Giving Change a Chance

Change is a difficult challenge, and it’s my choice whether or not to embrace the changes that come into my path. The change necessary to manifest God’s will won’t be accomplished until I give God the chance to change me. Security, my need to control, and pride keep change from occurring in my life. Surrendering to the Holy Spirit starts a transformation that only God can accomplish through His Holy Spirit.

Security is linked to safety, and I cling to that which I know in a desperate attempt to remain safe. The irony is that my tendency to stick with the known threatens the very safety I am trying to protect. I remain content with the way things are and have always been. I convince others, and sometimes myself, that I know what I’m doing so I can avoid having to deal with changes that bring discomfort or uncertainty.

If I am to give God the chance to change me, I must be willing to step out of my comfort zone. Rearrangement, not change, occurs if I attempt to change on my own. Stepping into the unknown puts me in a prayerful state of mind and requires faith that God is who He says He is. That’s exactly where I need to be, but exactly where I don’t want to be. Like the Israelites, I complain and ask God why things cannot stay as they are.

God asks me to have faith and let go of my need to control. Admitting I need God is the first step. When I finally let go, God shows me how pleasant it is to have someone who knows the way lead me where I need to go. I would never step off a plane in a foreign country, signal for a taxi, and then tell the driver to move over, but I am guilty of doing just that when it comes to allowing God to have control.

Several years ago, I was in San Francisco on a business trip. It was during Chinese New Year, so my colleagues and I decided to go to China Town. I was separated from my group by a group of revelers dressed in a large red dragon costume. They were setting off firecrackers in front of each store to bring good luck to the store owners in the coming year. I began to panic as the fireworks got closer and my colleagues got further away. I was lost in a sea of foreign faces and filled with fear.

When faced with danger, I look for help. When in a ditch, I become very open to suggestions. The challenge of change is having the same attitude without the danger or the ditch. Successful people know the importance of change and are willing to take the risk involved. Like a child in the backseat, I bombard God with questions. When will I get there? How much longer? Where am I? I’m hungry! Can I have a drink? My father responded to those questions with the threat of pulling of the road. God’s patient love lets me wait until I am ready for the changes He has in mind for me. He pulls over for a very different reason.

God could easily take control, but that goes against the nature of His love. He loves me too much to force. Pride keeps me from giving God the chance to change me, but love bids me to relax and let Him has His way with me. When I listen to love, I am able to relax into obedience and allow change to bring the change God desires.

Psalm 51:10 is a plea from David that touches my heart in a special way. God cannot create a clean heart or renew a right spirit in me if I am not open to change.

Psalm51-10

The Potter

Clay

Muddy

Messy

Sinking

Trapping

Self

Lust

Love

God

Lifting

Transforming

Gracious

Beloved

Potter

Still, God, you are our Father.
 We’re the clay and you’re our potter:
 All of us are what you made us.”

Isaiah 64:17-18 (The Message)

Advent begins this week with a beautiful message of hope from Isaiah. The image of God, the Potter, is one that gives me great hope. My heart, on its own, is a muddy mess; but in the hands of my loving God, it becomes a vessel designed to hold and share His Son’s precious love. God never forces His transformation. He waits for me to relax in obedience and let His embrace create a new heart in me.

Psalm 51:10 goes perfectly with Isaiah’s beautiful image.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
 and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (NIV)

Isaiah 64

 

Warm Whirlpool

Muddy Feet

Living in the world means living in the mess. The mess gets muddy, and that is especially true when cold and wet join forces to form winter mud. The season is a difficult one for the body and the heart. The soothing image this morning was of a warm whirlpool washing the cold, caked mud off my body and my heart. Christ’s precious love is a warm whirlpool of living water. It’s always there when I find myself mired in the mud.

I stay stuck in the mud because I think I need to clean up before getting into His crystal clear love. God reminded me this morning that no amount of muck can muddy His living water. Christ’s love is designed to clean, clear, and cleanse as nothing else can. Many feel the way I do when it comes to entering those waters, but God doesn’t care if we ease in slowly, dive in gracefully, or do an awkward belly flop, just as long as we get in! Once in those healing waters, all that doesn’t belong in my heart or body is released and carried far away. Christ’s love absorbs the hurt, tension, and anxiety, allowing the release I need to move on.

Restoration can’t take place until release takes place. God’s lessons this week have been painful ones, but the sweet cleansing has been worth all the hurt. Releasing and restoring have been the themes this week. God reminded me that I wouldn’t build a new house on top of the ruins of an old one, but that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do. Razing comes when the clinging mud and debris is removed, and raising comes when Christ’s precious love soaks deeply into every fiber of my body. It’s an amazing feeling, far better than the best spa treatment the world has to offer.

Too often, I try to do what only Christ’s love can do.  That leaves me frustrated because the mess only gets worse as I try to clean it up on my own. Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” God already knows about my mess, and He is just waiting for me to put down my hose of cold water, slip into His warm whirlpool, and let Him do what He does best.

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