Heart Transplant


In 1967 a South African grocer named Lewis Washkansky was dying from chronic heart disease. When a 25 year-old woman died in a car accident, he became the first human being to receive a heart transplant. He died 18 days later from pneumonia as the anti-rejection drugs left him susceptible to sickness.

After a decade of anti-rejection drug research, heart transplants were more successful, with many patients living for up to five years with their new hearts. Today, the prognosis for a heart transplant is for an average of fifteen years of extended life. As successful as this operation has become (3,500 annually worldwide), the greatest difficulty is the availability of donors. There are far more people who need hearts than there are hearts to give.

Would the truth be known, each of have a heart disease—not our physical hearts, but our spiritual hearts. The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus said that the heart is the source of sin, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).

We all need a spiritual heart transformation. The good news is that God is a spiritual heart surgeon. He promised the people of Israel, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26). Rather than taking a spiritual heart from another, God creates anew. Jesus likened this to a “new birth” (John 3:3). Paul called it “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

He will give a new heart to those who seek it.

Pessimistic or Optimistic?

Christians have every reason to be pessimistic about the future. Christians have every reason to be optimistic about the future.

We have reason to be pessimistic, because we know of the wickedness of the human heart. We know the selfishness of our own hearts. We have seen the selfishness of others. And when you put all of those things together, it’s no wonder then that our world is like it is. In 2 Timothy 3, Paul warns of the difficult days to come, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). If we are looking into the human heart to turn our society around, we will be looking a long time. Christians have reason to be pessimistic. We have promises in the Bible of the bad times to come.

However, we also have reason to be optimistic. Not because of our own abilities; not because of our trust in mankind; but because of the power of God. Believers across the world have seen what God has done in our own hearts to turn us from sin and despair toward Christ and joy. And as God has power over the king’s heart–to turn it like channels of water, wherever he wishes (Proverbs 21:1)–so He has power in a larger scope in our society as well. Historically, when God has poured forth His Spirit upon a society, massive changes have resulted. Study revival and you will know what I’m talking about. On top of that, we have promises in the Bible of wide-spread revival, “‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more'” (Jeremiah 31:33-34). Christians have reason to be optimistic. We have promises in the Bible of the good times to come.

You Need a Guide

Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” In other words, our hearts have an ability to justify our actions, even when we know that they are sinful. We need help in guiding our minds.

Our hearts are like brains that have been oxygen deprived. In the high altitude with little oxygen, it is difficult to think clearly.

When people attempt to climb Mount Everest, they usually hire a guide to help them make it to the top. These guides don’t come cheap. But, they are very helpful in teaching you how to acclimatize your body and prepare for the difficulties of climbing above 26,000 feet. And, most importantly a guide is to help you to be clear-thinking when your life is at stake.

When the summit of Everest is in sight, people often get, “summit fever.” They see the peak. They have paid a boat-load of money to get to the peak. And so, they will ascend to their death. It has been said that getting to the top of Everest isn’t the challenge. It’s getting back down again that’s the challenge, in the thin air with danger all around, once you have spent all of your energy getting to the top.

Before the summit ascent, the guides will establish a “turn around time.” If you aren’t within spitting distance of the summit, you need to turn around and head back down. You won’t have the oxygen to last. You won’t have the energy to descend. You won’t have the daylight you need. The guide sets that time. You pay the guide to do all that they can do to enforce that time.

We need a guide for our hearts. The LORD is our guide. “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind” (Jeremiah 17:9-10). He is our guide.

(Just last week, I read the great book, Into Thin Air, which recounts the events surrounding the deaths of eight climbers who died while attempting the climb. Another similar tragedy struck yesterday on Mount Everest).