I’m a member of the zipper club.

Oh relax… it’s not what you think (although there have been a few embarrassing moments here and there). To be a member of the zipper club you must have had, at least once in your life, open-heart surgery. The club is so named because the resulting scar looks like a big zipper running right up the middle of your chest. Not necessarily a club I would recommend or that you should be in a big hurry to join.

Anyone who’s been through open heart usually comes out of the operating room different from when they went in.

However, anyone who’s been through open heart usually comes out of the operating room different from when they went in (aside from having a big zipper scar). One of my big moments actually came a few days before the surgery when the medical team was talking me through the whole procedure.

At one point, the surgeon sort of ran over a phrase that was something like “…. and once we get the heart stopped…”, and continued on. After a few minutes, I said “You know – can we go back to the whole stopping the heart thing? I got a little hung up on that.” “Oh yes,” he said sort of matter-of-factly, “The procedure can’t be done until the heart has completely stopped beating.” That’s when I said “Wow! Can I do this once a month?!” He didn’t laugh. Not a big bunch of kidders, these heart surgeons.

I asked the obvious question, “So is it hard to get the heart started again?” “Not at all.” he said. “Stopping it is the hard part. Starting it again is easy.” ”Why is that?” I asked. He replied, as he was casually writing something on his chart, “Because the heart wants to beat.”

“Stopping it is the hard part. Starting it again is easy.”  “Why is that?” I asked. He replied, as he was casually writing something on his chart, “Because the heart wants to beat.”

I was stunned for a second. “The heart WANTS to beat?” “Sure” he said, “It’s created to beat.” From that moment on, I knew I was going to be fine.

You don’t have to be a member of the zipper club to begin to appreciate the marvel and mystery of a beating heart. Think about it. It’s not plugged in to anything, there’s no battery, no photosynthesis cell or alternative fuel. There’s absolutely nothing on earth giving it even a hint of power. It just beats.

When we consider the profound blessing of life itself, the ability to think, to feel, to choose, to create, to love, we are driven in humility to respond to the world around us.

So where does this power come from? Certainly, scientists, faith communities and philosophers would all provide their own answers. Perhaps the more important question for us is not where the power comes from, but where it ends up.
When we consider the profound blessing of life itself, the ability to think, to feel, to choose, to create, to love, we are driven in humility to respond to the world around us. To connect, engage, share, love, and serve. To live and respond like a person who has been given the precious gift of a heart that wants to beat.

So go and live as a grateful person, one heartbeat at a time. And if you’re ever in any kind of zipper club, I hope it’s only the embarrassing kind.

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John Mays
John Mays, VP of A&R for Centricity, is one of Christian music’s most respected executives, having worked in A&R at Word, Sparrow, and Star Song Records before serving as president of Benson Records. Over his 35-year career, Mays discovered and signed Point Of Grace, Scott Krippayne, Cindy Morgan, Matt Redman, Nichole Nordeman, Warren Barfield, and the Passion worship recordings. Mays helped found Centricity Music in 2005 where his A&R efforts have contributed to the signing and development of Downhere, Jason Gray, Aaron Shust, Carrollton, Unspoken, Jordan Feliz and Lauren Daigle. He began his career in music at 17 as a musician, eventually landing jobs as a bass player with several bands and many Christian music recordings during the ’80s. Along the way, he co-wrote “Love In Any Language,” a career song for Sandi Patty included in CCM’s list of 100 greatest Christian songs. The Andrews, TX, native has been married to Dianne for 40 years and continues to brag on his two kids, Kelsey and John Austin, a teacher and vet student respectively, and, the exciting addition of Avery - the only Grand-baby ever to be born. When asked about his life philosophy, John says, “There aren’t too many problems that can’t be helped by a Mac computer, some Mexican food, or a trip to Texas.”

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