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Dear Friend,

     How do we keep our hearts soft toward the Lord? How do you and I avoid becoming hard and brittle? Can we keep ourselves from being hardened by the trials and tests of life?

     It is disturbingly easy for our hearts to become hard. What can make this happen? Legalism; pride; deliberate sin; anger; resentment; jealousy; stubbornness. Every day, these negative emotions are crouching at the door of our lives. If we yield to them, our hearts get harder and harder. But we can resist these forces. We can resolve to stay soft and pliable.


Dealing with Stubbornness

     I don’t consider myself to be a rigid, difficult person. But I readily recognize that there is a stubborn side to me that can easily lead to hardness in my heart. Of all the items in the list above, stubbornness is the one I have battled for most of my life.  It sometimes expresses itself in the form of a prideful self-reliance—an attitude of, “I’ve got this!”

     Throughout my youth, for some reason, I purposefully decided at times to be tough and inflexible. As a folk singer in the 1960s, one of my themes was the Simon and Garfunkel lyric: “I am a rock; I am an island. And a rock feels no pain; and an island never cries.”

     As a teenager, I had even memorized the poem, “Invictus,” by William Ernest Henley. I would proudly declare lines from it like, “My head is bloody, but unbowed,” or, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” The Lord has done a progressive, insistent work in me to root out those stubborn, independent tendencies from my early years.
 

The Decision We Make

     God has used one especially helpful verse—Hebrews 3:15—in His process of purging stubbornness and prideful self-reliance from me. “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” The first encouraging point is that we can hear God’s voice. He continues to speak to us loud and clear. When He does, we have a decision to make. Will we listen and obey? Or will we resist and go our own stubborn way?

     Another truth God showed me is that He does not command us to do something that is impossible for us. When He says, “Do not harden,” it is an action we have the ability to take. Beyond that, however, we can go an extra step. We can resolve to do the opposite of hardening—actively softening our hearts before Him as a deliberate act of receptivity.

     You and I can decide to soften ourselves—yielding our lives and hearts to Him.
  

The Grace of Yielding

     Does this topic strike a resonant chord with you? Maybe not. Perhaps you have been exempt from any ongoing problem in this area of hardening your heart. I sincerely hope that is the case. In fact, it’s okay with me if this whole letter only applies to me.

     Even so, as I was writing on this theme, the title of a message by Derek Prince kept coming to mind: “The Grace of Yielding.” In this classic teaching, Derek talks about the process of keeping ourselves useful and pliable in God’s hands, humbling ourselves and denying ourselves so God can use us more. That is a message each of us needs to heed.

     As a Christian, my first motive is not to get away with as much as I can legally. It is to do what Jesus Christ wants me to do. Once you begin to live by seeking to please Jesus, you will inevitably lead a life that is completely different than that of the unconverted and the unbeliever round about you. You won’t need to peddle a lot of doctrine; it will make you different.

     Paul says we ought not to please ourselves. Do you know what I‘ve learned? Any time I do anything effective for God that is acceptable to Him, I begin by not pleasing myself. I have discovered this as an inevitable rule. Every time I’m pleasing myself, I’m doing nothing that is worth anything for God.

     The first step I must take is to deny myself. This ego in me that is always asserting itself saying, “I want, I wish, I feel, I think, if you ask me, that’s what I like” has got to be denied. I have to say no.

     There is no problem knowing what it means to deny yourself. To deny is to say no. All you have to do is to say no to yourself. And if you don’t say no to yourself—and continue saying no to yourself—you cannot lead a Christian life. You cannot be a self-pleaser and a Christ pleaser. It’s impossible.
 

Taking a Step

    Is the Lord speaking to you about staying soft and pliable for His use? Are you aware of some obstacles that have cropped up in your life? Have those adverse circumstances—or other challenges in your life and personality—caused a hardening to take place?

     If so, let’s take a minute right now to place it all before the Lord.
     
     Lord, I sincerely want to present You with a soft and pliable heart. But I have to confess that sometimes the challenges of life and my own personality have produced just the opposite—a heart that has been hardened by adversity and stubbornness. I want to reverse that tendency with this prayer today.

     Dear Lord, I take the step with this prayer of softening my heart before You. I don’t know exactly how to do this, but I declare my desire to tenderize my heart to You and all Your purposes for me. Rather than hardening myself to what You say to me, I want to receive it gladly. I want Your words to find good soft soil in my heart.

     Please forgive me, Lord, when I have rejected or neglected Your words through pride, self-reliance, or contrariness. I repent, Jesus—and maybe that is the first step in the softening process. I tenderize my heart before You. Amen.
 

Open and Responsive

     The prayer you and I have just prayed is a game-changer. We have opened ourselves up completely to whatever the Lord brings us, pledging that we will be receptive and responsive to Him, rather than reticent and contrary. That is a huge step.

     All of us here at DPM stand with you in the significant action you have just taken. As an extra step, I would strongly recommend that you absorb all that Derek Prince shared in his classic message, “The Grace of Yielding.” In it, you will hear excellent teaching, with biblical examples of people like you and me who yielded themselves to the Lord.

     We are thrilled to be a partner with you in your journey of faith. Thank you for linking arms with us in the work of Derek Prince Ministries, and for helping us through your prayers and financial support. You are a blessing to us.
 

Staying Soft

     Just to end on a positive note. As you can see, I have been quite transparent in this letter about the problematic outbreaks of my own stubbornness. I want to testify that through the Lord’s help and the input of those close to me, good changes have come.

     My wife, Cindi, who has stood by me faithfully for almost fifty years now, has been especially helpful. As I get into my later years, she has pledged to help me avoid becoming a stubborn, crotchety old man. One pointed passage she regularly reminds me of is Ecclesiastes 4:13 (NASB): “A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction.”

     It’s a good reminder for persons of any age. We must stay open and tender—first to the Lord and what He says to us, and to the input He wants to bring us through the loving people around us. Rather than getting rigid and hard, we need to stay soft and pliable! 
  
All the best,
 
Dick signature
 
 
 

Dick Leggatt
President, DPM–USA

P.S. We are so grateful for your connection with DPM. Thank you again for every way in which you stay in touch. Please make sure to take advantage of our free download of Derek’s classic message, “The Grace of Yielding.” It will help in the softening process.
 

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