How God Gave John Dozier a Heart for the Heart of the Heart
When I was a little boy I had the unfortunate experience of having to constantly escape from “the perfect storm” of criticism, shame and anonymity in my own home. One way I would hide and harden my heart from the wounding was to have some imaginative fun and play in the creek in front of our home. It was a wide and lengthy creek with lots of places to play and be unseen and protected by the dense woods and undergrowth. It was my own private world. Or so I thought…
My favorite things to do in the creek were talking to my imaginary friends, building dams, and breaking rocks. In fact, I became very adept at breaking all sorts and shapes of rocks. I would break them into the largest pieces possible so I could see what cool shapes, colors, and sparkly objects were inside. As I learned much later in my life, by breaking rocks and looking inside, my deepest needs and hopes were to find something beautiful, sparkly and treasured inside my own stony heart—which had become as hardened and compartmentalized as the flinty-hard stone pictured here.
When I was about 11 years old, I carefully positioned a hard, deep reddish-maroon colored rock on top of a larger “anvil rock” and broke it perfectly in half. To my absolute amazement, one half of the rock revealed the miraculous shape seen in the very same rock pictured here [see inset image]! I immediately ran home and showed it to my family. We all agreed that the nearly free-standing shape inside the perfectly rectangular cavern in the stone was a “window”. Yes, a window. For many years I kept the rock in a safe place and never paid much more attention to it.
At the age of thirty-one—after I had become a Christian—I took the rock out of its storage place. At that moment I immediately saw the shape as it really was—a cross. Over the years, I had completely forgotten that we ever called the shape in the stone a window. How could something be so obvious at one point in my life, and be so completely different at another? I believe there is only one answer: I was different. I had radically changed. And God had a special and marvelous plan for my story… to impact other’s story with the same Good News and mercies I had received from God. What do you see in the stone? A window into your heart? Or the cross of Christ within? Perhaps your answer is both. Or neither… The answer might depend on the nature of your own story and your present heart and life circumstances.
Today I believe in the core of my being that God gave me a very special and miraculous gift that day as I played in the creek. God gave me the gift of a window into my heart that revealed something very special inside: a lovable, unspeakably valuable, and treasured little boy of inestimable worth. He also gave me the unmerited and grace-full gift of the cross in my heart as it would appear in my adult life after my heart had been broken apart, redeemed, and born-again by Jesus Christ—and some of His loving follower-friends of mine.
God gave me the astounding gift of redeeming the pain and suffering of my past and providentially taking this opportunity to tell you this story of my wounded, hardened and redeemed heart so that it might be a story of remembering, hope, exhortation, and encouragement to all the people God providentially places in my life.
I know more deeply and profoundly than ever that God redeems and softens all of the hardened parts of our hearts by…
- Regeneration, conversion, faith, and sanctification (maturity) in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord
- His Word in Holy Scriptures
- His “still small voice” heard and responded to in obedience
- The Person of the Holy Spirit
- Deeply painful and joyous circumstances that can be used by God to help conform us to the likeness of His Son
- The community of The Church (The Body of Christ)
- The community of believer and non-believer messengers God sends in the form of our closest relationships and complete strangers
- The Sacraments
- The act of providing the reason for our faith to anyone God puts in our life
- Christ-like service, compassion, and comfort to others in need—especially orphans, widows, the poor, and the marginalized and disenfranchised
These dynamics transform a stony heart into a heart of flesh so that we might have a heart more like the heart of Jesus Christ. Are there people in your life whom you love enough to help them remember the nature and value of their own personal story, the true nature of their heart? How well do you know your own personal story and how God is using the most intimate details of your story to ignite His purpose and passion for your life and the lives of others?
Offered in deep respect and whole- and hopeful-hearted love and truth, John O. Dozier, Jr.
“They [the obstinate Israelites… God’s people] will return to God and remove all of their vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. THEN… they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. THEN… they will be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:18-20-parenthesis added)