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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The Dangers of a Velcro Heart….

 The Dangers of a Velcro Heart….  To what or who are we attached?

It was July 1978, and we were attending a reception as part of the newly commissioned missionaries in Richmond, VA at the home of the Dr. Baker James Cauthen, then Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board [later, International Mission Board]. We were excited and moved at the testimonies of the others that had responded to God’s call as we had done and were soaking in the wisdom from veteran missionaries and Dr. Cauthen. In a small group that had gathered around him, he shared some wisdom that had been shared to him as he and his wife were preparing to leave and serve in China years before: “Never wrap your heart around what you can carry in your hands…” Though I understood what he meant; the implications of the statement grew over the next several years.

God was so gracious. During orientation and the year of language study we developed friendships that we cherish to this day. After completing a year of language study in Costa Rica, we had to stay an additional two months for the birth our our youngest, David, and because of the war in Nicaragua, the country to which we were headed. We had excellent care for our newborn and proceeded to war torn Managua, where things were difficult and many things were scarce as a result of the fighting. Dr. Cauthen’s words would come to mind many times during the next years as we completed our first term and were unable to return because of the continued conflicts. God then opened the door for us to serve in Panama. During the next ten years God continued to show His love and faithfulness, as we grew to love the people, and loved the ministries to which God had called us. The embargo and invasion gave opportunity to see God as work even more.

God was so gracious. Later God led us to fill a need at the Baptist Spanish Publishing House in El Paso as a music editor, where we worked and served in a local church for six years until God called us to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to do doctoral work. God’s call to make disciples and train leaders developed into a teaching role. During the next twenty-four years God provided and walked with us as we became professors at the seminary, taught in Cuba, walked through the death of our parents, and through cancer for both Kathy and me. Dr. Cauthen’s words began to take on expanded meaning: we must always be careful that we don’t attach ourselves to the things which make us comfortable, but places, or even people as well. We can love, appreciate, and thank God for them but never let them supersede the priority of Christ as our highest desire in our lives.

God is so gracious. This year we “retired,” though we still will have a limited teaching role and moved once again this time to be close to family. We have loved the people in every place God has allowed us to serve, however, He has led us to not “hold in our hearts a place, but the person of Jesus.” Paul’s admonition in Col. 3 has been a part of my call from the beginning and now has taken on new meaning: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” [Col. 3:1-2] As we approach this final part of what God has called us to here in this life , we want to continue to have the right focus.

Our desires for people, places, and things are so much like Velcro, grabbing our attention and our affections that we miss the ultimate purpose and calling in our lives: an eternal relationship with Him. I like what C. S. Lewis said in the Weight of Glory:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

My prayer is that God would help us deliver us from our Velcro heart and mold and shape our hearts to long for Him.

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