There is a wonderful Jewish story about a man named Akiva. He was a sheep herder who hated anyone who was spiritual or religious. One day while taking care of his masters sheep, he stopped along a riverbank to drink from the stream. While kneeling down to drink, something strange caught his attention in the water below. There was a large stone sticking out of the water but it appeared to have a very deep hole on the one side of it. As Akiva looked closer he noticed that a very small amount of water fell continually on the area where the large hole was. He watched this for some time until he felt a sudden burning in his own heart. Just at that moment his master’s daughter Rachel arrived and inquired about his observation. Transfixed, he told her “ this water even though it appears weaker then the stone, has made a big hold in the very hard stone because it continually flowed over it every day. Look at what it did! Do you think there is hope for me and my stony heart, if I turn to God and study his word little by little?” Rachel told him that there was always hope, the two of them later married and Akiva became one of the greatest Jewish scholars and rabbi’s of all time. He doubted his ability to do it but his wife Rachel encouraged me over and over again.
I really love this little story because it teaches us something so simple and yet so profound. It speaks to me about the very moment and very afternoon where God found my stony heart. I know that for years He had dropped His Love softly on to my heart – from a young age I felt it but there was a specific day where I had to embrace it. It was on that afternoon where God turned this stony heart around and my life would never be the same again. HalleluYah praise His Name! For many of you, your prayers have not yet been answered for those stony hearts you have been praying for. But I pray that the Holy Spirit will weaken your weary knees from its long hours of prayer and that soon His prompting and “dripping” will lead those stony hearts of family members, colleagues and friends to turn to Him. Rabbi Akiva was forty years old when he had this experience, some would call him a late bloomer, but God can do momentous things in 5 minutes for someone whose heart is completely abandoned to the call. Furthermore when we surrender completely to our Father and King, the hole in the stony heart becomes bigger! Until the stony heart is broken up and flowing freely with the waves and rapids.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Yahweh wants to change our hearts, causing it to be soft and abandoned to His whispers and His calls. The Holy Spirit is the One who softens hard hearts and heals wounds that cause walls to be built around our hearts. For those of you who are struggling with your own walls or with the walls of others, I pray that just like Rabbi Akiva, that you will experience the cleansing, continuous touch of the Holy Spirit on the surface of your heart. Messiah’s Love is strong enough, able enough and more than enough to reach out and touch the most hardest of hearts!
Scripture: Hebrews 3: 15 as it has been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."
How is God speaking to your heart today? What matters of hardness or heaviness is He trying to deal with? Are there wounds He is trying to clean out? How may you surrender more to God’s call in your life today? What is God saying to your heart today? Were you a late or early bloomer - reflect on the beautiful way that God saved you and let's rejoice today in all the work that He has done in us!