“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”(Hebrews 3:15b NLT)
“What’s that?” I asked my friend as we strolled through the market in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, USA, near the Mexican border. She had just bought a cone-shaped object, shrink-wrapped in cellophane.
“It’s piloncillo, raw sugar. Here, have a taste.”
It was so hard that I couldn’t bite into it. She had to get out a pocket knife to cut off a small sliver. Soon, its sweetness melted in my mouth.
Compare that with the brown sugar that we use at home. If we keep the lid of the container tightly closed, the brown sugar stays soft and can easily be used. If the lid hasn’t been closed properly, the sugar forms a hard lump, making it hard to work with. At least it’s easily remedied by adding a slice of apple to the container, unlike the piloncillo, which is hard enough to need a hammer to break it down.
The piloncillo reminded me of the story in Exodus, where the Israelites longed to leave Egypt where they had been cruelly enslaved for 400 years. The ruler of the country, Pharaoh, did not want to let his workforce go free. His heart was like the cone of raw sugar, impossible to work with.
Pharaoh responded with stubbornness, a hardened heart, each time Moses pleaded with him to let the people of Israel go. After a punishing plague, he would relent and say, “I will let you go”, but this proved to be a false promise. Time and again, Pharaoh hardened his heart. God had given him many opportunities to heed Moses’ warnings, but enough was enough! After the sixth plague, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart for the last time — nothing would move him. Pharaoh couldn’t believe that anyone existed who was greater than he was, and ultimately, he faced the consequences of his stubbornness against God — the death of his first-born son.
Similarly, after a while of resisting God, we may find it impossible to turn to Him. Let’s not wait for conditions to be right to turn to Him. Let’s do it right away, while we still have the chance. It could be a major decision, like turning to Him for the very first time, or minor decisions that we have to make every day. Are we going to cling to our own way, or yield to God’s better way?
If we continually ignore God’s voice, soon we won’t be able to hear it at all. Let’s not be stubborn like Pharoah, whose heart was unyielding, like the cone of raw sugar.
“Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns. Change your hearts before the Lord.” (Jeremiah 4:3b,4b NLT)
Let’s have hearts that are soft — like the brown sugar — through continual communion with God and following the ways that He shows us.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that we can hear You speaking to us when our hearts are soft and yielding. Help us to be mindful of the state of our heart, so we can keep it “plowed up” and ready to receive the good seed of Your Word. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Copyright © 2022, by Alice Burnett <firstname.lastname@example.org>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca .
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
Reprinted from PresbyCan with author’s permission