Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Shiny Heart for God

While a breeze whispered through the woods that bordered the west side of their property, Papa, Mama, and Junior Kodiak relaxed on the deck that unfurled behind their home.

Sundays were for ritual-like feasts from Papa’s prized charcoal-powered grill, and this Sunday was no different.

Mama sighed. “Delicious dear, I think I’ll make it through the rest of the day. If I were in charge, a week would have more than one Sunday; oh my, look at the sun shining through the trees. It’s sooo peaceful, however, we need to clean up our mess.”

Junior patted his stomach. “I may burst, Papa.”

Papa slid his chair away from the table. “You need some exercise. Use this steel-wool pad on the grill. That’ll keep your hands moving to match your mouth.”

“Which side of the pad do I use Papa?”

“Use either si…what do you mean which side? Wow, a gotcha. I’ll give you an attabear for that one. Try using the side that’s facing down.”        

While wiping the table Mama looked up. “Stop it, both of you. Must I get my referee’s shirt?”

Papa and Junior pointed fingers at each other. “He started it.”

Mama slid opened the patio door using her free finger “I can’t take anymore; after I put these dishes in the dishwasher I’m going catch up on some reading, until I fall asleep. Keep your voices down.”

“Yes dear. Enjoy your book-nap.”

“I intend to,” and she disappeared into the house.

Papa scratched behind his ear.

“I’ve got a question, Papa.”

“It’s your nickel, Junior.”

“In Sunday school Mr. Grizzly said God gives us a shiny heart. I’m not sure what that means. He said he’d talk more about it, but I’m curious. I don’t remember anything about a shiny heart in the Bible.”

“You’re right Junior, it’s not in the Bible per se; however, it refers to your spiritual life. A shiny heart refers to spiritual maturity.”

“How come you know so much about it Papa?  I’ve never heard you mention it before.”

Papa winked, “Lots of things I know that you don’t think I know.” Besides, awhile back Mr. Grizzly gave me a book to read about having a shiny heart for God.”

“Gee, good thing you and Mama don’t read anymore than you do; I’d have to use a library card to get an appointment with either of you.”

Papa faked a scowl. “It’s a really neat book, Junior. A shiny heart is a three step process beginning when God draws someone to Himself.”

“You mean salvation?”

“Correct, then the next step is illumination, which is God shining in you, and the third step is sanctification, and that’s when God shines through you.

“Tell you what, beings you’re younger than I am, why don’t you run into the house and grab a Bible? Don’t forget Mama’s reading, or napping, either way be quiet.

“Yepper, be right back.”

In a couple minutes Junior slowly slid the patio door shut and had a Bible in his hand.

“Glad you’re back in one piece, which means you didn’t bother Mama. Look up Matthew 22: 36-39 and read it, please.”

“Don’t think she even knew I was in the house, Papa. I’m stealthy. That’s why you two never know when I get home at night.”

Papa grinned.

Junior found the passage underlined in the worn pages of Papa’s Bible that he’d grabbed from an end table in the living room.

“Matthew 22: 36-39 says ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? And He said to him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”’

Papa symbolically put on his teacher’s hat and yanked it down. “Those verses refer to a Christian’s shiny heart. So, let’s look at a shiny heart through the lens of salvation, illumination, and sanctification.  You remember what they mean?”

Junior stared into space. “Uh, salvation is God drawing me to Him, illumination is God shining in me, and sanctification is when God shines through me.”

“Good, I’m impressed, Junior. Let’s talk about salvation first. You remember back when the three of us went for a walk in the woods and ended up finding honey?”

“That was a good time.”

“Why’d we go on that walk?”

Junior frowned. “I really don’t know. Maybe exercise, fresh air, togetherness, or maybe we just felt we wanted to walk.”

“Right you are. We just had the itch to walk and see if we could find it, whatever it was. It could’ve been one of those things you mentioned, but, it wasn’t. Instead, we found what we really needed, honey."

Junior’s eyes radiated question marks.  

Papa rolled his eyes. “Stay with me, it’ll come together. Think back how we’d walked and walked that day and were pooped and stopped to rest, and while we rested we discovered the honey?”

Junior nodded.

Remember how good it tasted, energized us, and warmed our insides?”

“Certainly do, Papa, and don’t forget who looked inside that tree trunk lying on the ground and found the honey.”

“Ya, I know, you’re the hero, but the bees flying around were a clue. Still can’t figure out why there weren’t more. But now read Romans 3:10-11.

Junior found these verses also underlined, “‘as it is written, there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God.’

He looked at his Papa, “Wow, that’s powerful.”

“Junior, those verses explain the nature of mankind. What’s God saying? ”  

“Gee, He says no one is righteous, understands or seeks Him. The emphasis is on none. So, that means if no one seeks after God He uses other ways to draw people to Himself.”  

Papa’s face lit up. “And that He does. It’s like us when we found honey that day. We weren’t looking for honey, but when we found it we realized it’s what we needed.

“We wander through life and wear out, and thru the Holy Spirit’s guidance we find the log of salvation. We find that Jesus Christ is the honey that tastes good, spiritually energizes us, and warms our heart.

“Jesus satisfies that spiritual need gnawing at us.”

“That’s awesome Papa; now what about how God shines into and out of us?”

“Ok, to illustrate illumination and sanctification, let’s continue with our experience of finding honey.”

Junior pointed towards his stomach. “Hurry, because now I’m starting to crave earthly honey. We may have to go into the woods tonight and find some.”

“When we get done talking, Junior, you’ll have enough to think about within the boundaries of our property. And, as for me, I’m sweet enough.”

“Gimme a break.”

Papa winked. “Anyway, through the Holy Spirit God shines into us when we walk our lifelong path of learning about Him. He illuminates Himself to us. 

“Illumination is like spiritual honey. What God teaches us about Himself flows into our spiritual heart. As our heart pumps this knowledge into our system its sweet aromatic richness permeates the soul of our existence, and, everyday, we are the light of God.

“The flavor of learning about God has no equal. After the first taste, the core of our spiritual being yearns for more. We make many trips to the hive of knowledge about God because the experience never loses its flavor, and we’re never satisfied.”

“Wow, Papa, I kinda feel that way now.’

“Told ya you wouldn’t need honey from the woods tonight.”

Junior began to put it together. “Then, when God shines in me the knowledge of Him He uses sanctification, or my spiritual maturity, for Him to flow from me, right?”

“You’ve got it Junior. As part of God’s Church you share your spirituality with others, and God’s Church matures through salvation, illumination, and sanctification.”

“You know, Papa, “these God-given gifts are like waking on a spring day from hibernation and not being starved. The spiritual energy we receive satisfies, and we never hunger for holiness.

“Our spiritual life is a world of honey; it’s sweet, nourishing, and never ending.”

“Well said, Junior.”  
All scripture from the NASB.

To God goes the glory for all He has done.

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