1 Kings 4:29 (NKJV) – And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore.
… largeness of heart.
How different would this world be if we all enlarged our hearts just that little bit more?
As a teacher, I often wish my students would enlarge their hearts for one another. In class, we often talk about ‘filling buckets’, which means using words of encouragement that will fill, rather than empty a soul. It’s amazing how many students can discuss this and share incredibly thoughtful ideas, then go straight out into the playground and exclude someone, or use the very unkind words that we identified would indeed empty one another’s buckets.
To have largeness of heart…
I’ve no doubt Solomon’s largeness of heart came as a direct result of his wisdom and understanding. Wisdom can keep us from acting out on impulse. One who has wisdom is more likely to use self-control. One who has understanding would also have compassion and empathy. In today’s world, where people are using weapons of destruction made from metal, alongside weapons made of words, it is difficult to see clearly those with that ‘largeness of heart’ that Solomon possessed.
‘Largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore…’
Term break began over a week ago and on the last day, my family and I left straight from school and drove two hours down south to our favourite holiday destination, Gerringong, in New South Wales. While it is Winter here in Australia, the weather was quite beautiful, and our kids even played in the lapping waves while we sat on the sand, soaking in the landscape.
Whenever I sit on the sand, I am reminded about the awesome expanse of God’s creation. In one place, you can see the detail He has placed into the minute… the grains of sand and the tiniest of shells, alongside the overwhelming beauty of the ocean, which is ever-moving, ever-changing.
Each time I pick up a handful of sand, I am reminded of His Word,
Psalm 139:17-18 (NKJV) - How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.
Imagine if our thoughts about others were like God’s thoughts about us. Imagine how full our buckets would be. Imagine the overflowing, never-ending cycle of soul-filling, life-giving love that could be, if we could all learn to see each other as our Heavenly Father sees His children.
For my birthday, my brother gave me a copy of Andy Stanley‘s Visioneering. Being a teacher, reading for myself is a rare occurrence, so to be given this just before a break at the beach was perfect timing. This book has been encouraging, challenging, inspiring and timely for me at this point in my journey.
I love teaching. I love Kindergarten. But, at times, the workload is too much. The deadlines cause extreme anxiety. The fast-paced environment allows me no time to stop and breathe. However, I am blessed enough to be in the most beautiful of school environments. I know it is a blessing. Despite this, there are times I question what my real purpose is underneath the piles of programs, accreditation paperwork and recording of student behaviours. These tasks to me often feel like what Andy Stanley describes as “filling bags with dirt”. He states that if you are working on a task like this, with no purpose, you will quickly become disillusioned, and understandably so. But he goes on, people who are filling bags with dirt to save a town, have a greater vision, and this “vision provides motivation”.
This struck a chord with me. I have viewed the tasks I dislike in my job, as shovelling dirt on more than one occasion. As Andy Stanley states, if the position you are in now is a greater part of your future purpose, then you will be motivated to press on, to keep going. He draws upon the experience of Nehemiah in the Old Testament to support his point. Nehemiah had a vision, he prayed about it and waited on God to provide. Part of God’s plan was that Nehemiah would be in the very position he was in (cupbearer to the king) to allow the vision to move forward into action at the appointed time.
Part of what I believe my vision involves is enlarging my heart to the world. I know I will need wisdom. I know I will need understanding, and even though, at times, I don’t like it, I know God has me where I am now, to grow my character, to equip me for the vision He has instilled within my heart. There are plenty of times I don’t see the point. I do not cope well with staff meetings even though I know they are vital to the smooth running of the school. I become frustrated that much of my time off-class becomes filled with menial tasks of little consequence, to the point I cannot see the bigger picture. At the heart of what I do, I want the students I teach to know God and go out and love others as Christ has called us to. Imagine if every bunch of twenty-plus students that left our care, were ready to share the love of Christ with the broken, the hurting, the lost, and the homeless.
Enlarging the hearts of others starts with enlarging our own hearts. And before that, it begins with prayer. It was God that blessed Solomon with wisdom, understanding, and largeness of heart. Solomon could not do that on his own. We need to seek God first and ask for these things. If we do, He says He will not refuse us.
Luke 11:10-13 (NKJV) – For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
In this broken, thirsty, pain-filled world, we need to be the hands and feet of Christ. We need to cast His beautiful light out into the darkness to prove that God exists. To show that hate and evil has been overcome. We need to teach our children to do the same. To seek God out in prayer, to be brave and to have vision. Because I believe our vision (if born from a righteous heart) will always be part of God’s vision… to seek and save the lost.. to cleanse the world of sin, by His love, mercy, and grace.
What this world desperately needs now is love.
So, will you do it?
Will you ask God to enlarge your heart today?