“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

Psalm 95:7,8, Hebrews 3:15, Hebrews 4:7

Before reading any further… please read Ephesians 4all of it. Either in your bible or by clicking that link, so stop this reading right this instance and go read it. NOW.

I actually read it in both the NIV and NLT – both were intense, but NLT actually hit me harder. I intended to write this blog on something entirely different on a few things I felt like the Lord was speaking to my heart on a run this afternoon, yet when I went into the drafts of an old blog – I found the following verse in Ephesians 4, and then I wanted to read it in context. Little did I realize it would have summed up my past three months and especially who I have become and what I was yesterday…

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. – Ephesians 4:18

NLT states it in this way:

Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. – Ephesians 4:18

Both say the same thing… but for some reason the NLT one hits me harder.

Yesterday, all of my nasty came to a head and seeped out into everything I did and said. I was not a pleasant human to be around. My dear sister sacrificed her Saturday to be with me though and ensure that I was alright… she was excruciatingly patient with me. As were my parents. They each exhibited more love, tenderness, and patient serving in that one day than I had been in the past 3 months combined. They were brightly shining Jesus into my very dark and disgusting nature. I was humbled so greatly by the end of that day.

During one of my nasty outbursts and proud fury… my father boldly asked me how my relationship with the Lord was lately. Hours earlier he had spoken truth that was personal to where I was and it hit me right in the heart, but I was so desperate to keep holding onto my pride and I didn’t want to listen to it… I hardened up. Yet when I was caught in the middle of a fit of rage and outburst of emotion, he asked a question… a question, and one that I could not avoid. It was the very thing I needed to be asked. I broke down briefly… but… still I tried to keep my hard-hearted grip. I had gotten used to being hard… the past many months I had lived my life that way, it had become my new “default”. How could I let that go? I’d grown so accustom to it.

I knew deep in my heart that I could not keep this up any longer though. I was miserable and I knew it. I wanted to wail and scream because of how miserable I have been. Plus, I was grieving something important… someOne whom I had ignored for so long. The Lord, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

For this people’s heart has become calloused;
 they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.

Matthew 13:15 (Jesus quoting Isaiah 6:9,10… this same verse is also brought up again in Acts 28:27)

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” – Matthew 19:8

I can see there are quite a few mentions of calloused and hardened hearts in the bible. This was me… down to the tee. I had run head on believing myself to be capable of avoiding all temptation, but I’d grabbed a hold of the sin that gives birth to all other sin – pride. Believing I was fully capable of handling temptations that came my way, I hardened my heart, gradually the things that were once black and white where becoming grey… slow fade (Casting Crowns song anyone?). It all came to a head yesterday… I let my anger control me as well and gave a foothold to the devil.

I had given in to every influence thrown my way, because I’ve been an immature child not seeking after my Father or running after Him as He calls. Instead I’ve listened to lies, eating those things people fed me as if they were truth… a subtle slow fade and hardening of my heart against God. I closed my eyes, closed my ears, wandered far and separated my life from Him. It’s no wonder I cannot hear Him, understand Him, and am living hopelessly confused. I had held onto my sinful nature and former way of living… corrupted by lust and deception. Rather than walking humbly with my God, I no longer put on the new nature He had given me. I’m serious, the past 3 months of my life were summed up in Ephesians 4… things that I have done, have not done, and should do. It is intense. It is convicting.

Only His mercy can soften a calloused hard heart… but I have to turn to Him, and be healed. Turn to Him in repentance for my ways. I hate my hard heart, it’s a miserable way to live. Hard hearts are nasty. I hate my pride, it’s a miserable lonely thing to hold on to. I can’t justify my hard heartedness anymore, I miss Jesus too much – I want to hear Him again. He still reaches down and loves on us, what love and incredible mercy…

I have decided to follow Jesus. Though none go with me, still I will follow… no turning back, no turning back.

With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

But that isn’t what you learned about Christ.Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deceptionInstead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:17-32