One of my favorite songs is Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.” His plain harmonica still cuts through a contemporary ocean of music that espouses materialism and seduction. Amidst the fleeting fancies of popular culture, there are things worth pursuing, things worth striving after. A heart of gold, I think, is one of them.
Of course, what is a heart of gold, and how do you get one? Let me take both questions in turn.
A heart of gold is a heart weighted with concern for others, a heart invaluable because what it values is something eternal, something in God’s own heart: love for another, for God is love (1 John 4:8), an infinite love of three divine persons in one essence. That’s my answer to the first question.
My wife and I have always been amazed with our children. Each of them has something truly unique, something that draws us to marvel and smile. My three-year-old daughter, Nora, just so happens to have a heart of gold. I’ll share two little examples with you. As we passed by a shop on the main street of our town, Nora looked up and saw a beautiful dress on a manikin. She turned and looked at us wide-eyed and started to say what we thought every little girl would say, “Mommy I want to get that dress . . . for you!” My wife and I looked at each other, both thinking the same thing: What three-year-old says that? She marched right along without giving us a second thought.
A few days later, we were going on a family walk, and her brother, in an attempt to say how cute he thought our four-month-old was, said, “She’s even cuter than Nora.” He didn’t mean any harm by it, but as we began explaining why that isn’t such a nice thing to say, Nora interrupted us. “It’s okay, mommy. Cause guess what? I want Heidi to be cuter than me because I love her!” I looked over at my wife and asked with sincerity, “How does Nora have a heart of gold?”
That segues into the next question, how do you get a heart of gold? Well, I’m sorry if this is disappointing to you, but a heart of gold isn’t grasped; it’s granted, and only by God himself. God, you see, as the hearth of personal communion and love, is the giver of gold hearts, the giver of hearts that resemble his own. If and when you get a heart of gold, I can guarantee you this: it won’t be because you did anything to get it. It will be a result of God doing things inside of you to make you more others-focused, to make you more like himself.
So, if you want a heart of gold, start praying. You can even use Neil Young’s lyrics (I’m sure he wouldn’t mind): “Heavenly Father, keep me searchin’ for a heart of gold.” And he will. But in the end, he’ll be the one who gives it to you. May we all continue to seek a heart of gold from the giver of gold hearts.
Like what you read? You might enjoy my most recent book, Finding God in the Ordinary. It’s about how we can find God in the everyday moments that we often try to rush past. Here’s a FREE sample chapter.