Our Hearts Desire
Not long ago I took a few courses in animation. In the courses, the instructors talked about principles of movement and physics, such as overlapping action and walk cycles. As I learned about these principles, I began to notice them everywhere I went. If I saw a person jogging, overlapping action would come to mind. If someone walked by, I would analyze how they were walking- did they have a limp? Were they walking slow or with a purpose? I began to see everything through the eyes of animation.
Whatever our heart’s desire is, it will impact how we view everything around us. It will change the way we see ourselves, our neighbors, and our world. I have recently been reading a book called Jesus Freaks, Revolutionaries (dc Talk, 2002). In the book there is a story about a lady named Felicitas who lived in Rome around 161 A.D.
Felicitas is told she must renounce Christ. She is first asked nicely and then, as she refuses, Publius, the prefect of Rome, threatens her with torture. She still refuses and states, “You do not move me with either your flattering words and promises nor am I intimidated by your threats; because I have experienced with my own heart the workings of the Holy Spirit who gives me living power and prepares me for the struggles of torture so that I can endure anything that you might do to me and hold fast to the confession of my faith.” (dc Talk, Jesus Freaks, 2002). I have heard many people state they could stand up to torture for Christ. What impressed me about Felicitas’ story is that she had grown so deep in her love for God that she was able to sacrifice not only her life, but also entrust her seven sons’ lives to God as well.
This allowed her to encourage her sons to stand firm in their faith even in the face of death. Her sons did just that. By refusing to renounce Christ, each of them was able to endure torture and death. She was forced to watch each son be killed and afterwards she was beheaded with a sword.
As horrifying as this story may seem, it is a great example of how Felicitas’ heart’s desire allowed her to endure these trials. She understood that if she encouraged her sons to renounce Christ instead of standing firm, that their torment would have been eternal, not temporary. She hung on to the promises of God.
“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.” “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:1-7)
Hopefully none of us will ever be tested in our faith this way. But if our heart’s desire is on God, then we will see the world differently just as Felicitas did. When we go shopping for groceries, we may notice a person in need, and buy them groceries or pray for them. Or if we are cut off by an unaware driver, we will begin to pray for their safety and the safety of those around them instead of seeing them as crazy. When we see the prostitute or drug addict, we will see them as someone Christ died for, not as a public eyesore. This new view of the world will lead us into compassion which will compel us to bring change in our community.
In the story of Felicitas we are not told of the countless people that witnessed her love for God. We also may never know if her sacrifice and her sons’ sacrifices encouraged others to take a stand. Because of our heart’s desire for God, we, like Felicitas, will no longer see and experience everyday events as the world does, but we will see them as God does. It is God’s will that our heart’s desire is to love Him and to love others above ourselves. When God is our heart’s desire, we will begin to see the world through His eyes. When seeing the world as He sees it, we will gain boldness to tell others about the Good News.