Things just aren’t made to last. How many people do you know that keep their cars 10 years or longer? Maybe a few, but not many. Some people purchase a new automobile every year or two, others hang onto them for several years. But we know that cars have a limited lifespan. Trade it in before it breaks!
The same applies to clothing, appliances, eyeglasses, even paint. Most smartphones have an expected life of two years. By the time our mobile provider contract is up, there’s a totally new version available that makes our old cell phone seem like it has a rotary dial. And computers? We might try to squeeze every day out of them that we can, but with the advances in technology, your computer is obsolete almost before you can get it home and plug it in.
We purchase things fully knowing that almost before we realize it, it’s time to replace them. “Planned obsolescence” is one term for it. Products are manufactured with enough durability that they don’t break or deteriorate within the first few months or years, but sooner or later they become old and worn, in need of replacement. Or the new version is so advanced we feel foolish clinging to the old one.
So I always marvel about the endurance and longevity of the human heart. We occasionally hear of people having heart transplants, but for most of us the heart we’re born with is the one we’ll take to the grave. That’s why coronary health is of increasing importance. People are living longer and if they don’t take precautions, heart disease looms in their future. If you have a heart attack you can’t simply go to a used heart store and get a new one.
A normal heart at rest can beat from 60 to 100 times per minute. The average person, according to the Mayo Clinic, has a resting heart rate of 72 beats per minute. That translates to 4,320 beats in one hour; 103,680 beats in a 24-hour day; 38 million beats in a single year. And that doesn’t include faster heart rates during times of exertion and stress. Applying those statistics to a 70-year human life span – and many people are living much longer than that – a single heart will beat non-stop more than 2.7 billion times. That is a lot of lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub!
In a day or so I’ll mark seven years since undergoing open-heart surgery. It involved four arterial bypasses and, for good measure, an entirely rebuilt ascending aorta. (The old one was on the verge of popping, which isn’t a good thing.) So when Christmas rolls around, I regard the past year as another gift. Other than the half-hour or so when my heart was stopped during surgery, with a heart-lung machine filling the gap, my heart has been beating and pumping without fail.
Over the succeeding years I’ve engaged in a consistent cardio exercise program (my resting heart rate is 60), I’ve tried to eat better (there’s still room for improvement), and I’ve taken my medications as prescribed. This marvelous blood-pumping machine God gave me more than six decades ago has served me well.
Most physicians and scientists would tell you the heart is nothing more than tissue and muscle, designed extremely well for performing a very specific task. The Bible, however, views the heart differently. It describes the heart as the seat of emotion – and motivation.
For instance, one translation of Proverbs 4:23 states, “Keep your heart with all vigilance (guard your heart), for from it flow the springs of life.” As the prophet Samuel searched for a new king for the people of Israel, God told him, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). And Jeremiah 17:9 declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
Obviously these passages aren’t referring to physical properties and functions of the human heart, but do suggest there may be a spiritual dimension to the marvelous muscle. For years following my surgery, I volunteered at the hospital, visiting patients who also had undergone open-heart procedures. It was not unusual for even strong, tough-looking men to have eyes fill with tears as they reflected on what they had just experienced – the fact they had ventured to death’s door and then stepped away.
So as I take time to reflect again on the blessing I have in a refurbished physical heart, I’m also reminded of Jesus’ admonition about the spiritual heart: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Perhaps He had in mind the warning from Proverbs 21:2, “All a man’s ways seem right to him; but the Lord weighs the heart.”
Where is your heart today?
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.