Breaking up a Hardening Heart

Aug. 5 mid-morning

I am waiting for the alarm on my cell phone to go off with another alert. For
several days it has ruled over the residents of Northeastern California
demanding our attention. We read the messages to see who is under mandatory
evacuation. My friend and I were just finishing a meeting for Women’s Bible
Study Monday afternoon when an alert stopped our conversation mid-sentence.
“It’s you,” I said.

The warning for Westwood, where I live, came last night when the Dixie Fire
burned most of downtown Greenville and skirted Chester. Just
a warning to pack and be ready to leave. Warnings are given before a
mandatory evacuation.

Outside my window I hear the wind begin to stir the pine trees that tower
above the houses. I pray for God to stop the wind. I pray our town will not
burn; our house will not burn. I hold my breath as I look once again…has
the wind stopped?

Finished Aug. 6…

As I drove over Donner Summit late in the afternoon Thursday, Aug. 5,
the landscape of hard, gray granite mountains mirrored my heart. It felt
about as gray and hard as the rock I was looking at. I prayed and prayed
for God to stop the fire only to hear the alarm on my phone go off with
the alert to evacuate Westwood immediately. Then the siren at the
firehouse began to wail, confirming the message. We were the last
community in the vicinity of the Dixie Fire to get the message.
All plans to contain the blaze had failed.

And so, on the long stretch of road across the Sierra Mountains on
my drive to Sacramento, I allow all types of thoughts to cross my
mind. Bleak thoughts… until a feeling that I am deserted by God
consumes me. Why didn’t God stop the wind? Instead, it seemed to
grow stronger and stronger. The Cal Fire incident report confirmed
the wind would direct the fire. Although extraordinary efforts
prevented the fire from burning into neighboring Chester, it was racing
onward into Lassen National Park, the Caribou Wilderness, and
Silver Lake. Highway 36 west was closed and County Road A21.
It seems it can’t be stopped.

Then I remember the Lord of Hosts, the name that proclaims
God as the universal ruler over every force on heaven and earth.
“The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of
Israel is our fortress.” [Psalm 46:11 NLT] My copy of the book
“Praying the Names of God” by Ann Spangler is on the
bookshelf in my study. If I were writing there, instead of on a
folding table in the living room of my Mom’s house, I would
grab it and refresh my memory. I am wearing a headset and
listening to Christian music to drown out distractions.

One song pierces my heart. It is not the first time God has
spoken to me through the lyrics either. “Thy will be done;
thy will be done; thy will be done.” My heart can be obstinate
This is the song God would sing to me driving over
Fredonyer Pass returning from a chemo infusion the winter
of 2020.

“I know you’re good, but this don’t feel good right now,” sings
Hillary Scott. And my heart concurs.1

“Your plans are for me,” I am reminded by the song lyrics.
I know the agape love God has for me means He only has
the best. God chose me to become like His Son, so that His
Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and
sisters. [Romans 8:29]

I often read Scripture and say, “Yes Lord!” but do I walk it?
My treasure is not to be stored on earth but in heaven.
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your
heart will also be.” [Matthew 6:21 NLT] God is at work
on the desires of my heart.

Also, God has been interrupting “my” schedule for over a
year. It seems I would have surrendered my calendar by
now. But no, thus another lesson. “How do you know
what your life will be like tomorrow…what you ought
to say is, “if the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this
or that.” [James 14a and 15 NLT]

The gray, granite that has encompassed my heart is slowly
crumbling. God loves me so much He will take me through
fire to make my heart like that of his firstborn.

Contemplate Your Ways:

1-Join me in the examination process. Is your heart developing
any hardness? What have you discovered?

1-“Thy Will” lyrics by Bernie Herms, Hillary Scott and
Emily Lyn Weisband.

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