Sometimes, it seems like my heart has callouses. I've asked the Lord to cleanse my heart, remove the old oil--the bitterness--and fill me anew with the Holy Spirit. I believe He has done this, but still I know there are hard, crusty places that He needs to work on. I still have a struggle with being hard-hearted at times. In other words, sometimes I'm more like a cold-hearted snake than a caring, compassionate believer. How did this happen? I have a theory.
The cold and unfeeling state is my normal state if I allow genetics --the flesh--to be in control. I never met my paternal grandmother, she died many years before I was born, but I'm told that she was a little on the hateful side. In my younger days, I'm afraid I was pretty hard on her. I didn't know how she could be so cold and still claim to be a Christian. Oh the foolish words of youth! I'm sorry I ever judged her, because now that I have experienced more of life I have discovered something about my grandmother from examining my own character. Even though I never met her, I have a feeling that she was simply reacting to the storms of life. She developed an edge because life ran over her, then backed up and ran over her again. She had it really hard, in a time when women weren't treated with very much respect by our society. She was a single mom and did the best she could with what life gave her. She just ended up a little hard and calloused in the process.
How did I figure this out? The revelation came to me as I was praying a little while ago. Lately, I have been asking the Lord to show me the truth, and set me free. Well, the truth I saw tonight wasn't very pretty. I saw that I have been living in circumstances similar to my grandmother. She was divorced when my dad was a teen. She lived with some of the same heartbreaks as I have. She made the best of a bad situation, just as I have. I'm sure she made her share of mistakes, as I have. I am humbled by the picture I got when I realized this.
I have a granddaughter now, and I don't want her to look at my life when she's a little older and say I am mean-spirited and bitter. The hard truth is, in an unregenerated state, our flesh will repeat the patterns set in place from previous generations. Without the Lord's saving grace and regeneration of my heart, I would be doomed to live in a state of misery, not allowing the Holy Spirit to work in my heart to transform me and the end result would most likely be very much the same. Thank God for the cross of Jesus Christ! Because He took the curse of my sin on Himself when He died for me, I don't have to live in that cursed state.
So, as I spend time in His presence, the hard, calloused places in my heart will soften. I will be become more like Jesus as I spend more time with Him. It's a work in progress, denying the flesh and living in the Spirit, becoming a "new creation in Christ." (2 Corinthians 5:17)
"Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children." Romans 8: 12-16 (NIV).