An open heart is one God can work with. One that is open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. One that hears His voice calling, even when the feet are straying.
When Jesus’ disciples asked him about who could get into Heaven, He used a child as an illustration for them. You have to have faith of a child. The place that faith resides in in the heart. So, I would say you have to have the heart of a child. A heart that sees good and not only evil. One that is not suspicious but curious. One full of wonder with a desire to learn. One that is tender to the pain of others and hurts when it is the cause of pain.
The ”heart of a child” isn’t all perfection. Little children can be stubborn, selfish, and sneaky. It is the responsibility of the parent to train them up to leave these traits behind. As our Father, He and the Holy Spirit ‘train’ these traits out of us too.
My mom, when I was growing up, often said that she wished I would have a child that was just like me when I was a child. I’m pretty sure this was her way of saying that she wanted me to see how hard it was to deal with some of my issues as a grown up. She had received this same lesson as a parent, as she tells me that I was a lot like her when she was a child. Her wish, curse, or prayer came true! My middle son was the stubborn and angry one. I nearly pulled my hair out with him over the years. He was also the sneaky one. He would hide his ‘transgressions’ from me as best his little mind could.
I used to ration the sugar my children were allowed. One morning, a few days after Halloween, my kids asked me if they could have some candy. I allowed them each two pieces. My middle son, David, was probably about 4 at the time. He asked for more. I told him he already had enough for the day and that he would get some more tomorrow. He walked away and I thought that was the end of it. A little while later I hear this rustling sound. It is coming from behind the rocking chair. I walk around the chair to discover my son sitting there with the bag of Halloween candy, trying to open another piece with three wrappers already discarded on the floor. I don’t know how he did it, but he got the bag off the high cupboard and took it to a good hiding spot to indulge his childlike desires. I shared this story with his wife a few days ago and she says he doesn’t act like he was ever rationed on candy. He eats it as much as he wants now. I said that maybe he was making up for lost time. I have to says though, that was the ONLY time I ever caught him sneaking things he was told he couldn’t have. He did like to sneak out his bedroom window and across the top of the shed but that was more of a desire to climb than a desire to get out unseen.
Point is, his heart knew it was wrong. He wouldn’t have hid otherwise. The Holy Spirit makes it known to us when we are doing wrong. When we listen, God is pleased and can work with us. But when we refuse correction and harden our heart, we make it harder on God AND on ourselves.
GOD DOES NOT GIVE UP ON HIS KIDS. When we have truly given our life to Him, He will call out to us continually. As we walk along, we are in constant conversation. When we start to get off track, He calls us back. If we refuse to listen or are so distracted with the sin, He calls a little louder. If we continue to refuse to listen, He stands by with His arms open and waiting as we dig ourselves into trouble. Those times are the lessons we need along the way. And as soon as we turn back to Him we can move on again in easy conversation.
I was thinking about the story of the Prodigal Son. In this story, the father completely lost track of his son. He didn’t know if he was even alive. But he NEVER gave up hope. He watched and waited for him daily. Before he left, I have no doubt that the father tried to persuade him to stay.
It took being completely on his own, without his father’s money for protection, and falling as far as he could imagine before he came to the other side of his lesson. Only then was he ready to come back and ask for forgiveness. His hard heart softened and he recognized how horribly he had treated his father and the gifts his father had given him. He was ready to repent but expected no forgiveness. He not only received forgiveness but also restoration of the relationship. He had the physical consequences of no longer having any inheritance but that was nothing compared to the love he received from his father.
Love WILL let us fall into calamity if that is what it takes to bring us back to the Father. He doesn’t make it happen to us but He uses the circumstances we have put ourselves into to teach us and reach us.
Father God, as unpleasant as many of my ‘lessons’ have been, THANK YOU for caring enough to allow them in my life. Thank You for NEVER giving up on me! Thank You for softening my heart and my son’s. Keep working on me because I KNOW I still have a LONG way to go! I KNOW You will go with me; every step along the way.