21. HOW DO WE OPEN OUR HEARTS?
How do we open our hearts to Him? It is like a man who declares his love to his girlfriend. She hears it with her ears, thinks with her mind, decides with her heart, responds consciously with her will and answers "Yes" with her mouth. (Cp. Amos 3:3) The Lord does the same with us. He says to us: "My son, my daughter, give me your heart." (Prov 23:26) We hear it with our ears, think with our minds, decide with our hearts, respond consciously with our will and answer with our mouths.
In 1954 I visited a mission station in Mpumalanga. I first had to approach the chief of the tribe to ask permission to speak to his people. While I was talking to him, I noticed three new huts that had just been completed. Around the huts was a clay wall with one opening that gave access to the huts. When the chief saw my interest in the huts, he said: "It is my new home. Do you want to look at it?"
When we were walking in the direction of the huts, he suddenly stopped, and said: "I must knock first, that they can open for us." I thought: "We are ten meters away, your arm is not that long. It is a wall made of clay not wood. They will not hear your knocking. There is an opening, not a door. How do you open an opening that is already open?"
He stood there, spoke in his language, and said: "The chief and the minister are here. May we come in?" Someone responded in his language: "The chief and the minister may come in." The chief then turned to me and said: "They have opened for us, we may go inside." The chief was knocking by means of the spoken word and entrance was obtained in precisely the same way. At that moment I thought of Revelation 3:20, and understood it much better. In this way, the Lord speaks to us through his Word and waits for our reply. We should answer in exactly the same way, by speaking. (Cp. Rev 22:17) And when we speak with God, we pray.
God speaks and we answer. Perhaps God may say to us: "Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding." (Jer 3:22) And we may answer: "Yes, we will come to you, for you are our Lord and God." (Jer 3:22) We may come before God like the lost son who said to his father: "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son." (Luke 15:21) And our heavenly Father will take us back and feast with us. (Cp. Luke 15:22-31) We may come to the Lord like the father of a boy who was possessed by an evil spirit, saying: "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief." (Mark 9:24)
Do not hesitate to come to the Lord, even if you feel that your desire to be saved is not strong enough at this moment. Scripture says: "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out." (Matt 12:20) Do not hesitate, even if you feel that you do not deserve to be saved because you are too great a sinner, for it is written: "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." (Isa 1:18)
Jesus said: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28) Perhaps He is still waiting for your answer. Tell me, to whom else will we go? He has the words of eternal life. (John 6:68) Let us rather say with Peter to Jesus: "We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:69) Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2:11) and Scripture says: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)
Why do we believe that Christ Jesus is the only Son of the living God? (Cp. John 3:16) When Jesus asked his disciples: "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Then Jesus replied: "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." (Matt 16:15-17) And Paul writes: "No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit." (1 Cor 12:3) In the same way it is the Holy Spirit Who makes us children of God and Who makes us cry out to God, "Father! my Father!" (Rom 8:15) To cry out to God means to pray to God.
We can pray as the tax collector did. He prayed to God and said: "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." (Luke 18:13) Consequently the tax collector acknowledged that in himself he was a lost sinner. (Cp. John 3:3,6) He pleaded for mercy. He confessed all his sins to the Lord (cp. Ps 32:5; Prov 28:13; 1 John 1:7-10) and acknowledged his need for a Saviour. (Cp. 1 John 5:12) He confessed his sins and placed himself at the mercy of God, and because Christ is the personification of the grace of God, we can say that he accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour.
There is no fixed recipe or formula for repentance. What is important to know, is that we are drawn by the Father to come to Jesus (John 6:44) and when we come to Him, He will never reject us (John 6:37), no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28,29); the words of God are true. (Ps 119:160)