Every Heartbeat

Every Heartbeat
 
This is about the heart. Break it down to a purely physical description, and describe it as “a hollow muscular organ that pumps blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic contraction and dilation.” This is a start. There is significantly more to a heart. More physical detail helps. In humans there are 4 chambers, two atria, and two ventricles. A normal sized heart is comparable to a human fist and weighs about 10.5 ounces.
The average human heart rate is 60-80 beats per minute(bpm). DSC_0027ed
 
To understand the significance of the human heart rate let’s compare them with animal heart rates. A hibernating groundhog rate is 5 bpm. The Blue Whale 8-10 bpm. Horses have a bpm of 28-40. A mouse has a bpm of 450-750.
 
Invertebrate hearts are very different physically from humans. Insects are known to have an open circulatory system. Their internal organs “float” in blood. Insect blood is called “hemolymph.” Insects hearts are found in their abdomens. Usually there is a tube at the top of the insect’s back which has holes to take in the “hemolymph” and pump it towards the head.
 
Large insects like the bumble bee use the muscles of their wings to increase heart rate and blood flow and warm their bodies on cold mornings. This makes bumble bees important pollinators. They begin pollinating earlier in the day and continue longer as evening temperatures ground other pollinators. We do not know the heart rate of insects. Yet a honey bee flies at a rate of 15 mph and will travel up to 3 miles to collect plant nectar. Its heart rate must be elevated after such exertion.DSC_0023ed
 
What causes human hearts to beat rhythmically, steadily night and day for an average of 79 years? Do you ever need to tell your heart to beat? Medical science identifies the sinoatrial node as the “heart’s natural pacemaker.” This tiny cluster of specialized heart cells send electrical impulses which produce a heart-beat. It works for a lifetime.
 
Now the question behind what causes the heart to beat. What causes the sinoatrial node to send electrical impulses? DSC_0018ed
 
Have you ever taken your pulse, or placed your hand over your heart and felt your pulse? Yes, diet, stress and exercise impact heart health. But our hearts function a lifetime, and we have little to do with it. It’s really a miracle. My favorite shepherd who also was a king, David said of God, “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16) God knows your heart. He made your heart and knew how many times it would beat-before you were born. That’s how powerful, how wonderful God is.
 
There is great comfort in this. Your heart beats free at no charge for you-all of life. God does that for you. God directs the sinoatrial node to function.
 
This is also about the heart that lives beyond death, your soul. He knows the number of your days. He knows the sin in your heart for each of those days. He did something for us about that. He sent His Son Jesus to clean our soul-heart, the eternal heart, from sin which separates us from God.
 
Consider the words of the shepherd/king once more, “From his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth— he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” (Psalm 33:14-16) God is in the heart business, yours and mine. He’s the ultimate expert in hearts.DSC_0045ed

You Can’t Drink This

We agree, being big has its advantages. Think about size which provides advantage like tall basketball players and large bodied football players.

This bird has a definite size advantage. Its wingspan ranges from 5.5 to 6.5 FEET. Don’t let its weight of 4.5 to 5.5 pounds fool you. It is lightweight, all flying birds are. Walking on giant stilt legs 2 feet long or more it is able to find its preferred food, fish. There is a reason for its long neck. A long s-shaped neck has specialized vertebrae. The 6th is elongated and acts like a hinge when the Great Blue Heron “stabs” a fish or other prey. Right, stabs, look at the dagger like bill, it could be called a saber.DSC_0099_2178ed - wp

Big or not, the Great Blue Heron has no teeth.  How does it get the fish from mouth to stomach? It shakes it. Shaking breaks bones and fish spines making it easier and safer to swallow whole. It shakes all the other things it eats too. Shake it with that long neck and swallow it. Amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, including muskrats, insects and other birds. Great Blue Herons will also forage for food in fields. In a field they may find voles, gophers and more. These are Great Blue Heron food too.

