The Orphan Heart
“I’ve been around, you know? There was a time I could see. And I have seen, boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there is nothin’ like the sight of an amputated spirit, there is no prosthetic for that.” -Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman.
What on earth does that movie quote have to do with this letter? It has everything to do with this letter! In fact it has everything to do with everything including self-destructing starlets, young men who kill and a vast unnamed generation that has bitterly failed to find self worth.
Something unseen is feeding on the American spirit. Colleges scramble to deal with a surge of “mental illness.” People go to anger management and come out enraged. Miracle diets have made their victims fatter. People go into rehab addicted to drugs and come out addicted to rehab. It is no longer the heinous acts of criminals that stun police as much as the wholesale acceptance of these acts by society. Entire neighborhoods have conceded their children’s future to crack houses, gangs and pimps. Why do we feel so helpless to find final solutions to crime, immigration, and the Iraq war? Why have so many of the psychotherapy remedies failed. More importantly why do we deny it? Millions of Americans have an amputated spirit that’s why; and as the Colonel rightly observed there are no artificial limbs for the human spirit.
There is great anxiety in the Church of Oprah. After all of the books that have told us to “feel better and get over it” nothing stuck. We remain a nation of victims. In a desperation move a new book called The Secret touts laws of attraction. Instead of facing reality this book asks the reader to delve even further into self absorption! The Secret will find its place beside other false cures of the human potential movement. The billion dollar celebrity therapy circuit is feeling the backlash of anger and disappointment of an entgeneration.
You simply cannot layer happy thoughts and affirmation onto an amputated spirit. The groovy feelings will not last. Without the power to heal the human spirit no guru, medium or life coach can remove the pain. You will never feel better about yourself unless you can heal your spirit, and that is like asking the human body to regrow a limb.
This letter means to show you that the American spirit was amputated by THE ORPHAN HEART. The orphan heart is not my concept. It is in the Bible. It is also verified by the experiences of millions. It is this heart of an orphan that plunges people into despair and evil.
What is the orphan heart? It is an inner emptiness. It is a profound sense of loneliness.
It is a vague suspicion that no one wants me and that I am a tolerated guest on earth. The orphan hearted feel like they are on the bottom even when they are on top. They feel like a failure even after a great achievement. No matter how lofty their success they cannot savor it. Even when they have finally made it nothing removes their insecurity. They have hidden software running in their spirit that keeps them desperate for the approval of some vague someone. They can never please this phantom but they cannot stop trying. They cannot work with creative or equally talented people without feeling threatened. They jump from one project to another and from one circle of friends to another. They do not believe the compliments that people give them. They are so sure that good things will not last that they will often sabotage good relationships and good careers. They feel that their good life is secretly a trap and they feel the need to set off the trap themselves.
So where does the Orphan Heart come from? This quote from M. Scott Peck gives us a clue: “If a child does not acquire self confidence from their parents it is unlikely that they will ever possess self confidence as adults. Conversely, if a child does gain it in childhood it is unlikely that anything in adulthood will discourage them.” When children are deprived of a their father’s approval they live in an unspoken grief.
Think about it. How could we have expected anything but an orphan heart? Our society has bashed fatherhood from all directions. Good fathers have been oppressed in the family court system while the player and the pimp are exalted in the movies. Lesbian couples want babies without fathers. Few if any even understand fatherhood and even less know how to mentor it. The blind pursuit of wealth by mothers and fathers has orphaned an entire generation. Studies have proved again and again that the father is essential to building self esteem in their children. This nutrient has been removed. The recent meltdown of Alec Baldwin only highlights the crisis of fatherhood in our nation.
The last verse of the Old Testament is a strange prediction of the orphan heart and its cure. Malachi 4:5,6 says “Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the coming ofthe great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and strike the earthwith a curse.” Indeed the curse of an orphaned heart is on our land!
My next jolt came while working with gang members. 7,000 youth mostly gang members sat in rapt silence during an outreach play depicting a home in the ghetto. The father walked into the set and the whole crowd began booing! This character had done nothing but walk in the door. This affected me so deeply that in my next outreach I targeted those who felt fatherless. The results stunned me. Like nitro and glycerin the mixture of Holy Spirit power and the vast hunger for a father exploded and en masse they came to Christ.
I still had no idea what I was onto. Soon it was clear that this is not just a ghetto condition but in fact the single greatest emotional and mental health issue in America!
I cannot write the next part of this letter without exploding. Here we are in the most devastating moment in American history where we are threatened from without and beingeaten alive from within. Never and I mean never has the Gospel looked so right! Nothing works like the Gospel on the Orphan Heart! Every other prescription fails bitterly. The message of Jesus is the quintessential solution to this emotional AIDS virus.
Now comes the part that makes me want to explode. We have a golden opportunity and what have we done with it? When preachers should have stepped up to thunder the answer to the Orphan Heart they instead echoed the failed and bankrupt motivational speeches of the house of self help. We are literally watering down the cure in order to keep pace with a dying movement! Beyond this there is another crisis. While many are indeed born again they have not yet been healed of this orphan heart!
What do you do if you have an orphan heart? You need the Spirit of Adoption! You need a miracle where God completes your nature and you are free at last of all sense of insecurity and isolation. To be free of an orphan heart learn these truths.
1. Transfer your fatherhood from your human parent to God and let Him provide the missing nutrients in your past and present. Understand that the approval of God your Father will supersede the effects of a devastated childhood. Hebrews 12:9 says it so clearly, “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!”
I wrote Scott Peck a letter to respond to his view regarding self confidence. Though hewas right about parents giving their children self confidence he limited God by sayingthat unless you got the confidence as a child it is unlikely you can get it as an adult.It told him that if a human being can give their child confidence then imagine what Godcan give his children even as adults!
Even Jesus would not begin His earthly ministry without the infusion of His Father’sBlessing! When he was baptized by John the heavens opened and a voice said,“This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!”
2. Important people do important things. If ever a Bible character embodied modern inadequacy it was Joshua. If ever a man lived that needed a formula for success it was Joshua. Moses was the hardest act to follow in history! Joshua was a slave and the son of a slave. He had an orphan heart!
It is a great misnomer to assume that if we accomplish important things we will feel important. But as I have said before even after success orphans feel worthless. People do not feel important because they do important things; they do important things because they feel important.
Before Joshua could launch out God had to give him this inner sense of security and worth and that is why He said in Joshua 1:5 “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
3. Let the Holy Spirit flood your heart with the Spirit of adoption. The death of Jesus on the Cross paid for the curse that made us orphans. There awaits you an experience where God saturates your heart with an unshakable sense that you are his beloved child. By surrendering to Him you go way beyond the limits of self esteem to a seal of approval from your heavenly father. No one else’s approval will ever matter. No one will ever beable to make you feel inferior.
When Paul answered the call to build a church out of rank pagans in the Roman Empirehe knew the brokenness and perversion that they would exit. He knew the baggage theywould bring into the Kingdom. Paul understood that the work of the Holy Spirit wouldmake royal sons and daughters out of the wrecked and ruined raw material out of thewicked and wretched cities of Corinth and Rome. Yet God used Paul to build giants of God in these cities.
The key was the spirit of adoption! Romans 8: 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God!”