How cold is it?
It's so cold...
We don't clean the house—we defrost it!
It's so cold...
We wear layers of clothing so if we fall and can't get up, we can stay there until somebody finds us and rolls us home!
Just a few days ago, we experienced blizzard conditions. A flurry of white. Now we are in a deep freeze. With below zero temperatures that drive you inside.
But we Minnesotan's try to make the best of these cold temperatures. We like to experiment by blowing bubbles outdoors or throwing a cup of boiling water off our decks and watching them instantaneously freeze. If you haven't tried this, you must! It's super cool.
We are hardy types. We build ice castles, make snow sculptures, throw a winter carnival, cross country ski, snowboard, skate, and even snowshoe. If you can't beat the weather, you simply must join it.
The sad reality is that some of us have experienced a deep freeze of the heart.
It easily happens. If you have had hurtful experiences in the past, it's natural to build a wall around our hearts to keep the pain out. Some of us feel extremely disappointed by God when life takes a tragic turn and he remains silent. Others of us cannot reconcile ourselves to the hungry bellies of so many around the world, so we shut God out, thinking him unfeeling.
Jesus understands this. He experienced hardened hearts even in his day.
Even after Jesus had performed so many signs and miracles in their presence, they still would not believe in him. —John 12: 37
But Jesus also understood that walls can come tumbling down…just like the one in Jericho. And hearts that are hard are more susceptible to fracture and fissure.
C. Joybell discovered this truth when she wrote the following:
It's the hard things that break; soft things don't break. It was an epiphany I had today, and I just wonder why it took me so very, very long to see it! You can waste so many years of your life trying to become something hard in order not to break; but it's the soft things that can't break! The hard things are the ones that shatter into a million pieces!
No matter how thick the wall, no matter how hard the heart, hard things break.
Perhaps it's time to let those walls tumble down that have protected you from pain. Those walls that have insulated you from experiencing real love. And let God in.
God says this about those walls and that hardened heart…
1See, you have nothing to fear. I, who made you,
I have chosen you, named you as My own.
2 When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm;
you will not be engulfed in raging rivers.
If it seems like you're walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs,
keep going; you won't be burned.
3 Because I, the Eternal One, am your God.
I am the Holy One of Israel, and I will save you.
4 Because you are special to Me and I love you. —Isaiah 43
Only love can truly warm and soften a hardened heart.
If you've ever experienced a hug from a friend, a meal from a neighbor, or a heartfelt gift from a family member… you've experienced love. Human love is an extension of God's precious love.
And love is not meant to be contained but to be conduit that flows out to others.
7 My loved ones, let us devote ourselves to loving one another. Love comes straight from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and truly knows God.
9 Because of this, the love of God is a reality among us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him.
10 This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
11 So, my loved ones, if God loved us so sacrificially, surely, we should love one another. —1st John 4
So, if your sense of self-preservation kicks in and you want to begin building walls to keep the pain out, think about those folks in your life that could really use a hug, a word of encouragement or a little help.
I have a quote on my fridge that says, Look forward, not backward. Look up, not down. And lend a hand.
If you've been disappointed with God because he seems to have turned his back on you, know that he is not unfeeling. He sees your heart. He sees the struggle. And he is with you through it all. He will never abandon you. Even if it might feel that way at times.
And if you cannot reconcile hungry bellies around the world, then be a part of the solution. Give of yourself. Give of your money. Support kiddos across the globe. Go on a trip to a third-world country. Serve at a homeless shelter. That's what Jesus did as he walked this earth. He reached out of himself and touched those who were hurting.
A softened heart does that.
Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts. —Charles Dickens
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts... —Hebrews 3:8