"Wherefore my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of day, harden not your hearts."
There are several things here to take note of, but the one that stood out to me today is "full purpose of heart." I wonder how often we do anything at all with that much focus and dedication. Seems like we're often distracted, or trying to multi-task... with work, with friends... even with the people closest to us. And, I would submit, very very often, we do it with God. Start to pray, and then find ourselves thinking of what we have to do at work that morning, or the errand we have to run, or what are we going to eat, or whatever it is. And those are just the small examples. The big ones... how often do we commit ourselves to living the gospel, but withhold part of ourselves... a favorite habit, a tiny rebellious idea about one part of the gospel. We know we need to change, but we'll do that part last... :) Like C.S. Lewis' quote about if we accept heaven, we can't keep even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell... but more than that.
I think I've thought about it as an internal war in the past, or about cutting out the part of myself that wants something bad... but I'm not sure that it works that way either. The truth is that if we kill half of ourselves in a war or cut off the bad bits, then we are just bleeding half people, even less able to serve God. What it comes down to at some point is harder than just cutting. We have to convince that "bad" side of ourselves that the good side is right. That the souvenirs of hell, or the last rebellious vestiges of thought, or that last bad habit that we love so much... we have to learn with our entire souls that they just don't matter compared to what we can have with God... we have to commit to him completely... nothing held back... cleave to God as though it meant everything... because it does. The results we want can never come from partial dedication or part-time faith. We have to realize that we are nothing without God... that we can't do anything or accomplish anything without him... and not in a resentful way. Just in a kid-going-to-the-emergency-room way. We need God to save us. We can't possibly, ever do any of it alone, and really... why would we want to? Trying to keep a wound or a favorite piece of glass from the car accident is silly.
Today, while his arm of mercy is extended to us, let's try to not harden our hearts. Let's try to understand how desperately we need God to save us, and commit to him and submit to his help with everything we have and are.