The Matter of the Heart

Tight end Brian Mandeville of the Northeastern University football team finally got the big deal he was waiting for in his entire football career. A tight end is a strategic position in an offensive team. (Whatever side the tight end is posted is called the “strong side” while the other side is called the “weak side.”) He got an invite to the weeklong combine where “Athletes attend by invitation only. Implications of one’s performance during the combine can affect perception, draft status, salary and ultimately career.” (Source: Wikipedia) That’s where National Football League coaches, general managers and scouts spot potential superstars. Brian psyched himself hard for the combine at the Velocity Sports Performance Center in California. But, before he could wow anyone at the combine, “doctors instead told him that he should retire before he even got started.” (Yahoo! Sports) A routine physical found a problem in one of his heart valves. It appears that, though it it’s not life-threatening, that health issue is career-killing. Yahoo! Sports commented, “How’s that for soul-crushing? A guy gets an invite to the combine, which is essentially an audition to make a career out of playing football, and when he gets there, the first thing that happens is that they tell him he has no chance to make a career out of playing football.” I don’t know which is more heartbreaking: playing football and suffering a heart attack or not playing at all. Someone offered a word of comfort, “I’m sorry [and] I hope you don’t let this news define you.”

Our heart does define us. Proverbs 4:23 tell us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (NIV) Of course, the heart here refers not to the physical organ that pumps blood but to our person. Who we really are is more important than what we do. Character matters more than career. Attitude more than the act. Thus, we have to be diligent and vigilant in watching over it. For example, bitterness should not take root in it. Forgiveness will protect it. Matters of the heart are really life-threatening “for it is the wellspring of life.” Another version goes like this, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.(NLT) Just like Brian, a heart issue utterly changes the course of our lives.

Brethren, the heart matters.

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