Before surgery, Richard could barely walk the short distance from his living room to his bedroom without turning blue and gasping for air. With his mind fuzzy and ankles swollen, he felt much older than his 45 years. Doctors told him he suffered from cardiomyopathy, a disease killing areas of his heart muscle and hardening it with scar tissue so it no longer pumped blood properly through his body. Unless he received a new heart, he had a severely limited life expectancy.
When the hospital pager he always carried beeped for the first time, he knew his turn for a new heart had come. After the surgery, even through the fog of pain and drugs, he could feel new life in every part of his body. His family marveled at the pink flush in his once gray cheeks and the returned warmth of his hands. In place of his worn-out heart pumped a strong healthy one, restoring his future and his hope.
Actually, God was the first heart transplant surgeon. Ezekiel spoke this prophecy from God to the Israelites exiled in Babylon, “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ez. 11:19 & 36:26) God’s promise was not for a physical change of heart, but for a spiritual one, involving mind, emotions and will.
God may have allowed the Israelites’ exile to Babylon because of their disobedience, but He was not giving up on them. Through Ezekiel’s prophecy He promises to restore them to the land of Israel, completely cleansed of idolatry and with a heart to obey Him. By the promise of a new heart, God offered spiritual regeneration. Through the provision of a Savior, Jesus Christ, God also gives us this promise. He has the same requirements of us as He had of the Israelites; “Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.” (Ez. 19:31)
If we turn from our sin and accept the redemptive work of Christ, He will give us a new heart. Our old “heart of stone”, rebellious towards God, will be replaced with a “heart of flesh”, teachable and open to His Spirit. God declares He will bring about the change, but He calls on us to affect the change by making the decision to believe in and personally accept Christ. Then the surgeon immediately goes to work, removing our old sinful nature and giving us the very heart of His precious Son in its place. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Richard will always be indebted to the family willing to give the healthy heart of their dead loved one so he might live. Every day he thinks about the person whose heart now beats strongly in his chest and he is filled with thankfulness. He takes good care of his new heart with regular doctor check-ups, a healthy diet and exercise. He knows he has been given a miraculous second chance.
Christ died, not accidentally but intentionally, so He could give us His heart, resulting in eternal life with Him in heaven. A new heart from Christ also means we have a divine opportunity to make a difference for Him while here on earth. Sharing your heart with someone today could result in them receiving a spiritual heart transplant that will change their eternal destiny.