My brother Jim is a really great cook. He’s so good he was on NBC’s cooking show Food Fighters and won against some nationally known chefs.
So, I had a question for him about the heart. I’ve been thinking about the fact that when we don’t pay attention to our hearts they sometimes become hardened and tasteless, like a hard piece of steak lacking the flavor and tenderness.
Jim said, “I think about how you can take a very tough piece of meat, like brisket or a shoulder, and with the proper marinade and patience you can turn that shoe leather meat into a spectacular, delicious, piece of meat that falls apart at the slightest touch. It is so similar to a hard heart that is tough and lacking seasoning and flavor. With love, patience, and the presence of the Lord (the marinade), that hard heart can become soft and tender.”
I think he’s got it.
The patient soaking of the marinade, the Holy Spirit, allows my heart and your heart to become much more tender and flavorful. As followers of Christ we want to have tender hearts toward God and others. And we want to give off the distinct flavor of the fruit of the Spirit….
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23) NASB
Interestingly, Psalm 37:4 speaks of being tender toward God:
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
The word delight means tender, dainty, soft or delicate – to take exquisite delight.
If my heart is tender or pliable towards God, then I can be more easily molded and shaped by Him. On the other hand, if I’m cynical, resistant or resentful toward God or others, my heart will be much harder to change. Like a tough steak with little flavor.
While being delicate and tender is not thought of as ‘manly’ in our testosterone-laced culture, in the sight of God, it’s vital if we want to experience the desires of our heart like the verse says. Interestingly, when we become delicate and tender toward God, our desires somehow change into His desires and thus, our desires align to His desires. When that happens we WILL get the desires of our heart, since they are also the desires of His heart.
There are several ways to “marinate” and become more tenderized toward God. The most fruitful way I’ve found is to just sit still in His presence – to soak, as a steak might soak in marinade. We need this uninterrupted, quiet time to allow the Word of God, His presence, His love, His Spirit to simply pour over us…and to begin to seep in.
One way to do this is through an ancient prayer and meditation process called Lectio Divino – which simply means divine reading. Here are the simple steps.
- Quietly and very slowly read a single scripture passage 4 or 5 times.
- Circle or underline words or a phrase that touch your heart in the scripture.
- Ask God to prompt you as to what the words you underlined mean for you.
- Offer a prayer to God about that word or phrase that God prompted.
- Just “sit” restfully in the scripture or words for a few minutes.
Essentially, we are asking the Holy Spirit to help us understand the living word of God. The result is our being more tender and warm toward God and being full of the fruit and flavor of God for others to experience.
Hebrews 4:12 reminds us of the power of the living Word of God:
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (NASB)
John 14:26 reminds us:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (NASB)
Oh Father, I want a heart that is tender toward you, that exquisitely delights in You alone. Lord help me to marinate in You, to soak in Your Word, Your presence and Your love. God, this world is busy and often measures my value by my activity and achievement. But, for a sacred time Lord, I want to rest with You, soak in You, be with You. Will you please nudge me to recall each time I eat a steak that I need to marinate in You, to tenderize my heart toward You, so that my desires align to Yours and You will is done in and through me. In the living name of Jesus I pray Father, Amen.