Last week I saw a very impressive callous on a friend's elbow. My friend named Sue has bone cancer and tumors from spreading breast cancer. The cancer has eaten away part of her spine. She has a large tumor at the top of her right leg and a tumor on her back. Because of these tumors and damage to her neck from the cancer, she hasn't been able to sit in a relaxed way for almost a year. She cannot sit all the way back. She has to lean to the left and take her weight on her left elbow. Consequently her elbow has a callous that is bigger than a silver dollar and about the size of a very small pancake. Callouses form to protect our skin and the tissue and bones underneath from injury. Sometimes we get callouses on our feet or hands when we put pressure on a particular point over and over.
When I used to do a lot of pencil writing, I had a callous on my middle finger's first joint just where I held the pencil tightly.
My friend Sue's elbow has this huge callous because she puts all her weight on that elbow as she sits "like a pretzel" - that's how she describes it!
Yesterday the sermon was about the Prodigal son's older brother. We all know about the son who walked away, spent all his father's money, ended up in a pig pen (not a good place for anyone but especially a Jewish son) and finally decided to go back home. When he got home, his father ran to embrace him, gave him a robe and the family signet ring and threw a huge Bar-B-Q for the lost son who was now found.
Big Brother who stayed close to home and worked hard was really angry that his father would celebrate bad Little Brother's return home! He had a calloused heart! He worked at hanging onto his anger at his brother and father for a long time. His anger was well into boiling stage! To hold all that anger up he had to develop a very calloused heart!
We say: "My, my! What a terrible response for a brother!" - to hate his brother so much he wished him to stay dead!(as in gone to a far country never to return or be heard from again)! But we understand the bad Big Brother's heart easily because we know all about calloused hearts, don't we? We do it, too! We like to hold all that anger in against someone or other. Just like Sue's elbow, that's a lot of weight to hold up - so we soon develop a callous - a calloused heart!
My friend Sue is teaching me what a calloused heart looks like with her calloused elbow. The Prodigal's Big Brother teaches me about my calloused heart by how he acted (read the story in Luke 15) toward his brother.
In a calloused heart, the callous is there to support the anger and to "protect" the heart from the pain of REAL love. Like Sue, when we have a calloused heart, we are also all twisted up inside just like a pretzel! Only God can soften and untwist calloused hearts! The good news is that He can and always will soften and untwist calloused hearts if we are willing! God is in the business of restoring calloused hearts! What great news for this Monday morning!