In my part of the country, we have been experiencing drought. Very little precipitation has fallen this year. In my city home, I don’t immediately see the effects, but the nearby farmers and ranchers see it every day.
While recently walking on the nature trails, however, I noticed the difference. Usually, when I walk those trails, my feet “shush, shush” on the pliable dirt trails. I quickly noticed the effect of the drought, however, as I realized my walking would now prevent any surprise deer encounters. My loud “clomp, clomp, clomping” on the hard-baked paths would frighten any deer away long before I’d be in viewing distance.
As I continued walking, my feet loudly slapping the drought-hardened earth, I couldn’t help but think of the parable of the seeds. This path would certainly not be a good place to sow seeds. The path was hard as cement, and even if it rained, that hard ground wouldn’t absorb the water. The rain would just roll off the brick-hard surface. Certainly, nothing good could grow there.
Isn’t that path like our souls? How often do we allow them to harden and resist the living water, refusing to absorb it? When our souls become hardened with our own stubborn thoughts and pride, how can we grow and mature? How can we produce the fruit of the Spirit when we’ve become so hardened that we don’t let Him soften our souls and become teachable?
How do we convert that drought-toughened soul into a soul that’s willing to drink deeply of the living water and be willing to listen to His voice?
For me, I find it takes time and effort on my part. I often begin the softening process on the trails. There I can absorb His created beauty and focus on God, allowing all worldly thoughts and cares to leave my mind.
Of course, it doesn’t end there. I spend time in the word, talk to reliable friends, listen to and sing worship music, and spend much time in prayer. My journey back from a hardened heart to a pliable one can vary, but, with God’s guidance, I always find my way back.
What about you? What do you do when you find yourself with a hardened heart? When you feel far from God? How do you find your way back?
Father God, forgive us for those times when we turn our backs on you and walk our own paths. Forgive us for ignoring you and depending on our own abilities and thoughts, hardening our souls along the way. Teach us to turn, instead, to you for guidance. Teach us to soften our souls: to deeply drink your living water, to listen to your voice, and follow your ways.