A few years ago, I was sitting across from a friend at a coffee shop. As we were talking, I pictured her heart with a small layer of concrete wrapped around it. God was holding a chisel and gently taping away as it was cracking and breaking off. After we discussed what I saw, I too had a desire to reflect on my own heart and what it looked like. The truth is, I am sure we all have a little concrete on there somewhere. Some of us might have so much that it feels heavy and unopened and some of us might have a little that comes and goes as we allow the Holy Spirit to work on and help us keep opened.
“So, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness” Hebrews 3:7-8.
In a world where voices are loud and very opinionated. Where offenses are made and accusations are pointed in all different directions, it seems easier to allow a layer of concrete to surround our beating heart to protect it from further hurts. But our hearts are not only hardened from other people’s actions and words, but from God himself. I’ve heard many people say that they need to have some words with God, or that when they get to Heaven, He will have some explaining to do. Some were waiting on a miracle that was not received. Some who believed for a breakthrough that had a different outcome, and sometimes it is the reality of life that is difficult and ruthless at times which we reflect on being God’s fault and our faith is weakened. When our heart is hardened, no matter the cause, it makes it exceedingly difficult to be open and vulnerable to the Holy Spirit and His guidance.
When our heart is open and not protected by our own means, it is in a posture to receive others with genuine love and forgiveness. It is a heart that is willing to get close in relationship and to reflect God’s love for His people. It also allows close relationship to The Father and excites us to desire His Kingdom purpose. It is forgiving, kind and gentle and allows the fruit of His Spirit to blossom through us.
One of my absolute favorite bible stories is about a man who had every reason to have a hardened heart but chose to keep his heart opened and pure before the Lord. His name was Joseph. Joseph was favored and had dreams from the Lord, one in which he described to his brothers. They were jealous of him and let it get the best of them. They threw, their brother in a pit, then he was sold into slavery, and later was put into prison (even though he was completely innocent) and lived several years without seeing his family. Through ever trial that he had to go through, Joseph loved the Lord and remembered who He was and what God called him to be. He allowed all the bad that had entered his life come in and go out just as quickly not to allow his heart to grow hardened. He did not sit in self-pity, bitterness, and anger. He did not desire revenge and animosity towards his brothers. Through it ALL, he kept His heart opened.
This story does end on the most happy note, as Joseph is placed second to the King, just as His dream had showed him and forgave and reconciled with the same brothers that threw him into a pit and slavery.
He kept his heart opened and forgiveness was easy for Him, because He allowed God to be his portion in the unfairness and trials. He trusted God with His whole heart and for that, there was a great blessing. Let us not miss out on the blessing of God and His direction for our life because of a hardened heart. This week, I will examine my own heart and ask God to help remove any lingering concrete that has taken form over my heart. Let us be inspired by Joseph and be reminded to keep an open heart in all seasons of life.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrew 3:13