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Friday, 26 September 2014

Ephesians 4:17-19

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
Yesterday, I ran at dawn, just as the sun spilled over the horizon and the leaves began to shine. With face speckled by snatches of dawn light, I prayed that God would keep my heart soft. Don't let my heart grow hard. Keep it soft and keep it malleable. Don't let my heart grow cold. Keep it burning by the bonfire of your love. There is caution in Paul's word. Hardness of heart is not reserved for unbelievers. We need to be alert. We have responsibility for conquering futile thoughts and shaking off the attitudes that would seek to enslave us. Dorothy Day says that the soft heart is one that is easily bruised, the heart which is wounded by another's pain, the heart which will not take offence. I will place my heart on the potter's wheel; Father, take your hands and mould me. Do what you will. Make what you wish. But take your hands and mould me. Today we need to lay our calloused, disappointed, burned out hearts before him and let his strong hands knead out our knotted-ness.
What does hardness look like? For many years, I have wrestled with God over Romans 9. How could God choose to harden hearts? I do not know. But I do know that for almost every mention of God hardening Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 7.3, 9.12, 10.20, 11.10),we are told that Pharaoh had his own hand in becoming stonehearted (Exodus 8.14, 8.32, 9.34). Romans tells us that God is obvious, available, undeniably printed in all of creation. (Romans 1:19-20) There is a calculated deliberateness in choosing to ignore him just as there is calculation in my shutting out of his still, small voice when I don't want to be obedient. God gives us over to dark empty thinking when we forget him, refuse him, don't pay attention, don't acknowledge his goodness, don't say thank you. But there is pain on his part too. A refrain repeatedly echoed down generations: return return return. Do not die. Do not separate yourself from your very life. Do not ignore the beauty of the dawn intended to show you me. Learn to love the gentle spirit-stirring of my presence and look not for an idol, build not a broken cistern. (Jeremiah 2:13)

Father, keep my spirit sensitive to you today so I don't get lost.

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