The human heart is amazing. Consider the numbers: Healthy hearts beat 60-100 times a minute. If someone’s normal resting heart rate is 75, that means it beats 4,500 times in an hour, and 108,000 times during the course of 24 hours. Over an entire year that heart beats nearly 40 million times, and over a 70-year lifetime, that’s close to three billion heartbeats!
Can you imagine a car engine running non-stop for 70 years, or longer? It doesn’t happen. The heart is one of the marvels of the human body, especially because if the heart stops, so does life. Every year about this time I have special reason to reflect on these facts. Nearly 11 years ago (Dec. 20, 2006), I was lying on an operating table, chest splayed open while a surgical team performed multiple bypasses and built a new ascending aorta for me.
They in fact did stop my heart for a half-hour or so while the repairs were being made, attaching me to a heart-lung machine in the meantime.
So, it got a brief respite. But ever since, it’s been beating non-stop about 440 million times.
I’m extremely grateful for those 11 additional years – and for whatever time still lies ahead for me in this life. Over that span I’ve added two sons-in-law, four grandchildren (with another expected in January) and three great-grandkids. Professionally I’ve had the opportunity to write and edit a number of books and articles, and even to start this blog. God has also given me the privilege of meeting with a number of men in mentoring relationships, providing mutual encouragement for our journey with Jesus Christ.
To borrow the title of my favorite Christmas film, it’s been – and continues to be – a wonderful life, even in the midst of inevitable challenges. Jesus said of His “sheep” – His followers – “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Thanks to medical technology, a very skillful surgeon, and God’s grace, I’ve already had more than a decade to experience that abundant life He promised.
The Bible says much about the heart, although not necessarily in the ever-beating muscle in the chest sense. The book of Proverbs, for instance, comments often on “the heart.”
Proverbs 4:23 tells us to “guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Then we read, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Later we read, “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart” (Proverbs 21:2).
Acts 13:22 recounts God’s description of David, who became king of Israel, as “a man after my own heart.” Jesus spoke often about the heart, saying such things as, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). And, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart…. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, immorality, theft…” (Matthew 15:18-19).
Without question, these uses of the term “heart” refer to our motives and desires. But even though I can’t prove it, I believe there’s a spiritual component to the physical heart.
I remember during the years following my surgery when I visited people in the hospital who had just undergone open-heart surgery. I went to encourage them by sharing my own story, seeking to “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). It was not uncommon to see, even macho-looking men, well up with tears as they pondered their recent surgery and how God had chosen to extend their lives. No question, it’s a humbling experience.
So, with my 11th “anniversary” coming in a couple of days, I’m literally feeling heartfelt thanks for the extra time the Lord has provided me in this life, and the opportunity to enjoy another Christmas season with my family on this side of eternity. What a wonderful reminder that, even at times when “we are faithless, He remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13).
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” 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. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at email@example.com.