God the Heart-Breaker

But to this one I will look:
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit,
And who trembles at my word.
Isaiah 66:2

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and contrite heart, O God,
You will not despise.
Psalm 51:17

I’m not sure how often God tunes his radio to pop music, but when he does, I suspect he rocks to Taoi Cruz, “I’m Only Gonna Break Your Heart.” It may not be the most successful pick-up line (“Hey, Baby, how ‘bout you let me shatter and splatter your heart into little bitty pieces?”), but at least both artists are upfront about what kind of partner they are. God’s love language is physical touch—he touches hearts. Or more accurately, he manhandles hearts. No patron saint of cardiologists is he. He takes the very core of your being into his hands and initiates demolition. It’s not pretty, what the Lord does. The heart is a fortress of idols, of pride, of envy, of all kinds of nastiness. And it must be stormed, its walls scaled, its entire edifice razed. So God says. The victim of this divine attack does not understand, and certainly doesn’t appreciate, that “this will all turn out for the best in the end.” To him, to her, that cliché is bullshit at best, schadenfreude gilded as piety at worst. All the victim feels is pain, anger, resentment, doubt, fear, loss, guilt, rebellion, and many other niceties. Sometimes the more the God attacks, the more the heart rebels. Tear down the wall of pride, and I’ll build a greed wall twice as thick. Raze my anger and I’ll erect a tower of lust. I’ll show God. A white flag is never flown over the heart; surrender is not in its vocabulary. But that word is never uttered in heaven either. The Lord is no quitter. He’s a relentless destroyer. He will not cease until he finds his delight: a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart. When around his feet is the rubble of what was once an intact heart, a whole spirit, then a smile begins to play around the corners of his hard mouth. For then, and only then, once he has achieved complete destruction of my innermost being, will he begin rebuilding. He will take my heart of stone, pulverized into dust, spit on it, and mold from the mud a heart of flesh. He will remake me in his own image. Chances are, however, that I will not know this while it’s happening. My heart will not suddenly feel aglow with divine similitude. It will hurt. Pain and loneliness will still kiss me with their jagged teeth. But the Lord will be happy, finally. And maybe, if I’m lucky, he will let me in the joke, so I can manage a laugh or two myself, as I slog on through this vale of tears, toward the ridge of hope ahead. When I arrive, I will see, with eyes aglow with joy, the hidden plan of the breaker, and healer, of hearts.