Isn’t it wonderful to know that pureness still exists in this world? And how precious are those moments when we are fortunate enough to experience it!

When I take a step back and look at my life, with everything I’ve been through, and everything I’ve done, I wonder how could anything pure could still exist in me? No one gets through this world untouched. And like a lot of people, not only have I been touched by the world, it’s flat out beat me down a time or two. And that leaves a mark just as surely as sin does. That’s where bitterness, anger, coveting… all stem from. Infertility, broken dreams, broken promises, insensitivity, frustration, betrayal, battle, condescension, these are all things that destroy what was once pure. And that’s just lightly touching the surface.

So when I read the first part of the verse, “Blessed are the pure of heart,” I say, Yes, bless them, we need more of them, bless their pure, sweet, innocent hearts. And then I read the rest of the verse, “…for they shall see God.” And I think, Just them, or does anyone have a bible with a different version that’s maybe a little more vague and encompassing? No? Then what does that mean for me?

What does it mean to have a pure heart? How can I ever get one of those?

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” That tells me right there, in and of myself, it is impossible for me to have a pure heart.

But, what is impossible for me, is possible for God. By the grace of God, I can have a pure heart.

I think a pure heart is a forgiven heart.

One night at a bible study, our lesson was based on a Rob Bell video we watched. The message had this to say: There is nothing you could ever do to make God love you less. Nothing you could ever do to make him love you less. Nothing. This message really meant a lot to me because I grew up hearing these words from my parents my whole life. “There is nothing you or your brother could ever do that would make us love you less.”

When I was about 8 years old, my brother and I accidently broke something of mom’s. I don’t remember what it was, but we were afraid to tell because we didn’t want to get in trouble. When Mom found out, she decided she needed to come up with a way for us to feel like we were able to come to her with anything we’d done. So, one day, she got us together and showed us a keychain. It was a simple little keychain with a picture of a puppy on it. She told us that any time we did something that we were afraid to tell her about, we could bring her the keychain. It didn’t mean we wouldn’t be punished, but Mom promised us that if we brought her the keychain, she would not get mad or yell, but she would talk to us about what had happened or what we’d done. We didn’t have to be afraid because she would always love us, no matter what we did. She hung the keychain low on the wall on a nail beside the washing machine and told us it would always be there when we needed it.

I remember vividly, one occasion when I used the keychain. I’d gotten into trouble for something…I don’t remember what – probably for not cleaning my room, or being mean to my brother, something like that.

I was so mad about it, in fact, that I wrote on my bedroom wall in big, capital letters, I hate mom. I don’t remember what I used to write it, but I do remember that it didn’t come off with an eraser, and it didn’t come off with water. I instantly became afraid, and ashamed. I knew three things were going to have to happen. I knew I was going to have to tell mom what I’d done. I knew that it was going to hurt her badly. And I knew there was no way around it, because there was absolutely no hiding it.

So, I walked into the kitchen. With trembling hands I removed the keychain from the nail, and with tears streaming down my face, I went to find mom. She didn’t get mad, but when I told her, she started to cry. She hugged me, and took my hand and led me into the kitchen. We got a small bucket from under the sink, got some soapy water and a sponge, and we walked to my room. The worst part of the whole thing was the guilt and shame of having to face those blatantly mean words again in front of her. She knelt down beside me, and together we scrubbed the words off the wall…every last mark. I still, to this day, feel terrible for writing it. But I don’t remember ever talking to mom about it again.

I’d decided to use this story as an illustration at church one night. I thought I’d better let mom know and make sure it wouldn’t upset her again to hear it. So I asked her if she remembered the keychain she gave my brother and I and she told me that she did. She even said she’d thought about that keychain just a couple of days earlier. So I took a deep breath and I told her what I planned to say about writing on the wall and what a horrible daughter I am, and she sat and listened until I’d finished. And do you know what she said? She said, “I don’t remember that.” She remembered the keychain, and she remembered that my brother and I had both used it a few times, but she didn’t remember a single thing we had ever done.

How many times do we fail to come to God with our sins and anger simply because it hurts so badly to have to face that sin in front of Him? How many times have we been mad at God, or too busy for God, and turned our backs to Him only to find ourselves standing in front of a wall, facing the sin in our lives, with no way to hide it, and no where else to turn? It begins with a simple prayer of complete surrender, “Lord, forgive me. Have mercy on me.”

We can’t wash away our sin without God’s help. God faces that sin with us. He washes it clean. He forgives us. And then through Isaiah 43:25 He tells us, “I – yes, I alone – will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” He forgives us because He loves us. And there is nothing we could ever do, to make Him love us less.

Blessed are those who are forgiven, washed clean, for they shall see God.  Achieving a pure heart is not something we can do once and maintain. It is a constant renewal by the grace of God.  Blessed are the pure of heart, a forgiven heart, a willing heart, for they shall see God

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10.

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3 Responses to “The Pure of Heart”

  1. Carrie-Anne,
    I remember you telling this story at evening service. It is a wonderful illustration of God’s love and forgiveness. While I don’t fit into your target audience I will check in occassionally to see how you’re progressing and to read your devotionals. What a wonderful ministry you have begun!
    May God richly bless you and J. and Mom & D.

    (I enjoyed running into you and J. recently.)

  2. Well said!

  3. This is an amazing part of you life to share. I hope to use this in my own life somehow. I have to honestly say it made me cry for so many differnt reasons & brought on so many different emotions. Thanks for opening yourself to us all.

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