A man walked into a store one day and announced that he was searching for a new heart. A salesman greeted him at the door and said politely, “Well then, you have come to the right place. We have some very nice models on sale right now and I think you might find one that suits you well. Let me show you to the heart display counter.”
“Now sir, this model is very popular. It’s called “The Caring Heart.” It is the most compassionate model we sell. It retails for $229.99 but we have it on special this week for $149.95.”
He moved down the counter and pointed to another heart. “And this model over here is called “The Strong Heart.” It’s designed primarily for athletes but it fits with most other lifestyles as well. You can take it home today for only $259.95.”
The salesman continued discussing various hearts he had for sale. “This one is “The Unbreakable Heart.” It’s a little more expensive but you never have to worry about being hurt or disappointed by anyone. It could be yours for a mere $469.95!”
The customer looked confused. “Why do all these hearts look like they’re made of plastic?” he asked. “I don’t think this is what I had in mind.” Then he noticed another counter where other hearts were on display. “What about those over there? Why do they look different from these?”
“Those are our selection of used hearts. They have some wear on them, but there are some fine models with many good years still left. But, let me advise you,” the salesman continued, “You need to understand something about used hearts; unlike our new hearts, these come pre-conditioned. Some are full of feelings of guilt and remorse; others have been damaged by years of reckless living. There are some very happy hearts here too, but it’s difficult to know which ones until you’ve lived with them for a while.”
Then the man noticed one heart that looked extremely worn and calloused. It had deep bruises and scars that indicated long-suffering, yet there was something alluring about it, something ………. different ……… almost attractive. “What about this one?” He asked.
“Oh, you don’t want that heart. It’s very old and it’s been terribly abused.”
“Yes, but what’s the story behind it?” asked the customer, who was becoming more intrigued.
“Supposedly it belonged to a very good man. Some people insist he was crazy; others say he was a prophet who gave his life away. It has even been reported that he claimed to be God and that he was beaten and killed for his teachings. Others believe this heart is the most loving, indestructible heart that was ever made ………… that may well be true since there is some evidence that he returned to life. I don’t know; personally it looks to me as though it has been through an awful lot.”
“Very interesting,” said the customer. “How much would it cost me to buy this heart?”
“Well ……… I can’t recommend it, but since you asked,” said the salesman, “The payment schedule is a little different for this heart. You can only have it if you are willing to make an exchange: your heart for this one.”
“That sounds costly and maybe a little painful,” the customer commented.
“It is a very expensive procedure. As for the pain, you must be willing to give up everything that you love and treasure, though I have been assured that the recipient of this heart will receive much more in return. If you are sincere in desiring it, then the cost is free, the purchase requirements have already been met.”
“Free? Really?” asked the customer, “How could it be free?”
“Well,” the salesman responded, “I have been told that many, many years ago, the original owner made arrangements in advance to settle all debts for anyone who would accept this heart. Apparently, he made a very large deposit into a vault in a safe place where it could never be taken away and always made available to any and every interested party. His wishes were to pay for the expense of anyone who truly wanted a change of heart, specifically for this heart. I am not an expert in these things, but I know these are the instructions he left behind.”
There was a long, somewhat awkward pause in the conversation.
“I don’t know ……….. this seems too good to be true,” said the customer.
“You may be right. Only those who would dare to venture such an exchange will know the outcome ………. But are you sure I couldn’t interest you in one if our newer models? They are much safer.”
“No,” replied the man as he sighed heavily and wiped tears from his eyes, “I know which one I need. This is the heart I have been searching for my whole life.”
Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV)
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Mugs up! Welcome to a new day, a new life, and a new heart!