Don’t compare this bird to humans. Just because it is large does not mean it is fearless. These words accurately describe Great Blue Herons: shy, reclusive, and cautious. The female in the photo did not want to fly. The male standing next to her immediately flew at my approach.

Great Blue Herons are water birds, big water birds. All living things need water. We agree on that. But this more than full-sized bird does not drink water. The water it needs for life is found in its food. While Great Blue Herons are found into the Central Canadian provinces during nesting season, they can be found year around from the mid to southern United States. Great Blue Herons frequent salt water areas. Salt water is not potable. The Great Blue Heron has no problem with thirst when life-giving water comes from its food.DSC_0109_2180sig - wp

Humans thirst too. There are two types of human thirst. The most well known is physical. The second is one which many humans are unaware. Some humans even choose to ignore or deny this thirst. The second thirst is spiritual. Miraculously, water-that’s H20, satisfies the physical need of every human. It works for a lifetime. Equally miraculous is the second water. This water works for eternity.

Every human soul has a God shaped space. Blaise Pascal explained this best when he said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus”

Jesus is the living water. Only Jesus can fill the space open for God. Like a Great Blue Heron, you don’t drink this water. You believe. Nothing else can quench this thirst. Jesus explained it best. He said, “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

This is not great. It is vast. It is enormous. Imagine living water, unlimited life and it’s forever. You have room for it.DSC_0115sig - wp

 

What is Your Plan?

Plans… we have them. We make them. They are things we intend. Plans are the ideas in our heads. Some are things we aim to complete. Some plans may have the flavor of a scheme. And since we are human there may be intrigue in them.

 

With every new day ideas fill our minds. Plans order our day. We follow plans. We write them down. Some plans are brief, get the mail, read a book. Other plans take on massive proportions. Plans to order an organization which become policies take thousands of words to express. Government plans may possibly be the most detailed, sometimes convoluted and confusing and filled with charts and tables.

 

What are your plans for today?

 

Have you completed them? Perhaps your plans have caused you frustration. What you intended has not happened. Someone close to you has done something to interrupt or block them. Perhaps you changed your plans realizing they were selfish. That’s hard.

 

Do birds and animals have plans? How about plants and things without internal skeletons-invertebrates?DSC_0127_1771sig

Have you ever seen the plan of a chickadee? Does it plan to increase the number of feathers on its body for winter? Does water have a plan? Does it plan to freeze when the air temperature reaches 32 degrees F or 0 degrees Celsius?  What about the sun or moon? Do they have plans to rise and set? You say, that’s foolishness. No bird or animal has ever planned. The sun and moon just rise and set, they follow the physical laws of nature.DSC_0041edsig

The physical laws of nature are a plan. The behavior of water freezing at 32 or 0 degrees follows a plan. The chickadee living its daily life follows a plan. The entire earth follows a plan. Our plans are puny, feeble and stunted compared to these plans.DSC_0106_495sig

The laws of nature are God’s plans. God knows your plans. They are not insignificant to him either. The Creator of the universe knows what you intend, what is your heart’s desire. His plans include you. In his word the Bible God said this, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah  29:11DSC_0178_828sig

You know our plans fail and fall apart. The plans of God never do. When you seek him and call on him, he listens. He has a plan. What is it? That you find him! What if your plan was to follow his?

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Cure Restlessness

Restless? Ever feel this way? Perhaps unsettled seems like a better fit. Or maybe its uneasy. Sometimes you may feel life has little meaning or purpose. Then consider the reflective thought of St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430): “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” You being God, the Creator of heaven and earth.DSC_0146_1330sig

The New Year is almost two weeks old. Perhaps your resolutions have failed. Possibly you find yourself with the same feelings you had at the end of this past year. One way to face the predicament looming in front of you, seek the God St. Augustine spoke of. Destroy your restlessness. There is meaning in life with God at the center. Perhaps a revised resolution for this year could be expressed in two words, “Seek God.”

God’s reminders of His presence and call on your heart is clear with every view of this earth we on which we live.DSC_0093_1404sig