Celebrating Easter with Heart
- 2007 7 Apr
There is something about a heart transplant that stops you in your tracks and takes your breath away.
The woman whom I'd just been introduced to was chatting amiably about her life and work as a teacher. Then she paused and said, "Did you know I had a heart transplant?"
Instinctively, I looked at her chest, then quickly looked away. I hoped she hadn't noticed, but she probably did. At least I had the composure to stop short of asking to see her scar.
"I used to think about it all the time," she said. " I used to think about it every day, from the moment I woke up in the morning until I went to bed at night." Joy, gratitude and a quiet reverence infused her being as she spoke of the amazing experience she'd been through.
During the days of Lent, I have replayed that encounter in my head numerous times. After all, aren't heart transplants the crux of Easter?
The no. 1 qualification for being a candidate for a heart transplant is imminent death. Without a new heart to course blood through the system, death is sure and certain. There is nothing you can do to save yourself - no medicine, no treatment, no self-help program on the horizon. Keep a positive attitude and hold a happy thought, but reality is bleak.
When the heart that fuels your arms and legs is dying and you have no power to heal yourself, you begin to look outside yourself. Those so physically weak they struggle to walk and can barely breathe, long for a new heart free from disease and damage.
When the heart that fuels your soul is dying and you have no power to heal yourself, you, too look outside yourself. Those battered by everyday hurts and heartaches, long for relief from pain and sorrow. But there lies the hard and sobering truth about life-saving transplants: in order for you to live, another must die.
Make no mistake, a heart transplant is not something you get, it is something you are given - which is precisely what makes it such a wonderful act of love.
There was no organ donor card designating Christ's heart as a gift. There was, however, a grief-stricken father who raised his head, looked at humanity and said, "Go ahead, take the heart of my son."
The greatest danger of any heart transplant is the risk of rejection. Even when the donor is a good match, acceptance is never certain. If the body insists on old and familiar ways, tissues may resist and refuse and, tragically, the transplant doesn't take.
The woman I was chatting with accepted her new heart with amazing speed. After four and a half hours in surgery, and only four weeks in the hospital, she exchanged certain death for a second chance at life. She became a new creation, throwing off the old and putting on the new.
She was alone in her hospital room one evening when, for the first time, she fully grasped what had happened. She raised her hands to the ceiling and began laughing and crying with happiness as she thanked God for a miracle.
Easter is when Christians around the world celebrate the new heart that beats within them. This is a heart transplant that does not come by way of hospitals but by way of the cross. It is a heart freely given with the promise of new life that stretches into eternity. It, too, is cause for laughter and tears, joy and thanks.
Columnist and speaker Lori Borgman is the author of several books including Pass the Faith, Please (Waterbrook Press) and All Stressed Up and No Place to Go (Emmis Books). Comments may be sent to her at email@example.com.