When you let God bind up your broken heart, an amazing thing happens. Your heart’s capacity to love is increased in incredible ways. It almost makes you grateful that your heart was torn because the after effects of observing God’s love gaining more and more power in your soul by His healing touch were probably impossible had your heart not been severed right down the middle.
The largeness of a broken heart reminded me of one of my favorite books. It is Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son. In this book Henri Nouwen is inspired by Rembrandt’s painting by the same title. A poster of the painting captured his attention and led him to the parable in Luke 15 that inspired Rembrandt to create the characters on canvas. His book basically has three lessons. First, we are all like the prodigal son; we have all left the home of God’s love and acceptance by indulging in the world thus drowning out God’s call to our eternal goodness. Second, we are all like the elder son; we have all left God’s love and acceptance, though appearing to follow God’s call yet without love as 1 Corinthians 13 describes. Lastly, we all are called to become like the father in this parable—gaining such a deep and powerful love from God that we become free to love others for His sake. Henri Nouwen contrasts his own state of being with the love he observes in this father when he writes:
“Against my own best intentions, I find myself continually striving to acquire power. When I have advice, I want to know whether it is being followed; when I offer help, I want to be thanked; when I give money, I want it to be used my way; when I do something good, I want to be remembered. I might not get a statue, or even a memorial plaque, but I am constantly concerned that I not be forgotten, that somehow, I will live on in the thoughts and deeds of others.
But the father of the prodigal son is not concerned about himself. His long-suffering life has emptied him of his desires to keep in control of things. His children are his only concern, to them he wants to give himself completely, for them he wants to pour out all of himself."
Psalm 119:71-72 says:
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Psalm 119:32 says:
I will run the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart.
When God binds up your broken heart with the truth of His word, agape love will pour out and actually become stitches that heal the wound. When your heart understands that God’s love is unfailing, eternal, powerful, life-giving, hope-building, restoring your soul, you will experience what Dr. Suess described:
“And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say—that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then-the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!”
Unfortunately, the father in this parable could not demonstrate the love described by Nouwen had he not experienced a broken heart by the actions of his two sons. This father wasn’t even a real person by all accounts; rather he was an illustration Jesus used to broaden our minds to the unreasonable, extravagant love God has for all people—both Jews and Greeks. His heart is always eager to come to us and bring us home. It usually requires our own brokenhearted state to make us remember we need the love of our Father. But when we finally make it home, are embraced by our Father and receive His love and forgiveness, our broken hearts get sewn back together with His chords of love. Perhaps it is the stitches of love that create the capacity of our hearts to expand. His love enables us to genuinely love the very people who tore our hearts in two.