Thursday of the second week of Lent

The heart is more decetiful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
“I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the result of his deeds.”
                                                Jeremiah 17: 9-10

*        *       *

Jeremiah 17:9 might well be a contender for my favorite verse. It is certainly one that I have unintentionally committed to memory. The heart is deceitful above all else–I have found that to be true of my own heart in particular. From time to time I would read the responses of the celebrity of the week in one of the weekend editions of the newspaper. I was always amused at the responses to: ‘what would your superpower be?’ Easy, I thought: mind control. Then one week I read a response that put me to shame: ‘the power to make people’s dreams come true.’ And I realized that mind control would be incredibly useful: control of my mind.

The heart is more deceitful than all else, but God finds it out. And the interesting thing about it is that God rewards what comes out of the heart: the ways, the deeds. I am the first to admit that my heart is deceitful, and I know my own capacity for self-deception. Yet I, even I, ought to be able to read some of the clues, to interpret the tea leaves of my actions. If I am neglecting my family or lacking in love for them, if I am impatient with people or half-hearted in my work, I can discern something about the state of my heart. And I can look back and see now what I should have seen then: my heart was deceiving me, but the Lord–and probably a number of other people–saw clearly the thread running from the actions back to the misdirection of my own heart.

So there’s hope. Even for this deceitful heart: ‘Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed.’

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