by Freida Harrison
Sitting at the kitchen table in my son’s house, I watched with amusement and anticipation as our oldest grandchild, Luke, read the words on the note cards that I flashed in front of him. A kindergartner at the time, his homework was to learn the basic words that his teacher referred to as “heart words.” As a retired elementary reading teacher, my job had been to help struggling readers, and this was a moment of pure joy with my grandson. He is a quick learner and was reading the words with no effort in a short amount of time.
I like the term “heart words” as we had simply called them “word wall words” when I taught reading. I wanted to know if Luke understood what his teacher meant by calling them this. He explained to me that they are words that all students need to know as soon as they see them, whether they are on flash cards, in a book, on the white board, or on a poster. They are words that need to be in his heart forever to help him with his reading. I smiled at his understanding of his teacher’s terminology and was pleased to know that he had a teacher with strong, solid teaching ability.
Memorization was not new to Luke. He had learned and recited the names of all 66 books of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation when he was two years old. His reward was a Bible from the church where their family attends. His younger sister followed in his footsteps several years later and was awarded a Bible as well.
Today as I reflect back on that time with my grandson, I realize that he has written many new words on his heart since then. Not only did he learn to read well, I’ve witnessed him transfer that learning from basic words to words that have great meaning and value. He comprehends these special words, and I have seen him apply them with friends and family. I am referring to words that build character and make the world a better place—words that God wants us write on the tablets of our hearts and use every day. Words such as: love, share, help, goodness, kindness, laugh, obey, faith, hope, selflessness. What a joy to see him grow and mature and be the young man God has called him to be.
Proverbs 3:3 says: Let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
There are many other words that the Bible tells us that we need to write on our hearts as well.
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…
In Philippians 4:8-9 we read: Finally, brothers whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Emphasis mine)
These words seem worthy of writing on our hearts as well.
Then there is that little verse in Proverbs 4:23 that reads: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
When we’ve written these words of value on our hearts, we must guard them to make sure they are safe and used as God intended. Selfishness can sneak through a tiny crevice that is around the back door of our heart while bitterness attempts to come in through a crack in the window. Pride is bold enough to attempt to walk right through the front door.
When words like selfishness, bitterness, and pride try to weasel their way into our hearts, we must reject them before they can brand themselves onto our hearts. We must guard the heart because everything we say and do flows from it. Our goal is for Christ-like words to be written there so our actions will be like His.
The good news is that if those sinful words do creep in, we have a Savior who can wipe our hearts clean of those words while keeping the treasured ones that we’ve written there.
So today I pray, Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Copyright © 2014, Freida Harrison, all rights reserved, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Bible scripture taken from New International Version 84. Photography by Freida Harrison, Copyright © 2014, all rights reserved.