Some 225 million years ago a dense forest with a tropical climate was flooded by rain storms that sent mud and sediment washing it to the lowlands. Conifers 200 feet tall and 9 feet in diameter lived and died there. Volcanic eruptions blanketed the area in ash and debris, causing oxygen and insects to mix with ground water and form silica. This became known as “Chinie Formation”, or as we commonly call it – The Petrified Forest. (1)
In these formations scattered across the U.S. we find petrified rock. Let’s review what exactly that stuff is.
Petrified rock is a fossil that is formed when a plant material is buried by sediment and protected from decay due to oxygen and organisms. Ground water flows through the sediment and replaces the plant material with silica, calcite, and pyrite. The result is a fossil of the original woody material that displays details of wood, bark and cells.
Often petrified wood are such accurate perservations, people don’t realize they are fossils until they pick them up and find them to be very heavy. (1)
“Why should I care, Deb? What’s with the geology lesson?” you may be thinking.
There once was a group of devoted followers of the Teacher, who had just witnessed Him feed 5,000 men with only 5 loaves and 2 fish. Immediately following that, those same devotees were caught in a perilous wind storm at sea while they were in their boat. Peering over their port side they saw the Teacher walking on the water, in the midst of the wild winds. He got into their boat, while the winds and waves ceased. Their recorded response was “they were utterly astonished”. Mark 6: 30-51
But that is not all that is recorded about their response, here’s what the rest says:
for they did not understand about the loaves, their hearts were hardened.”Mark 6:52 ESV
but in fact their heart was hardened, being oblivious and indifferent to His amazing works.”Mark 6:52 The Amplified Bible
the Teacher feeding the 5,000
Here were devoted, Jesus followers whose hearts were hardened. Even though they had seen the miraculous on at least these two occasions, they were still oblivious and indifferent to Jesus’ deity and power. In fact, the word in the Greek for “hardened” is “poroo”, from “poros” – “a kind of stone; to petrify, ie (figurative) to render stupid or callous).” G4456 Strongs Concordance
Let me repeat that – in this account, Jesus’ disciples were oblivious to His power because their hearts were petrified. Their hearts had become calloused to His miraculous works. They were indifferent to the healings, demonic evictions, new births, feeding of 5,000 and stormy seas being calmed. Their hearts were hardened. Their hearts were petrified.
They had somehow allowed the seed of God to become buried by worldly sediment, cultural volcanic ash, and perverted debris. The life they once had, was replaced by hard and crystallized silica that presented a heart that looked vibrant, but indeed was heavy and pertified.
Their heart was a fossil. The seed of faith was stuck in that amber, egg muck of Jurassic Park. They were astonished at the Teacher’s abilities, yet unmoved, and oblivious to His deity and power.
I dare say, that is the condition of many hearts today. They are indifferent to what they have for years, seen and heard about Jesus. They are oblivious to the miracles that surround them every day. They see one astonishing event (a dead football player being revived by medicine and prayer for example), and yet don’t understand that same God is able to resurrect their own dead dreams, marriage, or hopes.
A hard heart begins as callous – a hard, thick area in our spiritual heart that has developed over time from friction or irritation. That callous, when fully developed will leave the heart less sensitive to touch. A callous heart feels little to no emotion and shows no sympathy for others.
The callous heart no longer listens for or hears God’s voice. The heart no longer desires God, the eyes no longer see His hand and the ears no longer hear His voice. Eyes but not seeing (Him) and ears but not hearing (Him). This is the picture of a hardened heart. This is a petrified, spiritual heart. Matthew 13:14-15
I made a list of things we are told that a hard heart does to us. You will find these phrases in these verses: Ephesians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 3:14; Matthew 19:8; Mark 3:5; John 12:40; Hebrews 3:13; Proverbs 28:14; Romans 2:5
- alienates us from God
- darkens our understanding
- cages us in ignorance
- opens us up to sensuality
- opens us up to greed
- opens us up to every kind of evil impurity
- keeps a veil on our understanding
- opens us up for divorce
- grieves God
- petrifies our faith, we can’t believe
- deceives us about sin
- gets us into trouble
- brings on us God’s wrath
It is with our heart that we believe. If that heart is hard, petrified and calloused, then belief, faith, trust, hope, happiness, and confidence in God and His abilities is impossible. The debris of the Chinie Formation has sealed that faith seed and sealed our fate as well. Without a drastic change, we become petrified rock. Stony, hard, and insensitive to God and His voice. A hard-hearted generation, indeed.
We need not look far to see people walking around who appear to be vibrant, passionate, and even colorful. But let’s not be fooled. They are fossils. Petrified, wooded soldiers insensitive to God, oblivious to His miracles, and indifferent to His will. The have hard hearts and their actions prove it.
Even though those followers of the Teacher found themselves petrified, unmoved, and oblivious to His divine power working right in front of them, it was temporary. Thank God! For within 2 years, they were the one’s who were said to have “turned the world upside down”.
A hard and petrified heart is fixable. The cost is repentance.
It is turning back to God and admitting that you have not been listening to His voice. It is admiting that you have not been looking for Him. It is talking to Him about it all. Being real with Him and expecting He will show up for you, forgive you and heal your hard heart, and begin the work of softening it back up.
The Petrified Forest wasn’t built in a day and neither will your soft heart be. But each day you respond to God’s voice, works and people, will be a day you live with a softer heart than the day before. Until finally you begin to feel again. To see again. To understand more. You will have a heart of flesh again and not a heart of stone. Ezekiel 36:26
The Pertified Forest in Arizona, USA
I have lived this. The disciples lived it. And so can you. Your heart can be transformed from a petrified rock, to soft, supple and faithful.
Let’s change the world with our soft hearts,
1. Geology.com/petrified rock