By Matt Allen
Craig Courtney composed a beautiful choral anthem based on Jeremiah 29:11-13 (“If You Search With All Your Hearts”). It was a “sugar stick” for my high school youth choir and served as the theme for the choir during my senior year. More than that, it eventually became my theme. A few years earlier, another Courtney piece—“Be Not Afraid”—provided a balm as I struggled to deal with the heartache of my father’s death. But it was “With All Your Hearts” that swept in as a paraclete, infusing me with hope and inspiration.
In the years before his death, my father battled two forms of cancer. Though he received the most advanced medical treatment available, I lived every day with the reality that he would die before I graduated high school. This reality invoked a type of paralysis: While others talked of colleges and careers, I focused totally on the present and diligently avoided talk of the future, for that future would be one without my dad.
It was not until my senior year—as I sang “With All Your Hearts” again and again—that the paralysis began to lift, that the clouds covering up my future began to clear. How? By internalizing the truth of Jeremiah 29:11-13: “When you open your heart completely–when you let your heart be broken by the things that break My heart (the outcast, the stranger, the lonely)—then a walking path will open before you, a path with many resting places to hear My encouragement and marvel in My creation” (my translation).
Heavenly father, thank you for sending us a glimpse of your heart in a lonely manger long ago. Help us live every day knowing the future is as boundless as our ability to seek your heart with all our hearts. Amen.