I just found this rock on the road while I was taking my walk. It is rough and hard, but very much shaped like a heart. It doesn’t show up well in the picture, but it is even a dark shade of red. Sometimes it feels like I have one just like it rattling around in my chest. A heart of stone.
I have been reading the second half of John 14 but I keep stumbling over part of it.
“15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
If you love me you will obey my teachings.
Obedience, do what he says AND don’t do what he says not to do.
I was thinking about this and how I fail and being hyper self critical when my dogs crawled up on the couch with me. We have 2 dogs one smart one and one cute one- (I hope I can bring this all together, stone heart, obedience from love, dogs), and I realized something. My dogs love me and I love them but they are not always obedient. They don’t do what I tell them every time. Sometimes I will even change my command so that what they are doing matches what I’m saying. (The analogy sags a bit here). My heart feels stiff because my will is not always His will. Sometimes my will is counter his will. He still loves me. Jesus died for me and forgave before I committed any sins because he knew I would need to be bathed in forgiveness from birth.
I constantly need to have my heart softened towards God and towards the people around me. I have received grace, I need to dispense grace.
The prophet Ezekiel wrote this about our hearts, this the Lord speaking;
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.
Ezekiel 36:25-27 – NLT
In my early 20s I worked for my parents in their cafe. We had a number of regulars who came in every day. They became like an extended family. George and Ruth were a couple who came in a lot. Ruth got sick and died. My mom, who had a huge heart of flesh, opened the cafe to the funeral party and I begrudgingly worked serving George and the extended family. I was miffed that we were giving away the food and I was having to work and then something happened. I don’t remember why I did it, it could be that George was crying, I don’t know, but I reached out and put my hand on his shoulder, when I did that, I felt his humanity, he was just a man, like me, and he lost his best friend, his love, the mother of his children, and he was hurting. I understood his pain. My attitude changed immediately. The mere pittance of my service changed to willingly giving whatever George and his family needed to comfort them and to help remember Ruth.
When I have a tendency to be hard towards others, I need to often remember that people are just people like me. May God continue to give me a tender heart of flesh towards others who are suffering, lonely, hurting, or afraid.
Change my heart o’ God make it ever true, may I be like You.