The Decluttered Heart

By Leanne Friesen
Pastor, Mount Hamilton Baptist Church

All the Beatitudes hit close to home, but I have to say this one always seems to get to me in a particular way as a pastor.  So much of my job involves caring for other people, through visits or phone calls or “touching base” emails. The response is usually the same – some version of “thank you for thinking of me!” or “It’s so nice to know you care.”  I’m glad people feel loved in those times, but sometimes those responses leave me with a twinge of guilt—because sometimes I know that I didn’t always care for people in my flock with the purest of hearts. Sometimes I called someone because I knew if I didn’t that they would complain.  Sometimes I sent someone a card or an email because it was something I could check off my “to do” list. Sometimes I visited someone who was sick or in hospital out of fear that, if I didn’t, people would think I was a bad pastor. Sometimes I have even resented the expectation that I do any of these things. I admit I have grumbled to myself as I have walked back to the hospital parking lot after finding out someone I had visited was due to go home the next day or gritted my teeth as a I made a phone call to someone that I did not look forward to calling.  It is true that sometimes my loving of others is not always done with a “pure heart…”

So I pray: “God, declutter my heart.  Take away my impatience, my need for things to matter, my need to prove myself as your servant.  Give me a heart like yours.” And, with this prayer, something changes – when my selfish motives are stripped away, what I discover in front of me in the hospital bed or over a cup of tea or at the end of the phone is not a task to be completed, but a person to be loved, and, miraculously, able to show me God’s love in return. And I understand again: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

 

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