Shhh... listen for a moment: lub-dub, lub-dub
Can you hear it? Put your hand to your heart — just about at the center of your chest. Can you feel your heart beating? The first organ formed, it begins beating after just three weeks. As an adult, on the average your heart valves are opening and closing 75 times per minute. Its tempo rises and falls with the swells of the tides of life — sometimes it beats faster, sometimes slower.
Your heart beats about 100,000 times in a single day and about 40 million times in a year. During your lifetime, your heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times. The heart works hard, even at rest — twice as hard as the leg muscles of a person sprinting. Your six quarts of blood are being circulated throughout your body three times every minute. In a single day, your blood travels over 12,000 miles (four times the distance across the United States from coast to coast). During your lifetime, your heart will have pumped the equivalent of one million barrels of blood — enough to fill more than three oil supertankers. The heart truly is an amazing muscle. It beats, without stopping, for an entire lifetime. Your circumstances and surroundings may change, yet still the heart beats regularly, steadily, without conscious control or notice on your part.
Sometimes, though, you become consciously and acutely aware of your own heart beating. It may be an unfamiliar or unpleasant sensation. Your pulse is quickened, but it is not caused by excessive exercise or stress or strong emotion. Your heart pounds, seemingly about to burst in your chest cavity, the heartbeat echoing in your ears. What is that arrhythmic, fluttering sensation? It is a rare experience not felt by all. Something is tugging on your heart strings. Your heart is being stirred up, not by any natural cause, but by a greater power. You are being roused to action.
Down through the centuries, men have experienced this tug upon the heart as they have groped for God. A man named Abram felt it on a clear, starry night as he stood looking up toward the heavens in the middle of ancient Mesopotamia. Some of his descendants felt it in the wilderness outside of Egypt as they prepared the tabernacle of worship for the God of Israel. A relative few again felt it when their time of captivity in Babylon was at an end as they returned to rebuild the temple and walls of Jerusalem.
Five hundred years after that, a Man came with an uncompromising message of love that demanded complete surrender and trust from the heart. A few whose hearts were simple and tender enough to be stirred by His message left behind everything and followed Him. Others, mostly of the ruling religious establishment, hardened their hearts and plotted to have this kind, gentle Man killed.
After His torturous execution, some returned to the city, beating their chests — a physical expression of what was happening within their hearts. After His triumphant resurrection and victory over death, His followers preached the message of a new life, and three thousand of their countrymen were pierced to the heart. Recognizing the guilt they shared in that innocent Man’s death, they were immersed, being washed of their guilt and reborn into a new life.
Such was the beginning of the most vibrant, heart-warming community life of togetherness. Yet after the span of only forty or fifty years, their once-bright light began flickering and eventually was snuffed out. The heartbeat could no longer be found.
About thirty-five years ago, in the height of the Jesus Movement, it was a time when many were seeking to be rid of stale religious rote. Many people’s hearts were stirred then, and Christian communities were springing up all around the country. But only a few years later, when the dust settled, most only ended up back in the pews.
Once again, there is a stirring in the hearts of a people. There is hope once again of living a sold-out, gung-ho, 24/7 life of a disciple doing God's will. We who write this paper for you hope that you will find encouragement and hope in the things that you read. And, as always, we warmly invite you to come and visit us. We would love to get to know you.