A Bad Heart

What you’re about to read is an honest and personal account of a series of events that permanently altered the course of my life. It began with the unexpected discovery that I had a bad heart.  I don’t mean the vital organ that pumps life-giving blood through my veins, but the place deep inside where all my thoughts and motives originate.  Here’s how it happened:

I grew up in church and believed in God.  I knew I wasn’t perfect but felt in my heart that I was basically a decent person.  I would later find that the Bible describes the condition of every heart (yours and mine) as deceitful (Jer 17:9).  There I was, going to college and living it up (so I thought), unaware that I was deader than a door-nail in my sin (Eph 2:1); utterly lost, yet certain I knew exactly where I was going.  You get the picture.  My own heart was deceiving me.  Could your heart be deceiving you, too?

Curiously, though, my perspective began to change. I had no doubt evil existed, but I saw it as something menacing and remote.  Hitler, for example, was an evil man.  Imagine my shock when I discovered in my own heart (of all places!) a seemingly inexhaustible fountain of evil.  I suddenly saw everything in a different light.  Even the good I tried to do seemed tainted by selfish motives, or pride, or some other defect.  Now sometimes I’m a slow learner, but it didn’t take me long to realize I had a problem—I mean a BIG problem.  It was God.

I know it’s not too popular to talk about God’s anger.  We prefer a god who’s always lenient, overlooking our faults.  To our own detriment, most of us never bother to find out for ourselves what the Bible really says about God.  It’s surprising to many people how much Jesus himself talked about hell.  For example, He said “Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28).  That’s hard.  We’d really rather not have anything to do with a God like that.  So we ignore Him, or try to soften His image a bit.  But He won’t change or go away.

And so I feared God.  I knew He was angered by my sin, and rightly so (Rom 1:18-20).  Where once I had excused my shortcomings, I now had to shut my mouth (Rom 3:19).  Desperate for answers, I prayed and read my Bible.  What (or rather Who)  I encountered there changed my life.

My sin had separated me from God, which is what sin does (Isa 59:2), and I was unable to bridge the gulf between us.  I was helpless (Rom 5:6) and hopeless (Eph 2:12).  I needed a rescuer—someone to save me—and God had sent One (John 3:16).  It was Jesus, crucified and risen, that I encountered in the pages of Scripture and on my knees.  He saved me, not because of anything good I had done, but because of His mercy (Titus 3:5).  What I deserved was death (Rom 6:23), and I knew it.  But in a stunning display of love, Jesus died in my place (Rom 5:8; Isa 53:5-6)–the sinless One taking the sinner’s punishment!  Because of that one incredible sacrifice, God forgave me, as He  does anyone who turns from sin and trusts Christ (Acts 3:19; Rom 3:23-24; Rom 10:9-11).  Amazing!  It still brings me to my knees in grateful adoration.

I have just one regret.  Far too often I’ve failed to live my life in a way pleasing to the One who loved me enough to die for me.  Without exception, though, I’ve found the Scripture to be true:  “If you hide your sins, you will not succeed.  If you confess and reject them, you will receive mercy” (Prov 28:13).

I’ve written this for a number of reasons.  One of the most basic is because I care about you.  I want you to know the truth because Jesus said the truth will make you free (John 8:32).  Telling the truth could cost me a friendship—maybe yours—and that’s something I don’t want to lose.  But I’ve come to the conclusion  that I wouldn’t be much of a friend to you if I didn’t tell you what I’ve found.  I am, as someone has said, a little like the beggar telling other beggars where he’s found food.

Still, it’s a disturbing thing, this truth that frees.  It disturbs our distorted views of God and ourselves, of  heaven and hell.  It disturbs our false sense of security, that confidence we misplace in unreliable things–our selves, our possessions, family, friends, even our religion.  It reduces us to nothing and then, through Christ alone, freely offers us everything.  It eliminates every pathway to God but one:  “I am the way, the truth and the life,” Jesus said.  “No one comes to the Father except through me”  (John 14:6) “Enter through the narrow gate,” He said on another occasion. “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).  Stop and look around.  Which road are you on? It’s essential that you know.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably formed an opinion about what I’ve written.  You may think I’m crazy, or that you’ve never heard anything so ridiculous.  Maybe you think it’s okay for me to believe what I want, but it’s definitely not for you.  The real issue, however, is whether what either one of us believes is true or not.  Believing you’re on a plane for New York when your flight is actually bound for Los Angeles won’t get you where you want to go, no matter how sincerely you believe it.  Please don’t stake your eternal destination on something you haven’t even honestly investigated.  Find out for yourself what the Bible says.

