His name was Secretariat. He was an incredible horse. He prevailed in many races, including the coveted Triple Crown. He won the1973 Belmont Stakes by an unprecedented 31 lengths, setting an unbeatable record in the process (see photo).
When I lived in Nashville, Tennessee back in the 90's, I once worked at a horse ranch called Far Side Farms, a ranch that raised and trained Thoroughbreds for steeplechase racing. When I was hired, the farm owners taught me many things relative the care and preparation of horses before, during, and after a race. One of the things they shared is that normal Thoroughbreds typically slow down after running a quarter-mile. Secretariat, however, was not your normal Thoroughbred. Secretariat actually ran faster with each succeeding fraction after the first quarter-mile.
Trainers were bewildered. How could a horse run so fast? The answer came only after the death of Secretariat. When he was autopsied, Secretariat’s heart was found to be larger than the average horse’s. Not just slightly larger, but massively larger. The average Thoroughbred’s heart weighs 8.5 pounds. Secretariat’s weighed 22.
In 1999, Secretariat was honored as the 35th greatest athlete of the Twentieth Century by ESPN’s SportsCentury, a program profiling the top athletes of the last century. Secretariat was the only animal to make the list. What made him so special? His heart.
As a follower of Christ, so much of our obedience is directly tied to the attitude of our hearts. Jesus commanded us to love Him with all of our hearts. (Matthew 22:37). Everything that our heart ponders upon must honor God. (Psalm 19:14) Our hearts are always in the same location as our treasures, (Matthew 6:21) and it is from our hearts that we speak every single word we say. (Matthew 12:34).
No wonder then, when Paul told us that as disciples of Christ, he dwells within our hearts (Ephesians 3:17) that we ought also to guard our hearts as well. (Philippians 4:7). Your heart drives your love for God and your work for Him. So, where is your heart? What does your heart ponder? What kinds of words does your heart send to your mouth to speak? Perhaps this simple prayer can help:
O Lord Jesus, so fill me with the knowledge of Thee that my small heart becomes Thy big heart, so that when my life’s history is written, whoever reads it will not think of me as a self-made man, but as the handiwork of God, in whom His grace and love are magnified.[i]
[i] Credit to Dr. David Alan Black, Dr. M.O. Owens, Jr. Chair of New Testament Studies and professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for portions of this blog entry.