Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, 
but I delight in your law.  
– Psalm 119:70

Calluses have been an issue for me recently.

I used to play competitive tennis. At that time, I had quite a callus on my right thumb from the way I hold the racquet. A couple of weeks ago, I started to play again quite a bit. I ignored the pain in my thumb because I enjoyed playing tennis again so much. Without the calluses, my thumb objected strenuously! OUCH!

Yesterday I had the privilege of leading our church congregation at Cool Community Church in worship. All last week, I spent a lot of time in prayer and practice, working on the music that I felt God wanted us to use to worship him during yesterday’s service. I hadn’t played my guitar much in a number of weeks and I was reminded that calluses develop on the left fingers of a guitar player for a reason. I ignored the pain because I needed to practice. Without the calluses my fingertips objected strenuously!  OUCH!

I just looked to the “repository of all knowledge,” Wikipedia, to see what calluses are exactly and how they develop. Not that I don’t already know from experience, but I thought it might be interesting. There wasn’t much information, but what was there was intriguing:

A callus (or callosity) is an especially toughened area of skin which has become relatively thick and hard in response to repeated friction, pressure, or other irritation. Rubbing that is too frequent or forceful will cause blisters rather than allow calluses to form. Since repeated contact is required, calluses are most often found on feet because of frequent walking.

An especially toughened area of skin which has become relatively thick and hard in response to repeated contact.

The callus on my thumb has begun to develop again. Already, enough repeated friction, pressure, or other irritation has caused the thickening and hardening of the skin to develop. The last time I played, I had hardly a thought for my thumb. All the ignoring of the pain served the purpose of developing the callus. Now I can play without pain.

In just a week, by repeated exposure of my left hand fingers to the metal strings of my guitar, playing again and again, the calluses have redeveloped. Yesterday morning, I played through the worship set without any discomfort to my left fingers.

It is amazing how quickly that hardening and thickening can happen.

And so it is with my heart. Last week I mentioned the responses to God’s voice that are evident in Exodus 7. God’s voice is, in many ways, a constant pressure. I am so thankful that I have “repeated exposure” to his voice. He continues to speak.

Yet I have ignored the pain of not obeying him. I have done it enough times now that I can do so with hardly a thought given to the entire thing. YIKES!

It hasn’t taken long to develop a callused heart.

Just as my thumb doesn’t mind the rubbing of the racquet handle any more and my fingers the pressure of the metal strings beneath them on the fret board of my guitar, my heart has sort of…well…adapted…and now I can ignore God’s voice without as much difficulty.

Rather than rejoice in the fact as I do with my thumb and my fingers, I actually want the pain that comes when I sense God’s voice and refuse to obey.

With calluses that are unwanted, there are ways of encouraging the softening of the skin again. One of the things is to no longer ignore the pain of friction, rubbing, pressure, and repeated exposure. The other is to take something to the skin–like oil or lotion–and gently rub it in repeatedly.

Today, I commit not to ignore the pain that is present when I ignore God’s voice. I will also allow his Word to be worked in and through me as I intentionally check in with him today and meditate on memorized verses. I have my watch set for every 15 minutes and I will not let any of those beeps go by without talking to him. Lord, here is my heart again. I want to be softened, tender, and responsive to your touch and your voice.

What will you do today to prevent your heart from being calloused? If you know you have a calloused heart, what practical things can you do to become softened again?

The primary way I notice the hardening of my heart is relative to my eating and drinking. These are a barometer of my relationship with God for me. Are they for you? 🙂