Come Down, Lord #5 – Softened Hearts
In a recent conversation with other pastors in Queens, we talked about our similar experiences of people who have dropped out of church during this pandemic. We shared similar feelings of sadness over this loss.
The prophet Isaiah also grieved over God’s people. “Why, LORD, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance” (Isaiah 63:17).
Of course, God doesn’t force us to wander from him or harden our hearts. This is best described as the difference between the sun shining on the clay and the sun shining on the wax.
When the sun shines on clay, the clay gets hard. When the sun shines on wax, it melts.
So it is with our hearts. Are our hearts more like clay or like wax?
When our hearts “wander” from God’s ways, we get casual about our spiritual lives and careless about sin in our lives. We grow increasingly unconcerned and indifferent about God’s ways.
Someone said, “There’s too much apathy in this country, but who cares?” That’s precisely the problem. We don’t care.
When our hearts “do not revere” God, we no longer fear God. Yet “the fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death” (Proverbs 14:27).
A little fear of God goes a long way. Without a godly reverence for God, we insulate ourselves from the Holy Spirit’s conviction about God’s holiness and our sins.
Sadly, the Israelites responded to God’s discipline only after their temple and city were reduced to rubble and they were captive in Babylon. If they had only returned to God sooner, they could have saved themselves a lot of grief. Likewise our lives.
Just like a person who is floating on the water at a beach can find themselves drifting away from the shore, our spiritual life can drift incrementally away from God. Our hearts grow more indifferent and careless, and we don’t notice it.
Our spiritual fervency has cooled. Our compassion has fatigued. Our service is weak. We are no longer the vibrant Christ follower we once were.
When you suddenly realize that you’ve drifted, acknowledge it. Take aggressive steps in returning to God. Ask God to soften your heart. You can return to the place you once were. The Lord will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:7).
Action Step: Do an inventory of where you were spiritually one year ago and where you are today.
~ Pastor Dave