The Write Place- Curtis Bruce Kessler

September 20, 2011

The Heart Tells the Tale


The heart is so revealing. Take for instance Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”. The narrator of the short story (the ‘sane’ murderer) had an acute sense of hearing. With his murderous deed accomplished and after hiding the body parts under the floor of his kitchen, the heartbeat of the dead victim began to reach his sensitive ears. Thump. Thu-thump. Thump. Thu-thump. Quietly in the beginning but slowly increasing in volume as time went on. No one but the protagonist could actually hear the incessant rhythmic embodied call of that dead heart. In fact, in the end the heartbeat became so thunderously loud and so unnerving that he ultimately admitted to the crime! He simply couldn’t ignore the heart. Can you even imagine? You are the only person able to hear a dead mans heart. Louder and louder with each passing minute! Erie! Maddening! I wonder if this wasn’t an illusion to the protagonist’s personal demons.

Truthfully, every day, every second, and throughout our decision-making process, our heart beats with a purpose and is committed to perfect revelation. The heart is a loud reminder of who we really are inside. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” “As in water face reveals face, so a man’s heart reveals the man” (Proverbs 27:19). Sometimes we say and live one way but our heart will without pity uncover the deception. Know what I mean?

One example that comes to my mind is the Pharisees. If you asked them, they were the most noblest of all men. Yet, to the contraire, Jesus had a field day with these folks. If there were a group of people that aggravated our Lord to no end, it was these guys. He had some, well, choice words for the ‘noble’ Pharisees in Matthew 23. Jesus used hard hitting words such as hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, snakes, brood of vipers, and whitewashed tombs to describe the Pharisees. Woe! Why was our Lord so ticked? Glad you asked. He responded strongly because he could sense what no human could- corrupt hearts. In a way you had dead hearts pretending to be alive with wisdom and sincerity. Jesus confronts their condition with brutal honesty, “For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23: 27-28). Their inward corruption was intolerable because “…what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:18-19). Jesus had enough. He couldn’t ignore their offending hearts. Do you think He will ignore ours?

At various times I have a heart condition that flares up called PVC (pre-mature ventricular contraction). Most people have this condition but never have any symptoms. They just go through life unscathed, uncaring, and unknowing. I happen to be part of the “ones-who-know”, that is to say, those who are physically affected. Simply put, every moment of this irregularity is felt. PVC can occur at any time and can last a few seconds or several hours. Here’s the thing- the longer the cycle the more I can literally feel and even hear my heart beat out-of-rhythm. The whole episode is unnerving and deeply unsettling. I certainly cannot ignore it no matter how hard I try. What is fascinating is this- operating within me is another heart, a heart that is even more critical and life sustaining. This is my spiritual heart; the essence of my soul. Yet, I find myself more worried and more in tune with my physical heart than I am sometimes with my spiritual heart! What about you? We cannot be glib here!

God is doing everything possible to get our attention! “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23. Another translation says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Our spiritual hearts guide and direct all that we do. Every word that comes out of our mouth starts in the heart. All of my actions and choices are driven by and through the spiritual heart! There are no excuses. You cannot play the blame game here. The way we act, behave, live, work, and make decisions originates within our own individual hearts! What have you allowed into your heart? Who has your heart? I wonder when Jesus looks deep into our hearts what words would He use to describe us. Hypocrite? Faithful? Rebellious heart? Broken contrite heart? The heart (your heart) tells the tale.

Bruce Kessler, elder South Canadian Valley church of Christ

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