On the other hand, you may find yourself deeply stirred by what you’ve just read; drawn, not so much to my words as to the words of Christ.  Though profoundly disturbing, they ring true to you.  I, or the person who sent this to you, would be happy to talk with you further.  Feel free to contact me.  Or better yet, call out to the Lord.  He’s nearer than you think, waiting to be gracious.

Don’t let your own bad heart fool you like mine did me.  “Not all those who say I am their Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven,” Jesus warned.  “The only people who will enter the kingdom of Heaven are the ones who do what my Father in Heaven wants” (Matthew 7:21).  Those who follow Christ will find peace and freedom and fullness of life unimaginable by others.  What you lose is nothing—no, less than nothing—compared to what you gain.

The Scriptures give us only two alternatives:  “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life!” (Deut 30:19)  “Christ died for all so that those who live would no longer live for themselves.  He died for them and was raised from the dead so that they would live for Him” (2 Cor 5:15).  There are the choices:  life or death, blessings or curses, living for yourself or living for Christ.  Which have you chosen?

~ Barry Wallace ~

22 thoughts on “A Bad Heart”

  1. Barry,

    I have spent the last six months, roughly 20 hours/week, doing just such a study.

    Glad to have you as a brother and l look forward to spending eternity with you.

    I recently “retired” at 50 and realized that I was an idolizer of money and had become a god unto myself. Imagine my shame and surprise!

    The last six months have been quite a journey.

    I have chronicled the whole journey in my blog.

  2. God is so amazing, and it just made my day to read this. =]

    I will pray for you brother, that you stay strong and continue to work for the Lord!

    As another has already said,
    I can’t wait to see you in Heaven!

    -Deborah

  3. Had to read this one too. Good to hear your heart and your journey.

    Judy and I now tell these stories through drama as we travel from city to city, bring local people into the cast and put on a play/production as an outreach of the church to the community. We now have 12 productions and each tells a different story, about Christ: as Mary’s Lamb, or the Miracle Worker, or The Living Lord’s Supper. Some are about towns, just like Sikeston that experience a storm and tell where people are going for eternity and why. What a great way to spread the Gospel.

    We each have a story to tell. I just heard Kathy Lee Gifford on the Today Show. She has written a new song called, “Everyone has a story.”

    When I play the part of Jesus, in The Miracle Worker, I sense the touch of the woman with the issue of blood. She presses through the crowd. You know the story. After completing the scene with her miracle, I tell the crowd why she came.

    “She came, risking her life, breaking the law, because someone else had a miracle and told their story to her and she believed it. Now, she has a story and she will tell it and others will believe as well. “Faith comes by hearing.”

    So, keep sharing your story. Good to hear it.

    Blessings & love to you, from us.

    Len & Judy

  4. Deborah

    Thanks for your kind and encouraging words.

    Len and Judy

    Wow. It’s great to hear from you. Both of you have always held a very special place in my heart.

  5. This is a very good testimony and well written. I like how you highlight the motivation for writing it..i.e. that you care for people.

  6. Bravo Barry! Loved your testimony –
    Linked here from Facebook and found many good things! Nice to be in touch!

  7. Nick

    Thanks for your encouragement, brother.

    Angi

    Great to hear from you! Drop by and visit the blog once in a while, and stay in touch. Give your family my love.

  8. Wow! This is powerful! What a blessing to bump into your website.🙂 Will be coming to this site regularly from now on. It’s so rare to see websites or blogs that speak the truth about man’s spiritual condition, hell, Christ crucified, God’s wrath, sin, repentance and all the “scary” facts that when I see one, I just celebrate! Praise God!

  9. Zhey,
    Thanks for visiting and for your encouraging comments. I look forward to hearing from you again some time.

  10. Glenda Mills said:

    Hello Barry,

    I saw your comment on Angi’s blog and she told me how to find you here. You have always been a blessing to us with the fondest of memories. It is great to see you are still witnessing for Jesus.
    Kings and Priests are we? Of course that comes after we get on our face before our Lord which I have seen you do around 28 years ago at least somewhere around that timeframe. You are a powerful man of God and we appreciate You. Romans 1:9-12 says it better. Our Love Harry and Glenda

  11. Barry,

    Great article. I and one of my virtual friends are on a similar path – it’s great to meet a kindred soul. My friend’s site is agonizomai.blogspot.com. Right now he is going through the first three chapters of Romans, it’s heavy duty and powerful stuff. There are humbling revelations of the sinful heart of man at every turn in that portion of Scripture, but it’s beautiful and encouraging because we see it from the standpoint of grace. Thank God for the cross!

    On my blog I’ve been going through Psalm 32, where we are encouraged not to hide our depravity at all. Rather, we are encouraged to bring the entire bleak truth about ourselves to God in confession.

