(with thanks from my friends at www.sepsocal.com for the analogy)
The human heart is a marvel of engineering -- beating about 70 times a minute, over 100,000 times a day on average. Its four chambers collect blood from the veins, push it to the lungs, collect it, then send it out to the body again, in a double thump-thump beat that is recognized as a sign of stability and comfort.
The heart's chambers are also a model of how God deals with all of us as his beloved children.
The task of the first chamber is to gather up from the rest of the body the tired blood that no longer contains life-giving oxygen. That blood needs new life -- new energy -- and can only receive it by returning to the heart for renewal. The second chamber pumps that blood into the lungs. That 'old' blood is buried, in a sense, in the life-giving oxygenated sacs that take away the carbon dioxide and renew the blood as the carrier of life.
The third chamber receives this renewed blood from the lungs, collecting what has now been filled with the 'breath of life.' And the fourth chamber powerfully propels the life-giving blood out into the body, distributing that renewal wherever it is needed.
These four chambers represent our spiritual rebirth. The first chamber shows we must "Return" to the heart of the Father, who has called us out of the lifeless existence we have without him, and that he accepts us in his grace. The second chamber says we must "Let Go" of the old, death-bound idea of independence from God, change our attitudes toward him ('repent', in biblical terms) and be buried, as it were, in the waters of baptism. The third chamber tells us to "Be Filled" with the Holy Spirit and be prepared by his work in us for greater spiritual service. And the fourth chamber says we aren't just called to enjoy this ourselves, but our calling is "And Go" into the service of God, giving that same life we've been blessed with to others we meet.
Those four double-beat terms are a reminder to us, just like our heart beats constantly with a double-beat life-giving rhythm, of the infinite love of our life-giving God who wants all of us to "Return" "Let Go" "Be Filled" "And Go". Our Father calls us back to himself, urges us to give up our lives of sin and selfishness, be renewed by the Holy Spirit's life-giving presence, and then spread his life-giving message of grace to all his other children who are starving for that new life.
Next time you feel your pulse, or hear a heartbeat, stop and appreciate those four chambers beating so faithfully on your behalf, and hear the voice of our Father calling out to us: "Return -- Let Go -- Be Filled -- And Go." I don't think I'll ever hear a heartbeat the same way again. Will you?