The lyrics are simple and easy to remember. Maybe that's why my childhood pastor loved to have the congregation sing the song "Change My Heart, Oh God" at the end of practically every Sunday service. At the time I must admit I was sick of singing the refrain. After every sermon I would internally roll my eyes, "Here it comes…again!" I would think. Sure enough, the piano would play those familiar opening chords before the congregation joined in with the words, "Change my heart, Oh God. Make it ever true. Change my heart, Oh God. May I be like you…. You are the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me, this is what I pray…"
The melody is flowing and smooth, with the rhythm of a lullaby. The tune lends itself perfectly to a prayer but in my younger years I didn't appreciate the beauty of the song. I merely focused on how often I heard it and what I perceived as a lack of original thought. Why wouldn't our pastor choose a different salvation message chorus to conclude the service every now and again? "Change My Heart, Oh God" is a nice song but there are many wonderfully composed choruses and hymns that we could sing on occasion. Mix things up a bit; keep the congregation on its toes. That was my thinking.
My mind was so fixated on the routine of the song that I missed the profound message found in the lyrics I was singing. Now, when I read those simple words, I am stunned by their substantial meaning.
"Change my heart"…Had I realized what I was singing all those years? The words were never, "change my circumstances," "change that person's attitude," "change the trials" or "change the world." No, the words cried out for a change in ME. Dramatically alter, reconfigure, redesign, transform who I am, Lord.
I sat in the midst of a congregation of Christian believers for my whole childhood and teenage years singing that song almost every Sunday and yet I never stopped to think about the gravity of the words I sang. The words that passed through my lips asked God to turn me upside down, inside out. I wasn't asking for anything around me to change, only me.
The prayers I have prayed on my own, far removed from the chords of "Change My Heart, Oh God" haven't always reflected that same desire. I have often prayed for the changed behavior of those around me. I have prayed that I would be delivered from my difficulty and pain. I've prayed for blessings and asked God to do X, Y, and Z in my life and in that order. But how often have I prayed solely for my own heart to be changed? How often have I simply asked God to change who I am so that I look more like Him?
Maybe my pastor knew something I didn't understand. All those years he choose to sing that simple chorus over and over, could it be that he knew all those who sang the words weren't really getting the message just yet? We needed to hear it repeated a hundred times and maybe that wouldn't even be enough. The message he was trying to impart to us, the truth he was trying to reveal, was that God doesn't want us to be concerned with our circumstances. God wants us to be concerned about the condition of our hearts. He wants us to be begging for our souls to be transformed by the work of God.
My life might look exactly the same tomorrow as it does today. That's okay by me. What won't be okay is if tomorrow my heart looks the same as it does today. Every day I want to be further molded and sculpted to the image of Christ. I don't want my heart to go a day unchanged. I want the work of the potter to be active in my life each and every day.
The heart is where God can do His most masterful work on you and I, His cherished works of art. He can change our perspective on our circumstances by changing the condition of our heart. Our entire lives can be transformed when we earnestly seek to have our hearts invaded by Jesus Christ, submitting to the molding and shaping He has in store for His beloved creation.
I want to sing with sincerity the words that were once nothing more than a Sunday routine. I want to lay myself down at the feet of the cross, desiring for nothing but a changed heart. Let my circumstances remain but not my heart. God, I want a changed heart, made ever true. Please, change my heart, Oh God, so that I may be like you.