Today while acting in a loving way to another, I noticed my heartbeat. I listened to its sound and thought how intense my emotion, and yet, how steady and slow my heart was beating. It wasn’t beating excessively fast as it does at other times, like when exercising. Yet, the interaction I was experiencing was one of strong feelings of love, and in that moment, of sacrifice as well.
I was reminded that in ancient times the heart was often looked at as our center even in the sense of our thoughts and whole being. Clearly there have been then and through time many different ways to look at the heart versus the brain on this topic.
Analyzing the role of the heart is really not a simple analysis since we psychologically, sociologically, and biologically, are quite complex and our hearts are, in so many senses, at our core. Not to mention that our Messiah Yeshua resides within it! No matter the perspective, there is universal agreement on the centrality and importance of the heart as essential to life, including everlasting life as we think about our actions of love toward others.
Sadly, we know of situations where a person can be “brain dead” while the heart keeps beating. A close personal friend of our family only in his 40s is in that situation as I write this Shabbat encouragement. He is being kept alive in order to accomplish organ donations. Only when his heart is stopped will he actually die physically. The other organs can function, yet without the heart, they, also, cannot survive without medical intervention.
Interestingly, the liver is the one organ that when transplanted cannot only function apart from that body’s heart but can actually grow. In addition to its many other capabilities, one of its major purposes is to detoxify the body, and in doing so, to separate and process for sustenance that which is good and facilitate removal from the body that which is harmful, sometimes in purifying the blood actually damaging itself.
Without going into the many thought provoking ideas of the origins of the word “liver”, suffice it to say that I find our modern use and understanding of the word, and its closeness to the word “live” (pronounced with both the short “i” sound and long “i” sound), perfect for some thoughts to ponder, especially as we think of the liver in the way it was perceived in ancient times as the core of our beings, similar to the heart, held in high regard.
In the sense of generating new cells, the liver can survive “death” just as we “survive” death when we become “livers” in infinite relationship with our Messiah. As does the liver, we in our lifetimes are learning to separate out the toxins, that which separates us from Him. In so doing we often make great sacrifices, just as the liver is sometimes damaged when filtering out harmful substances. When we find new life in Him, we may leave behind power, wealth, status, secular concerns, sacrificially in some sense, to remove that which separates us from Him, just as the liver removes toxins to improve the body’s health.
Our Messiah Yeshua is infinite. We, though finite in this realm, work toward everlasting life with Him. Though our physical bodies die, our relationship of love of Him, which we have built throughout our lives and beyond, is infinite.
Synchronistically, though as is His way, this Shabbat encouragement falls just ahead of Valentine’s Day, a holiday I had no intention of discussing. Yet perhaps it is a perfect time to look more deeply at where we place our hearts, to evaluate what relationships, with things and people, we are prioritizing. As we love others we share His Love of us with them, and sometimes sacrificially as He so powerfully modeled for us. What a wonderful time to renew our love relationship with the One who is most important, our Messiah Yeshua whose closeness is palpable as we renew our love with our Abba.
What a great time to be reminded of the greatest love known to mankind – His love of us. In so doing, we are encouraged to reciprocate that love more deliberately, more deeply, more in awe of its reality. We are reminded to be livers of life in the fullest sense, unabashedly in love with Him with all of our heart.