It had been extremely cold here in St. Louis—in single digits, for consecutive days, when days are short and dark is long. This prolonged freeze has caused pipes to burst, leaving neighborhoods without water. Mechanical systems fail, some plants die. The bitter air keeps people inside, hindering interaction with others. Heavy clouds block the sun. It is easy to slide into winter doldrums.
Aren’t these like the effects of a hard heart? When we are cold toward the Lord, there is no free-flow of His living water to nourish and refresh us. We tend toward dissension and isolation in relationships, and slip into unwillingness to venture out into vulnerability and generous compassion. Our resistance to sin, to despair, complaining, discontent, is low, and we can settle into a weighty cloud of negativity, narrow thinking, limited vision.
When Abram arrived at his new, unknown land in Genesis 12:1-9, every place the LORD his God led him, he built an altar and worshiped. When Nehemiah heard of his people’s trouble, he fasted and prayed to the God of heaven, confessing sin and pleading for mercy and favor (Nehemiah 1:1-14). Both men, chilled by circumstances, stayed warm persisting on their knees and looking upward, their soft hearts burning with passion.
Lord, keep me near Your altar’s fire!
“I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12
“O, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be; Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to eave the God I love! Here’s my heart, O take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above.” Robert Robinson (1735-1790)