“Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not know my ways.“ Hebrews 3:8-10
I have been in many a church service where I was convicted by the Word of God. During the preaching, I have felt like a spotlight turned on and the spotlight operator pointed it directly at me. It seemed as though the room emptied out and it was just me and the pastor, and he was pointing his finger directly at me. My heart would go into my throat and my palms would became sweaty. I felt like everyone in the building was looking at me, and I could not wait to be rid of the conviction. I know we are faced with two decisions when we are faced with conviction and that is either to fight or to repent. Sometimes I could not wait for the service to be over so I could head for the back door, and there have been other times when I knew I needed to go forward. The times I did go forward I felt the magnetic pull of the Holy Spirit drawing me in to make things right with God, and it was if there was something pulling me to the altar. I stood in my row and tried to grab onto my chair or pew, but when God calls, there is no resisting the power of conviction as my legs soon followed the pull of conviction.
Our Pastor asked in a message if we have ever felt the feeling of conviction. I almost laughed out loud as I am not sure of a Christian who has not felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit. I am grateful that I have felt God burdening my heart in many instances, and He has used preaching, rebuking from my wife, and godly friends to prod me in the right way. In my teenage years, it seemed to be a goal of mine to not cave in to conviction but to rather fight against it. I made pacts with friends to not go forward and be convicted, and I failed miserably in trying to keep this pact. It seemed the more I fought against God, the more He pursued me and allowed me to suffer the consequences of my sin. I recall times in my life when I cried out to Him because I felt my consequences were too hard, and yet He reminded me of my sinful choices and my hard heart. I also remember the sweet tears of conviction and getting right with God and knowing real joy and happiness. When I made things right with Him, it seemed the air was cleaner and my rest was sweet and uninterrupted.
Have there been times in your life when you have hardened your heart against God? Have you chased worldly pursuits and advice, hoping to make your own way? Have you resisted when He has spoken to you and said no to His urging in your life? The Israelites forgot the parting of the Red Sea and the provisions of God and hardened their hearts. We are the same way and often forget the goodness of our God and forget all the things He has done in our lives. We have access to the truths of God’s Word, but yet we are too busy and our souls too noisy to hear His calling and leading. We forget His way and tried to forge our own due to our sinful, hardened heart. God is always speaking if we will listen, but a hard heart shuts out His conviction and leading. Will you soften your heart and cry tears of true repentance, or will you instead just ask Him to remove the consequences of sin? May we be like Samuel and say, “Speak; for thy servant hearth.”