Purity of Heart
Sometimes everything you know, love, and remember about a poerson can be summed up in one picture. A moment frozen in time that speaks continually throughout eternity. I have such a memory, a picture imprinted on my mind. It is so clear in my soul that if I were an artist I would paint it for all to see. But since I am not that sort of artist I must attempt to paint this picture with words.
The picture is of my grandpa. I was nine years old. I was sitting inside of a cozy classroom. Listening to my teacher. Protected from the cold weather outside. Feeling rather peaceful, for a third grader, in the presence of my friends. And I can remember looking out the window, across the dead grass of the schoolyard and seeing my grandpa. He was walking along the road. I do not know how many times this happened. I know it was many. But I remember it in one picture. His coat pulled tight around him to stay the autumn chill. His hat, that famous fedora, pulled down on his head. And his cane, the cane I use to love to play with on his living room floor, gripped in one hand.
It seems a simple picture at first glance. Not much to it. Not in today’s world where so many pictures are almost sensory overload. But to me it is a wonderful picture. It always was so. For it always filled me with wonder. It always left me with more questions than answers. What was he doing? Where was he going? What was he thinking about? Was he really talking to God? Was God really listening, or even talking back? And if so did they ever talk about me? And if so did God tell him that I lied to my teacher yesterday?
As Kierkegaard once noted, Scripture teaches us that purity of heart is to will one thing. It is the opposite of double mindedness. The single minded soul is one. It is whole. Holy. There is no extra agenda for such a person. No games. No masks. No hypocrisy. No facades. When we see a whole number we call it an integer. Likewise, when we see a whole person we call it integrity. A holy person is a whole person. One person. So simple it confounds the wise.
Scripture also teaches us that persistence, whether faithfulness or just plain stubbornness, will grant you your heart’s desire. The persistent widow got what she wanted, even from a proud judge full of corruption (Luke 18:1-8). Whether your heart is pure or impure you will eventually get what your heart desires.
Jacob (yes, even Jacob the deceiver) was pure in his persistence. Jacob saw God (Genesis 32:30). Moses was pure in his meekness. Moses saw God (Exodus 33:11). Simeon was pure in his faithfulness. Simeon saw God (Luke 2:25-32). “Blessed are the pure in heart,” said Jesus, “For they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
David who was famous for the purity of his heart said this, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).
Yes. Purity of heart is to will one thing and one thing only, the presence of the Lord.
Relationship. Presence. Surely this type of purity is rare in today’s world. A world of broken relationships. A world of agendas and double mindedness. A world of hypocrisy and selfish ambition. A world where no one is whole. Where everyone is continually fighting identity crisis. In such a world the simplicity of my painting would go unnoticed. It leaves most of us perplexed. But I assure you that my painting is pure. It is pure because it is one. One man. In one scene. Seeking one thing. My grandpa’s life was one. His heart was pure. His life was gospel.
I miss Grandpa today. But I think that it is more than a familial longing. I believe that I miss being able to see a purity of heart that willed one thing. It is almost impossible to find that purity in this world of polluted hearts that are running after all kinds of things. I long to have such a heart. Or perhaps it is more honest to say that I long to long to have such a heart.
I suspect that one day my grandpa and all who were pure in heart when they walked the earth will dance before the Lord. A coal mining accident left my grandpa crippled for the majority of his adult life. So I look forward to seeing him dance unfettered by his earthly wounds. More importantly, I would like to be in that mosh pit with him, dancing unfettered by his side.
I do not feel like I could call myself one of the pure in heart. At least not yet. However, I do feel like I understand the picture now. It is a picture of me. And it is a picture of my grandpa. This is how it looks in my mind:
I was nine years old. Sitting in a classroom. Listening to my teacher and looking out a window. Feeling rather peaceful in the presence of my friends. And I saw him. Out there. Walking in another classroom. Listening to another teacher. Looking out another window. Feeling rather peaceful in the presence of his Friend.
Eventually we will see whatever our heart desires. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.