Originally posted in December of 2011.
I was reading The Book Thief the other night and the following words struck me:
"Somewhere, far down, there was an itch in his heart, but he made it a point not to scratch it. He was afraid of what might come leaking out."
To put this in context for those of you that have never read the book, "he" is referring to a man living outside Munich in Nazi Germany. "He" does not agree with Hitler. He is a member of the Nazi party because he must provide for his family. But…"somewhere far down, there was an itch in his heart…"
I just finished reading/teaching the play version of "The Diary of Anne Frank" with my 8th grade class, so part of the reason this struck me is because I had to stop and think, "What if everyone, in particular males who were members of the Nazi party, who had an "itch" in their hearts during this time WOULD have been willing to "scratch it"? What atrocities may have been stopped?"
But then my mind kept on moving…
What if WE, in particular men and women who are members of the Kingdom of God, would scratch our hearts where they itch? What if we would scratch that place that tells us it isn't okay to be buying ANOTHER present for a family member when there are kids not only in other countries but in our own communities who need shoes, clothes, and shelter? What if we would scratch that place in our hearts that tells us to give up our vacation time to go serve in Ethiopia, or Poland, or China? What if we would scratch that place that tells us the job we've had for 10plus years, though comfortable to us, may not be where we are supposed to remain if we truly want to use our gifts? What if we would scratch that place that tells us to move from everything we know to follow His call, even if we don't know exactly what all that entails right now?
And maybe the itch isn't even that big. But what if we would scratch that place that tells us to stop and ask that older woman if she would like help carrying her groceries? What if we would scratch that place that tells us to let a dad with two restless kids in his cart ahead of us in line? What if we would scratch that place that tells us to offer a hug, especially when hugs are uncomfortable for us? What if we would scratch that place that tells us to pay for the other person's gas while filling up at the pump?
What if we would be willing to scratch the itch in our hearts, whatever it may be?
I think, just like the fictional character in the book, we don't scratch because we are afraid of what will come leaking out. We are afraid of what it may REQUIRE of us. We are afraid of being made uncomfortable or being looked at strangely. We are afraid of sacrificing time and money. We are afraid of sacrificing our selfishness.
We are afraid.
I think, especially this Christmas, we need to be more aware of the itches in our hearts.
I think we need to be less afraid of what will come leaking out of them.
I think we'll be surprised when we do.