People are unable to perceive, see and listen to God though they may look and hear because their hearts are hard. This means that key in counseling others is to ask the Lord to soften their hearts – instead of readily spewing out advice only to be frustrated with their hard hearts, which causes a bit of hardening on your own heart too. The importance of going deeper into the Presence of God, and just lingering there to intercede and ask for strategies can never be over-emphasized, especially when dealing with issues where the counselees’ hearts have, themselves, hardened.
But what causes hardening of the heart, anyway? This is what I’ve been asking God. The Lord has reminded me of a few things that I’ve struggled with a few times.
What hardens the heart:
1. Increasing lawlessness – The sin or lawlessness may not be your own; but constant exposure to it may cause a hardening of the heart.
This is exactly why I went on a FB hiatus, which weaned me off it eventually (though not entirely)
Ultimately, the antidote against increase in lawlessness is to constantly focus on Jesus, and be reminded that where sin abounds, His grace abounds even more. Should distractions get in the way, readjust your gaze to have them fixed on Jesus anew. When you see His eyes, filled with love for you, you couldn’t help but just love Him as a response.
2. Familiarity- taking for granted the presence of God. This is a pitfall for most long-time Christians and even worship leaders. They have been so accustomed to the Lord’s presence, that awe and wonder have been relegated to routines. Genuine hunger for God diminishes until it disappears. Hence, the spirit of religion, which strangles.
3. Disobedience to the promptings of the Spirit of the Lord – This includes delayed or partial obedience. Disobedience stems from choosing your own way, instead or infusing your way with God’s. It reeks of the stench of self-sufficiency and rebellion, both rooted in pride. When you see yourself making excuses before the Lord, justifying this or that, beware of this slippery slope.
Sometimes, we want to obey, but have a lot of external pressures or internal excuses. Times wn
On the other hand, what softens the heart is going deeper into the Lord’s presence. We may not know how, but we can ask the Holy Spirit for help. The Spirit helps us in our weakness and counsels us how to go deeper into the Lord. Methods and means may vary from one person to another, but these seem like the constants, which can help us refocus on Jesus:
1. Deep worship – I recall the message shared by Pastor Bernie in Windwatch the other week.
The thing is, one can be a worship leader, but have a hardened heart that has excessively become familiar to the Lord’s presence. This happens when one worships only to practice for the next “performance”.
We worship until all that we see and want is Him.
Deep and constant worship, however, is a lifestyle. It is not limited to music, although music may have a big part in it, as God invented and uses it to soften the heart, attune it to His frequency (take for example, how Saul’s heart softened and became at peace everytime David played the harp).
Progressively going deeper in worship enables one to breach the existing threshholds of familiarity and boredom.
2. The Word – This article expounds on how our minds need to be and is renewed by the washing of the Word
3. Repentance – We simply go back to the Lord and His ways, acknowledging that we have gone our own way in whole or in part, confess this and apologize, thus receiving His forgiveness. God draws us to
Daily or moment by moment surrender of our complete will and ways complements repentance. This is simply acknowledging that we need God, every hour.
4. Prayer – we need to pray for soft hearts, ask the Holy Spirit to show us any area where there has been any hardening, and ask the Lord to help us guard our hearts.