My daughter learned to play the guitar after my husband and I bought her one a few Christmases ago. She even offered to play one of the songs she’s learned in front of a group of people, a grand feat for a nonplussed teenager. The truth is I’ve been trying to adjust to the fact that my very girly daughter has a secret streak of rocker chick.

During the process, I watched her adjust to the realities of learning guitar. She had to trim her nails and learn how to sit properly so the weight of the guitar didn’t cause her shoulder pain. Her teacher warned her that she would develop calluses on the tips of her fingers. As a mother, I had a slight issue with the calluses, but she accepted calluses as a part of the process. Call me sexist and old fashioned, but I think women should have soft hands. Besides, calluses decrease sensitivity.

As I fretted about this, the Lord impressed on me that He doesn’t like my decreased sensitivity and of course He wasn’t talking about my fingers. He was pointing out the condition of my heart. He gently pointed out several areas in my heart that I’d grown callused. And as if to prove that I’d decreased sensitivity, He poked me with His Spirit and His word a couple of times before I really felt what He was saying.

He drove the point home with Ephesians 4:17-19: “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

Now, I know the Lord wasn’t saying that I was still living like a heathen, but He used this scripture to beautifully illustrate the effects of a callused heart. Our understanding is darkened, or worse of all, we are separated from God. That’s not a place I wanted to be. I want to be sensitive to His touch.

When I delved a little deeper into this issue, I realized that the callus on my heart happened the same way natural calluses do. Our bodies protect themselves against overuse by building up layers of skin to prevent injury. Callus is a defense mechanism. I’d tried to protect my heart by building up a tough layer. Unfortunately, this tactic had made my heart less sensitive to God’s touch.

I should have committed my heart to God and let Him be my protector. Isn’t it funny that we ask God to protect us from physical injury but we won’t commit our hearts to His care? We quote scriptures about God being our shield and our buckler, but we constantly try and protect ourselves. Of course, each time we try, we fail miserably and a few more hard crusty layers end up on our hearts.

No matter how tempting it is, we can’t build up calluses to protect ourselves. We have to trust God to protect us. We also have to trust that He has enough power to heal our hearts when pain comes. If you want to play guitar, calluses are a part of the experience. But callus on the heart is not acceptable.

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