Friday, April 20, 2012

A Heart of Stone or A Heart of Flesh

It frightened me, as the cutting words so thoughtlessly slipped off my tongue yet again. How could I be so un-caring? How could I be so cold and hard hearted? I thought of the many other things I had done to wound and hurt those I loved so dearly; I thought of how I'd slowly lost interest in reaching out to others in love and service and how cold my heart had really become and it cut to my soul. "Why Lord, why?" I cried. This is not what I wanted at all! I was shocked at how far I'd come and how easy it had become for me...

I knew my words and actions were hurting people and yet, I felt my heart getting harder and colder and more uncaring of others feelings. I didn't want that; I didn't want my heart to become as hard as stone but I didn't know what to do. I felt helpless.

I know when it first started - when I chose not to care about something I needed to care about. I didn't want my heart to hurt and I thought that it wouldn't hurt if I didn't care so I refused to care. I refused to allow myself to cry and I refused to even entertain the thought that I could possibly care. At that moment, something happened in my heart and I knew it. I should have gotten on my knees and asked forgiveness. I should have prayed for the tenderness of my heart to be restored, and for strength to endure but I didn't. That was one of the worst choices I ever made.

As time passed, I know God was working in my heart and no, I wasn't perfect but then things began to happen in rapid succession. I had allowed little things to affect me, and allowed little bits of bitterness to rise up in my heart against wrongs. It began to come out of me in hurtful words and actions at the slightest indication of hurt or a crossing of my will. It was like a wall I was trying to put up to protect my heart and to protect my independence but hurting others as well as myself in the process. It was a wall of uncaring, of hardness and coldness that seemed to strengthen in each passing day. I was shocked at the words coming out of my mouth; I was shocked at my heartlessness and I was shocked at how cold and stony my heart had become and was becoming. It frightened me. I didn't want this! I wanted to be kind and caring. I wanted my heart to be soft and tender. I wanted to serve and bring joy and love to others but what I wanted was not what I was living out in my life. "Why Lord, Why?" I cried. I had tried so hard to change - to be what I wanted to be but I couldn't on my own. My heart was heavy... I shared what I could of the longings of my heart with the Lord.

One morning I read this quote in my morning devotions:
 "The soil of the heart, like that of a garden, will produce weeds and brambles unless the seeds of precious flowers are planted there and receive care and cultivation."  ~ Ellen White.
I had to ponder that one for awhile. I thought of the different steps to planting, and one of the first is to break up or till the soil and uproot the weeds. Jeremiah 4:3 says: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not  among thorns.” I wondered what it really meant to break up the fallow ground in my heart and how that was to be accomplished. I read Hosea 10:12 "..break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD.." and another quote by Ellen White: "The garden of the heart must be cultivated. The soil must be broken up by deep repentance for sin." I had the answer. Truly seeking the Lord with my whole heart, and repentance for my sins was how I was to break up the soil of my heart. Uprooting the weeds of my heart go hand in hand with repentance for true repentance is really a surrendering, or giving up of sins. I read a few promises and especially the following and marveled at the power and goodness of God.  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 God promises to take my stony heart if I'm willing to give it up and give me a soft heart - a heart of flesh! That is an amazing promise for an amazing work.

Once the soil of my heart is prepared, what are the seeds of 'precious flowers' to be planted? Put simply - Christ-likeness. Just as I would water and fertilize the seeds in a real garden, I must water and fertilize the seeds/plants of Christ-likeness in my character with the water and bread of life. I can do that by communion with God through prayer and His word and by beholding Christ, for by beholding we become changed.

As the garden needs cultivation and care, the garden of my heart needs cultivation as well. It needs watching lest a little weed of sin be permitted to grow and spread and take over the whole heart. I must watch for the little compromise to conviction and principle, the little unkind word in joking and jesting, the little grudge, the little seed of bitterness, the seed of selfishness etc. lest these 'little' seeds grow and take over and choke the good seeds of Christ-likeness, for it's not always or only the big dramatic compromises, actions, or sins that ruin. It is not always or only the big dramatic trials, heartaches in life that change the heart and that can make it cold and stony, but also the very little ones and the constant dwelling on them which makes them appear like huge mountains when in reality they are but a golf ball  in comparison to Mt. Everest.

The trials and the heartaches of life don't have to make our hearts hard, cold and stony but can make us more tender, and more understanding of others if we allow our Saviour to work in us. He will give comfort, healing and grace. He will be our courage when we are fearful. He will be our strength when we are weak. He will be our all in all to us - our complete.

“The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me...” Psalms 138:8

What a wonderful God and Saviour we serve!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing those thoughts. That could have easily been written by me. I developed a hard heart as well, but praise the Lord, He has helped me to overcome that! What a blessing to have Christ's love within.


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