(photo taken at Como Park Conservatory, St. Paul, MN, 2014)
The therapist pushed gently on my back and at the same time rested her hand above my heart. And I heard the Lord ask me to give Him my heart. Like Peter, I was hurt by the question. “Lord, you know I have given you my heart!”
But His answer cut to the deep places as I realized that what He said was true:
“You have given Me your spiritual heart, but I want your physical heart and soul too. You have been trying to guard your physical heart on your own. But you can’t do that any longer. It’s too hard for you. You guard it best by letting Me hold you and guard you as only I can.”
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 NIV
The past few weeks had been hard. Harder than I wanted to take the time to admit: another medication failure that had left me reeling from violent nightmares and hallucinations; more Doctor’s questions pointing to possible new diagnoses; and finally an allergic reaction to the cleansing preparation used for the occipital nerve block. No wonder the therapist felt such tightness as she held her hand over my heart.
But my memories weren’t resting on just these past few weeks, no they had drifted all the way back to 1965, and the kindergarten class with my favorite teacher: Mrs. McManus . . .
The young girl eagerly walked the hallways of her new school. She had thought she could never leave her mother’s side, but another affection had slipped in to woo her to the classroom: the pretty young teacher who read aloud in the book corner every day.
Oh, if someday the girl could be like her teacher, what a wonderful thing that would be! She moved through the classroom so gracefully and called the students to embrace new things. Learning could be fun!
Until the day the movie projector was set up. What could possibly go wrong with a special cartoon movie? It was meant to help the young girl know how to care for her teeth. No one in the 1960s could realize the horror that a young child might take upon herself when the little “guard soldier” fell asleep on the job because his “master boy” had forgotten to brush his teeth. No one could see the sobs beginning to form as that young girl witnessed the scary germs attacking “master boy’s” teeth and mouth.
No one that is, except the beautiful young teacher. She scooped up the girl and let her sit on her lap as she sobbed out her fears. She held her while the other students looked on in shock. How could it be that bad?
That little girl’s mother had already faced many scary attacks from her own illnesses. When the little girl’s class was mistakenly shown the very same movie the next day, by a substitute teacher, the little girl made a choice deep within her heart. NEVER would she fall asleep on the job like that little “master boy” had done. She would set a guard over her care, she would help her mother in any way she could.
And the course of responsibility was set in motion . . .
But the cares and responsibilities for these illnesses, these germs, that have attacked my own systems have heaped up and heaped up beyond the point of my care. All the years of being responsible could not stop the rush of those diseases from invading my body. Try as I might, I could no longer guard my own health, only feel shame at the neglect I felt I had somehow fallen into.
Have you fallen into those same places of shame?
Is the responsibility more than you can bear?
Listen with me as the Lord would call us to offer our hearts and fears to Him.
Come with me as He invites us onto HIS lap, in the same way that my favorite teacher scooped me up, and laid such a precious foundation in my heart.
The fears and the guarding are too heavy for us.
But Jesus invites us to be held by Him, to give over the guarding to Him.
Just so that I would not be able to “tuck away” this story, and hide it for another day, Jesus sent an incredible confirmation to me the very morning after this memory was stirred in my heart. When I checked in to Facebook, my hometown’s memory page had shared a post written by my kindergarten teacher. My heart did a double-take, as I wondered if I was dreaming again.
Mrs. McManus answered my reply, that it was indeed her, and the tears burst forth again like they had more than 50 years ago. God knew that His lesson would be confirmed in my heart, as He reminded me of His gift from so long ago.
He always makes a way to redeem those wounds and to restore those beautiful moments in our lives.
And His timing is always the best.
Would you join me in prayer today?
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for keeping Your compassion and purpose alive in our hearts. Thank You for holding us through every weight of fear and confusion that settles over our lives. Please forgive us for trying to guard our hearts by ourselves. Show us how to offer back to You every part–body, soul, and spirit–as one to You. We are stunned by the lengths You will go to show us how deeply You care for us. Thank You for the promise of life-giving water flowing from Your heart to ours. We love You our dear Gentle Shepherd.
In Your name, we pray,
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in. Isaiah 58:11-12 ESV
(Thank you to two dear friends, who don’t know each other, and they didn’t know I was working on this post, but God prompted them both to send these beautiful Scriptures.)
**This post is written in tribute to my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Joan McManus Bardsley. Thank you for planting a seed of caring and being held. God is causing that seed to bear fruit in my life during this season of weakness. Thank you for showing such love to one little girl, amongst all the hundreds of other children you have cared for.**
I am linking this week with: