Much is said about the heart. It is the symbol for ❤️ love. It has been used famously by New York advertising. The physical muscle is essential for life as it pumps blood. If it does work right, you’re in trouble.
It’s also about feeling. To refer to an unfeeling or angry, hard to get along with person, we might say “She has a heart of stone.” Or “He is hard hearted.”
In the Old Testament, God tells the prophet Ezekiel that he will give his people hearts of flesh instead of hearts of stone. This is the work of God’s Spirit inside a person.
One might ask, how?
I attended a workshop on the New Testament book of Hebrews today. In one session we discussed a section that warns people not to remain immature. Not to be satisfied to just drink milk. But to eat solid food.
I like solid food! We had steak to celebrate my wife’s birthday. We rarely eat steak. Mine was really good. I chewed it slowly and savored the taste. I didn’t rush as I often do.
The Spirit changes us, according to Ezekiel, from the inside out. But we have a role in this change. Our role is to abide in Jesus.
Abiding in Christ takes many forms, using various spiritual disciplines. Prayer is essential, as is Scripture engagement. Abiding through prayer and engaging in the Bible are key to being changed from the inside out.
Meditating on the word, slowly, is a key way the Spirit works the word into my heart to change it. I usually need a lot of changing. This requires time. Time to soak and rub off some of my crustiness, like dried up paint brushes.
I enjoy painting. This past summer I learned that if I mix a certain kind of yellow, a certain kind of purple and white together I get various shades of a sandy tone. (I love painting beach scenes.)
I start out dark for wet sand near the water’s edge, and gradually move to lighter colored sand, where it is drier. If the mixture is too dark, I add white. The more white paint I add to the palette, the lighter it becomes. If it gets too light, I add just a little touch of purple and mix thoroughly. It takes practice to get the color to change into the hue I am looking for. Add and mix. Add and mix.
My heart is the same.
I find that the more Bible I read, the better prepared my heart is to meditate slowly on Scripture and pray. I have often observed that soaking in the Bible, reading it deeply is the answer to my hard hearted ness.
When I fail to wash my brushes and palette, they dry up and are hard. They cease to be useful.
To soften my brushes and clean my palette that have dried up, and are hard and difficult to work with, I soak them in water with some soap. This cleans and softens them so they are useful.
Scripture and prayer are the water and soap that soften my heart. Then God can use my heart to love others.
There’s a lot of anger these days. People are really mad at each other. People are enraged at people they don’t even know. People who think of themselves as disciples of Jesus wish ill upon people they don’t even know. It blows the mind.
When I feel this way, I know that I need to soak my hard heart in prayer and God’s word. And, like my brushes that I’ve allowed to get caked and hardened, I often need to soak extra long.
If your heart is hard, and you can’t figure out why…
If you can’t get over some slight that you have received…
If you wish ill upon some whole class of people who are different than yourself…
The doctor’s prescription is to soak longer in the word of God and talking to the God of the word.
Don’t stop soaking just cuz ur 20 minutes are up. Keep soaking until the crust softens. Chew some solid food slowly. (I use copying Scripture paragraphs slowly to do this) Whoever is waiting will be the beneficiary of your softer heart. Trust me in this.
You’ll know that it’s working when you realize your wrongs, that’s when we are being humbled.
That’s the rubbing. So don’t stop.
Pretty soon, you’re heart will be soft, peace will be deeper and you’ll be more loving. Even to people you just can’t understand.
Then, with that newly softened heart, you’ll be more useful to The Artist.