When my wife and I found out in April that our baby daughter had a hole in her heart that would require surgery to repair, a wave of thoughts and emotions swept over me. There were, of course, the obvious sensations – disbelief, shock, fear, thankfulness (that the problem was found), hopefulness. One thing I did not expect, though, was the odd sense of calmness and clarity I had sitting in the doctor’s office that day. In a way I still don’t quite understand, the parallels of a broken human heart and a broken spiritual heart were made very clear to me.
Once our doctor informed us my daughter would require surgery, I immediately realized her fate was totally out of my hands. I knew absolutely nothing about cardiac surgery, and that was the only avenue we could pursue at that point. I believe that is how God was first introduced into my thinking that day. He was the one who would truly determine the outcome of the procedure to come, no matter how skilled our surgeon might be. From that day on, my wife and I went through a process of handing things over to God until we finally, literally, handed our daughter over to the surgeon on the day of the surgery.
These physical terms were easy for my mind to lock onto. The spiritual similarities were numerous as well, though. For instance, had tests not revealed the hole in my daughter’s heart we would have never known it was there. To us and everyone around us, she appeared to be perfectly healthy. In other words, her outside appearance appeared to be fine while her inside state was one of decay. This is akin to our fallen state as sinners before God, in which we say all the right things, wear all the right clothes, perform all the right deeds, all while our inward being is rotten to the core without His forgiveness and grace.
The surgery on the hole in my heart was also not one I, nor any other man, could perform. I had to place my heart in the hands of the Great Physician, the same one who called Lazarus forth from the tomb. My daughter’s chest still bears a scar from her procedure, and she is still technically in the recovery stage. Jesus was scarred for me, and I now live a life that – even though redeemed – still bears scars from the past. I still struggle daily to put to death many of the sinful desires of my old life as I recover to spiritual health.
In the late 1600s, Pascal wrote of the “God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person.” In 2013, a team of doctors momentarily stopped my daughter’s heart and repaired it to normal working order. The fact that God can fill the vacuum and that babies can survive open heart surgery is miraculous to me. Holes are being filled. Hallelujah!