    So, you are not alone, as I’m sure you already know. But in case you ever forget, remind yourself that a grace-covered ragamuffin washed up on the shores of your blog on October 27, 2008.

    Great to “virtually” make your acquaintance.

    Grace & peace,
    Derek Ashton

  12. Derek

    The kind comments of a “grace-covered ragamuffin” have encouraged me greatly! And I’ve been browsing through your blog and finding even more encouragement. Thanks for stopping by.

    Glenda

    One of the great things about having this blog is hearing good tidings from old friends. Thanks for commenting. Give my love to your family.

  13. i love your page, its much like my ‘how to live eternal life’ page. [but better :)]
    thank you for the comment and heads up on the broken links, i look forward to reading more from you. Blessings, brother in Christ.
    Kristina

  14. I also have a “bad heart”. One that has deceived me for so long , with what one blogger at “Like A Warm Cup of Coffee” described as “Core Lies”. Unfortunately for me, and many others to be sure, my relationship with the Lord has been “stunted” do to this bad heart. The truth does hurt and unless and until we truly believe God’s truth about ourselves, truly repent, and seek the truth with all our hearts, the intimacy He desires will be elusive. The Potter must remake this vessel and in order for Him to do it, I must believe I need to be “remade”. Can I carry my cross without seeing the whole truth of what that cross means, I cannot. Thank you for your words, your efforts, and care. I pray that we all can be lovers of the truth and walk in the destiny He has for us all.

  15. It was a shock to me and others to discover ithat I actually had a physically bad heart.. and that I could not do any physical work..God knew I had serious heart problems I was unaware of and he reduced my stress, work load.. next God gave me His work instead which is not a pain, but rather light and joyful..

    For all purposes I should have been dead by now.. doctors many times told me so as well in reality.. but Jesus himself had said he let me live cause I had served him and he continues to let me deal with issues that have really troubled me in the past, to again write about them.. even to my surprise.. One topic I wrote about elsewhere was how God turned the worst possible tragedy in my life for my best good as well… http://stayinhealth.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/when-doctors-cannot-help-you/

    What initially ALSO appeared as the most tragic demonic events in my own life next, they had turned out to be the most blessed event, even prolonging my life. There is real hard tragedy in all our lives at one time or another. For most of us, this is EVEN SO true today. With all the evil in the world, and our means to do anything about it do dwindle, now everyone will be affected by some form of tragedy. Usually, that is when most people next do call to God, either in anger or anguish. Some people do think God is fully responsible for devastation in our lives. Most believers will take on the attitude He should have done something to prevent it, or He did something to cause it, as a form of punishment. No rather God is always still aware of it, hold on God’s help is on the way too, and for his faithful ones he God turns it our for our good. I would not take back one negative event in my life because of the joy I saw next in God’s deliverance, his overcoming it.. the same negative events brought me closer to God, caused me to love him more.

    Is 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Is 61:11 For as [surely as] the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring forth, so [surely] the Lord God will cause rightness {and} justice and praise to spring forth before all the nations [through the self-fulfilling power of His word].

    Is 62:11 Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the Daughter of Zion, Behold, your salvation comes [in the person of the Lord]; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work {and} recompense before Him. Is 62:12 And they shall call them the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, a City Not Forsaken.

    God through Jesus Christ has promised to deliver us from all of sickness, sadness, sorrows, troubles even today, and we can stand on many such promises in his Word, the Bible. There is no pit that you fall into that is so deep that Jesus now next cannot still help you out off.

    (2 Sam 22:31 KJV) As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.

    (Job 13:15 KJV) Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

  16. keeplifelegal said:

    Well said,well said, well said.

    Romans 8:2….don’t forget grace!

  17. dont want to say said:

    how is it u can find comfort when there are days u just want to hang yourself

    • I really don’t find comfort in this life, or in myself. My comfort comes from God, even when times are very hard. If you would like to talk, I’d be happy to exchange emails with you. In any event, I’ll pray for you. Thanks for visiting.

  18. >how is it u can find comfort when there are days u just want to hang yourself

    NATURAL REACTION OF YOU HAVE YOUR EYES ON EARTH, MEN, THE DEVIL

    A GOOD TIME TO REFOCUS ON GOD INSTEAD..

  19. Barry,

    Randomly stumbled across this site. That’s a great testimony. Thanks for what you’re doing.

    Ron

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Ron. I see that you’ve just begun blogging. It can be quite an adventure, sometimes rewarding, sometimes frustrating, but my hope is simply that something I say may be spiritually profitable for someone, whether I ever know about it or not. Grace and peace to you, brother!

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