I’m heading towards the finish line again this year in the One Year Bible (aren’t you ever so impressed?). To be honest, the latter part of the year in the Old Testament gets pretty depressing. All of these prophets with similar messages: “Stop rebelling and turning away from God!” “Judgment is coming! Really, it’s coming! Seriously, people!” And we know the sad eventuality—that though people were warned over and over and over, for literally hundreds of years by dozens of prophets, they remained stubborn. The Bible uses a funny word—“stiff-necked”. But the adjustment they needed wasn’t really in their neck, was it? It was a heart problem. All that warning and still they had hard hearts! You know what? We’re not any different.
One prophet, Hosea, has such rich imagery to point us in the right direction. In Hosea 10, God invites us to “break up the hard ground of your hearts.” If you’ve ever put a shovel into sun-baked Arizona dirt, you know about hard ground. Not fun to dig into. And I know I’ve got some hardened places in my heart—places of self-protection, self-promotion, well, just plain too much self! But I love the idea of Jesus and I inserting a spade in there—turning over the soil, breaking up the clods, picking out rocks. Making it soft again. Where something good can grow. Seems to fit well with another song we sing this time of year, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Making space for Jesus requires some calm and quiet, sure. But it also involves some digging. So how about it? Will you and Jesus grab a spade and plunge into some hard spots? Yep, it’s hard work. But you’ll be glad that you did.