Today brought the wonderful opportunity to go to Zone Conference. It was even extra special, because it was held in my (mission) home town of Napa! As we cruised through the familiar streets, I had the opportunity to ponder on the time that has past since I had called that place home. That, coupled with the message President Bunker had for us at Zone Conference, caused me to ponder the changes I could see in myself since those days.
As I stand in the mirror, I don't look too different from back then; my hair is still short, I'm still about 6' even.. I'm even still wearing the same outfit! I guess the place I've changed the most is a place the mirror can't show.
There's a quote I heard once that has stuck with me since the day I heard it:
"What you are is God's gift to you, but what you choose to do with yourself is your gift to God."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Where I see the most change is in my desires, my heart. That's a metaphor we hear all the time, isn't it? "He's had a change of heart," "She is heartbroken," or even, "I Heart NY!." It's a well known scientific fact that our brains are the center of our bodily functions, ranging from things as simple and unconscious as breathing to things as complicated as releasing chemicals that produce a vast array of emotions, such as anger, joy, and (to get to the point) love. The heart merely pumps blood through our circulatory system( which is still very important, because our brain needs oxygen to function). But why, then, is the heart so critical in who we are?
Christ said, "..I, the Lord, require the hearts of the children of men." You can find hundreds of verses in the scriptures referring to the heart. This doesn't literally mean our beating hearts, as you've probably figured out by now, but what our desires are.
The man I see in the mirror now is different than the younger version of a year ago. He's soared many highs, weathered many lows, and trudged through the no-man's land of the mundane in between. He's felt the joy of seeing brothers and sisters accept Christ's message, and give everything they had to try to follow him. He's felt the sorrow of losing yet others as they fell away from the light put before them, fading into obscurity. He's had struggles overcoming his own pride, selfishness, and disobedience. He's had times of peace, strength, and hope as he steadily learned to trust more in the Lord, and not in himself.
His desires have changed. He isn't perfect, but he knows that through the Savior, he someday can achieve his potential.
The man I see is a new man. Or rather, the same man with a new heart.
"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh."
Christ sees our hearts. He knows us perfectly, inside and out. He knows every good intention, and every secret lie. He loves us. He beckons us to Him; to learn, grow, change, and follow the path He has paved for us. He knows the way, He is the way. To do this, we must change our desires. We must change our hearts, and hand our stubbornness and pride over to Him.
When we do this, we will become as He is, and we will finally understand the mysteries, and capacities, of the heart. We will see ourselves, finally, as He has always seen us.