I will take you from the nations, I will gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your own fertile land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be cleansed of all your pollution. I will cleanse you of all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one, and I will give you my spirit so that you may walk according to my regulations and carefully observe my case laws. Then you will live in the land that I gave to your ancestors, you will be my people, and I will be your God. (CEB)
Every time I read these Old Testament verses from the prophet Ezekiel I am reminded of my time as chaplain on two cardiac intensive care units. I had several occasions to follow patients through the process of a heart transplant. I sat with them as they wondered if they would ever get a new one, as their own heart could no longer sustain the rest of their life. Would they die before receiving one? What would happen to their families?
Then, finally the day came for many (unfortunately, not all) there is a heart for them. After the incredible transplant surgery, joy abounds, knowing there is a new lease on life, a fresh experience. Through weeks or months of waiting and flirting with the Grim Reaper of death, hope is realized. Their old useless heart now replaced with a vibrant one, full of life!
However, the process is not yet over. Typically, about two or three days into possessing this new heart, a new realization comes along with it: Someone else had to die so that I could live….
He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed. (1 Peter 2:24, NLT)
Life comes from death. Resurrection can only happen when there is a crucifixion. Gaining a new spiritual heart has been achieved at the greatest of costs. “I will” is uttered nine times by God in five verses of Ezekiel’s prophecy. In gracious acts of determination to restore fallen people, God makes promises and has the authority and power to back them up. Our new heart is waiting to be animated by God’s Spirit so that our observance of God’s law is infused with divine might. Our consent to surgery is all that is needed.
Consider just a few of the great “I will” statements of Holy Scripture:
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” (Psalm 32:8, NIV)
“If someone trusts me, I will save them.
I will protect my followers who call to me for help.
When my followers call to me, I will answer them.
I will be with them when they are in trouble.
I will rescue them and honor them.
I will give my followers a long life
and show them my power to save.” (Psalm 91:14-16, ERV)
“I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NRSV)
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV)
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NKJV)
May Christ make his home in your heart as you trust in him.
May your spiritual roots grow down deep into God’s love and keep you strong.
May you have the power to grasp, along with all God’s people, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep is the love of God.
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.
May you be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
May your new heart pump with the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the encouragement of the Spirit. Amen.