I Am Transforming

Things I did this week that the old me would not have done:

 

  1. I asked my Father to pray daily for my (future) husband
  2. I spoke to my Mother about wanting her wisdom (with a preference towards loving delivery) and that I would not respond the way I used to in the past
  3. I am taking steps of faith that only other people of faith seem to understand; and their support in the courage this requires of me is invaluable
     I could list a lot of the ways I have failed in the past few weeks too. I’ve really been beating myself up internally over it but I’ve moved through that space now. I was reminded, through the Bible, I am transforming. I am being changed. There are people who will not see it, or will not understand it, or will not like it. But this is the work of God.
     While the Spirit is something I received, I also have to choose to hear the Spirit and respond to it again and again. I have to change what was a lifetime of bad habits and sixteen years of denying God and replacing that guidance, that Kingship, with other things. Things like the American Dream, money, vacations, retirement, bitterness, anger, resentment, entitlement, recognition, etc. All these things I have to give up. Sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice when in return for offering all this up, I receive my God as my King? A Father who sacrifices for me?
     In I Corinthians 6:15-18 it says, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take Christ’s members and make them the members of a prostitute? Of course not! [Or] do you not know that anyone who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For “the two,” it says, “will become one flesh.” But whoever is joined with the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Avoid immorality.”
     What does this say to me? Of course I could not fathom doing anything to damage the body of Christ and yet what do I do to myself? How do I treat others? I am a member of the body of Christ, and Christ a member of my body. So I should treat myself as I would treat the body of Christ and aspire to treat all those around me similarly. Which is why I pray a lot.
     I give thanks to God, always. I praise God. I pray for the people in my life. But then I pray for God to transform me even more. To make me over more into the image of my Maker. When I first started praying I wondered if my prayers were selfish but now I understand that the majority of my prayers focus on how I treat others. On how I impact the Kingdom. So I don’t think it a very selfish prayer after all. I want to see people the way God sees people and love them the way God loves them.
     I also repent. A lot. But this isn’t the self-loathing repentance you hear about or anything like that. I’m taking where I know I fell short to God and asking God to work with me in that area. And saying I’m definitely going to work on it too. I have a lifetime of transforming ahead of me.
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God Asks for Obedience

1 John 2:3 “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”

God expects obedience in His followers. In fact we see in the Bible that to show our love to God is to obey Him and keep His commandments. This is not how we “earn” our way to heaven. We cannot do that because we all fall short and any sin is too much sin in the presence of a perfect God. The sin of gossip is just as heavy as cheating or any other biblical sin; we in America like to try to rate sin and say these are okay and these aren’t. The truth is we are all guilty and they are all bad and cause us all to fall short. Jesus and repentance closed that gap for us.

Mark 1:15  “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

We repent, believe, obey, and continue in this cycle to try to keep his commandments because it is our way of showing God we love Him and want to abide in Him. It is showing we acknowledge His place and ours.

Romans 6:4 “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Baptism is the action being born again (which I’ll write about at some other point but John 3 is a great resource); of dying to ourselves. We commit ourselves to our belief, receive the Spirit and begin to be transformed. The more we “die” to ourselves and dedicate ourselves to God, the more joy and freedom we discover.

Proverbs 3:6 “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

My path has been clearer, my heart lighter, my life more joyful and my struggle less the more I submit to God. Is it easy? NO. I feel constantly challenged but I also have a faith that provides this indescribable buoyancy in moments that would have once sunk me. Times like friends being diagnosed with serious diseases, deaths in the family, my imminent job loss in the next couple years when I realized God didn’t want me to move for money, or even ending an almost eight year relationship knowing I’d never get to see his kids again. My heart broke and I pray often for him and his children. But we all had to make hard choices.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

No, of course it isn’t easy. But this journey was definitely worth it. I lost some close relationships in the beginning (drinking buddies, anti-Christians, etc.) because I stopped doing what made me “feel good” in the moment and started trying to act in obedience to God and the Scripture while continuing to try to be authentic about who I was and what I was struggling with at the time. Later I realized that as a Christian I needed to spread what I was so grateful to have received, the Gospel, to others with grace and love to my community through compassionate ministry. I’ve downsized, I’ve pursued educational opportunities not just in books but in service (words and action).

I fail over and over again every day but I am not disheartened or ashamed or saddened.  I know where I come from and I know in what ways I have been and continue to be restored. I see where my growth in obedience is and I know that this, along with my prayers, is how I let God know I am moving towards Him.