The Great Slave Lake can be powerful and majestic when its mighty swells are driven by the winds, or it can be bleak and frozen and still like the winter ice. It is a marvel to me that a lake as vast as an ocean can become frozen over each winter. Yet, it is even more of a wonder that the human heart can do that too.
The human heart can be majestic and inspiring, reaching the heights of God’s love, or it can be as hard as the rivers that turn into trucking roads in the far North. Hardening begins subtly, like the lure of Turkish Delight that the White Witch used to captivate Edmund in Narnia. Then the chill of cynicism or the freeze of trust results in the loss of natural affection. God’s way seems like a fairy tale, and love becomes a passing sentiment. Simply being emotional does not mean the heart is tender. The heart is more than emotions; it is mind, will and emotions combined. Tenderness of heart includes being sensitive, pliable and yielding. Puritan Richard Sibbes say the tender, “quakes at threatenings, obeys precepts, melts at promises and the promises sweeten the heart.“
The heart of man is in such a desperate state that there is no remedy except for a heart transplant.
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. Ezek. 36:26
This new kind of heart enjoys the word of God and beats wildly when touched by His Spirit. Yet still, my old nature threatens to undo the good work of the Spirit at every turn. It seems I live in a world where Turkish Delights are offered on every corner. The pleasure and profits of the world are competing with the Spirit for my affections. Who will I yield to today? “The hard heart is like wax to the devil and stone to God or goodness.” says Sibbes. The one we yield to is the one who gets our heart.
Here we need the Spirit’s help. In my struggles I discovered the simple prayer of King David, “Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!” In praying this, I turn my heart away from the lure of pleasure and profit and even away from the inner battle and trust in God to direct my heart to his promises. “The highest form of prayer”, says Julian of Norwich, “is to the goodness of God.
”God only desires that our souls cling to him with all of its strength, in particular, that it clings to his goodness. For of all the things our minds can think about God, it is thinking upon his goodness that pleases him most and brings the most profit to our soul. “
St. Theresa of Avila