Change is a difficult challenge because it involves choice. Security and pride have kept me from embracing the change God desires for me. Surrendering starts the transformation, but getting to the place of surrender is the hard part.
Security is linked to safety, and I cling to what I know in a desperate attempt to remain safe and secure. The irony is that my tendency to stick with the known threatens the very safety I was try to protect. When I settle, I lose sight of change. I’m afraid I’m guilty of doing that far too often.
To give God the chance to change me, I must first be willing to step out of my comfort zone. Rearrangement, not change, occurs when I refuse to make that move. Stepping into the unknown puts me in a prayerful state of mind and requires faith in God and a willingness to admit that I am not Him. That is exactly where I need to be, but as in so much of life, it’s that first step that keeps me from growing and changing as God desires.
Moving away from the comfort of what I know is very difficult, even when I know is wrong and is hurting me. I stay in a bad situation simply because I worry that I may end up in a worse one if I attempt to change. More often, I am simply afraid to admit that I am wrong. Do I think Christ whined to God when He left heaven to be my change? Can I imagine Christ wondering why I couldn’t just follow the law set down before me. Did he think it unfair because He had done nothing wrong and didn’t deserve to die for me? Would He have asked God to think of an easier way? I cannot imagine any of those scenarios. Christ knows better than I the difficulty of stepping out of a comfort zone. He left the beauty and security of God’s presence to make possible the single most powerful change ever. All the advancements made by man pale in comparison to the change that occurred when Christ returned to Heaven.
If Tim Cook came along and offered me a great deal on a new Mac or Donald Trump had insider information about a real estate deal, I would be all ears and willing to do whatever they suggested. Christ offers change that ensures more security than I can imagine, but I think it sounds too good to be true. Besides, I don’t deserve it. I am right on both counts, and that’s what makes His change so amazing.
God asks me to surrender and trust Him. I have to let go of what I know in order to do that. Giving up control requires faith. I would rather go in circles for decades than admit to God that I need His help. I find legitimate excuses for not changing, but God answers each with His patient love and His fervent desire for me to love Him.
When I stop struggling and surrender, God is faithful to lift my burden and lighten my spirit. What a beautiful release it is to let go and trust Him with my transformation. I would never step off a plane in Hong Kong, signal a taxi, and tell the driver to move over and let me drive. That would be ridiculous, but I do worse each time I set out on my own and leave God on the passenger side.
Several years ago, I was in San Francisco and went to Chinatown. It was Chinese New Year, and I got caught up in a group of revelers dressed in a large red dragon costume. They were setting off firecrackers in front of each store so the owners would have good luck in the coming year. I began to panic as the firecrackers got closer and the dragon cut me off from my friends. I lost sight of my colleagues in a sea of foreign faces and began to panic. When faced with danger or lost, I cry out for help. When in a ditch, I am much more open to help or advice. The challenge of change is to have that attitude before I become lost or in a ditch. Successful people know the importance of change, but Christ asks for surrender, something successful people do not find as comfortable. Pride must go before a change, and that’s the problem.
Like a child in the backseat, I bombard God with questions as I surrender. When will I get there? How much longer before I can stop? Do you know where I am? Am I there yet? I’m hungry! I’m lonely! I’ve done a great deal of backseat driving during my life and am amazed God hasn’t pulled over and thrown me out. The good news is that He has infinite patience and will wait for me to accept the changes He has in mind. The incredible thing about God is that He could very easily take control, but He loves me too much to do that. If I think of the second ‘c’ in chance as my need to control and change that ‘c’ to a ‘g’ which represents God, then I’ll find that giving up control is not as hard as I thought. When I take a chance, God will make a change.
Pride keeps me from giving God the chance to change me. The Israelites were moaning and groaning about how good things used to be and worrying about their problems. Boy, does that sound familiar. Memory is an odd thing, and studies tell me that I have selective memory when it comes to my past. What I remember is very often not the way it actually happened. If I am looking for excuses, I remember the bad and blame others. If I fear change, I remember the good and leave well enough alone. Pride hides itself in words like tradition and esteem if I am not careful, and fear forces me to forget my faith in God.
Six years ago, one of my third grade Sunday School students taught an important lesson. We were studying God’s power to protect, and they were making little shields to demonstrate that God can protect us from everything. I ended the lesson with a question that would allow the students to recount what they had learned. I asked, “Is there anything that God cannot protect us from?” I knew the answer to that question and waited for them to respond. I looked at the sweet faces sitting around the table and waited for the long, enthusiastic “NOOOOO!!!” I knew was coming.
When Salina’s serious little yes came unexpectedly from my left, I did what any master teacher would do in that situation. I asked her to explain so I could quickly reassure her that God could protect her from whatever it was that concerned her. She very quietly and seriously said that God would not protect us from saying no to Him. You could hear a pin drop in the room as the students and I pondered her response. All eyes were focused on me at that moment, and I did what a teacher who is willing to learn from her students but wanted to save face would do, I pretended her answer was just the one I was looking for:) I said, “EXACTLY!”
My need for security, my inability to give up control, and my pride will cause me to say no to God, and He will allow me to do just that. Whatever my reasons and however right they may seem to me at the time, I can choose to say no to God. Transformation will only occur if I choose to give God the chance to make me who He created me to be. I am so thankful He reminded me of that six years ago and more thankful He is still willing to remind me of that today. Lessons learned have to be revisited because change is ongoing, and I am learning that relearning is a big part of giving God the chance to change me:)