Guard Your Heart
(Part #3 - A Rock and a Hard Place)
by Ron Susek
©Golden Quill Publication
Keep [guard] your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:23 ESV
My wife and I live amid the agrarian world of central Pennsylvania. I never resent slowing down for a tractor pulling a hay wagon or an Amish buggy being driven to market. I love seeing fields with hay swaying like waves in the evening breeze, cattle and horses leisurely grazing and silos silhouetted against the twilight sky.
Piles of stones commonly edge the fields. Every year more stones are removed from the fields, making each pile higher. Clearing the fields of stones is an ongoing job. From where do the stones keep emerging?
Frost, that's where. In late fall frost chills the earth for the winter freeze. In spring the freeze surrenders back to frost, which eventually melts in the sun. All the while, the thermal force is shoving upward, pushing new rocks to the surface.
The same happens to us when our hearts grow cold. Jesus referenced the stony heart in the parable of the four soils found in Matthew 13:1-23.
Some hearts are filled with heavy rocks. When the seed, which is the word of God, falls, it sprouts then withers away for lack of moisture.
The dry season that kills the growth, Jesus said, is temptation which can also mean hard testing.
We all think that our hard testing is unique, beyond anything ever experienced. Severe testing is like a dark island with howling wind and rain. You cannot see the footprints of those who have been there before you. Still, Paul wrote: "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."1 In short, many have been to the island of hard testing.
How can you prepare for hard testing? First allow no frost in your heart toward God. Learn to side with God. The Psalmist wrote: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.2
Next, constantly clear all rocks as they emerge. They will only weigh you down. No one can win a race (natural or spiritual) with excess weight. Let no rocks remain!
Hard testing will come more than once. If the rocks are removed and the soil is prepared, what is meant for evil God turns to good. So, toss out the rocks and prepare your heart for God's presence, God's power and God's purpose. "I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."3
Immanuel: God is with you!
11 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
2Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
3Jeremiah 17:10 ESV
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