“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
I feel a bit of a weight today as I begin to write on this warning. Because how often is this the temptation? The warning applies not only to the initial calling of God’s salvation, for us to choose Him and choose abundant, eternal life and forgiveness; it also applies to those of us currently walking with Christ.
As we learn about Him, as we grow in our knowledge of Him, He brings us face-to-face with the parts of ourselves we would rather keep hidden. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:11). His Word is active. Because His Spirit is at work within us, unfolding the Word of God and enlightening our hearts to see the truth – about Him, about ourselves, about the world.
So the choice is then laid before us, just as it is laid before all who encounter the gospel of Christ and the truth of God’s Word: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Life is placed before us. Abundant life with Christ. And we are given a choice. Will we harden our hearts, ignoring His words of life, and defiantly continue on our path regardless of what God would lead us to? Or will we humble ourselves, open our hearts to receive His teaching, and choose to obey Him no matter the cost?
At times it may cost us dearly. But let us fix our eyes on the cross. The reason the Son of God endured the agony of the crucifixion, the torturous beatings, the betrayal and abandonment of His closest friends, was so that we would know life. Not just life in heaven, but abundant life and freedom here. Defiance does not bring freedom. Arrogance and stubbornness do not bring joy. Only obedience, borne out of our love for and faith-filled surrender to our God, will bring the freedom and joy that we seek.
It may require great risk, but know this: God will not abandon you as you endeavor to follow Him. When you risk everything for His sake, He will come through for you. He will provide. He will uphold. He will strengthen you for the task.
But first you must choose.
I’m reading through the book Anything by Jennie Allen. In it, she gives a quote from a seminary professor she once had: “To risk is to willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future, then to watch him come through. He starts to get real when you live like that.” The reason God starts to get real when you take the risk of surrendering everything, determining to obey no matter what, is because you are setting your eyes on Him instead of everything else. And because you put yourself in a position to experience how He comes through for His own.
Whatever your struggle is today, whatever God is revealing to your heart that must be surrendered, I pray that you will not harden your heart. I pray that I will not harden my heart, because I certainly am not immune to the temptation to cling to something other than Christ. Know that He understands what you’re dealing with as you struggle. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Draw near today to the throne of grace. You will find forgiveness and mercy there, and grace to help you surrender. None of this is done in our own strength. Salvation is accomplished by the power of God, through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. And our further sanctification (the purifying of our hearts and the work that transforms us into Christ-likeness) is completed by the Spirit of God within us. Jesus has been there. He understands. He intercedes for you even now.
Make the choice. Life and death have been set before you today: Choose life, that you may know the greatness and wonder and mercy of our God, and step into the abundant life He has for you.
“The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious;
I turned not backward…
But the Lord GOD helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”
Isaiah 50:5, 7
“Peter began to say to him, ‘See, we have left everything and followed you.’
Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house
or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands,
for my sake and for the gospel,
who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time…with persecutions,
and in the age to come eternal life.’”