Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sweeping Change


How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Galations 3:3 NLT

It’s that time of the year when I resolve to make sweeping changes in my life. I promise myself I’ll lose thirty pounds, pray twice as much, walk twice as much, talk half as much, and never be cross with my children again. Predictably, the sweeping changes last for about two days, and I’m right back where I started. Only I feel worse after yet another failed attempt at increased self-control.

Maybe you’ve been there, too. We’re finally going to quit (insert bad habit here), and definitely going to start (insert desirable habit here). Our resolve is firm, our intentions noble. So why do we fail? How do we miss it? Is it possible we’re trying to change our lives in our own strength, leaving God out of the process? I think that’s exactly where we go wrong.

I received Christ at age 28, after a life of…well….worldly living. It would be an understatement to say that God radically changed my life. We see in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that we become “new creatures” in Him, and that’s what happened to me. But the transformation didn’t happen because I had such great will power to make those sweeping changes in my life. Change happened because I surrendered my life to God and begged Him to change me. The closer I walked with Him, the more bad habits and old temptations began to “fall off” my life, like dead leaves from a healthy branch. So, what makes me think that what God started in me by His Spirit, I can now finish in my own strength?

Are you discouraged by your lack of resolve? Do all your efforts to “follow the rules” more closely end in disappointment? Do you long to live a life that is more like Christ, but find you’re unable to make it happen? God never intended for us to live this new life on me-power. Maybe it’s time you once again cry out to God and beg Him to change you. I know it’s time for me.

What would 2009 look like if we started by asking God to change us? He might begin by showing us little changes to make. Sweeping change begins with small change. In the same way that small adjustments to a budget make a large impact over time, small adjustments in our days make far-reaching transformation in our year. A little time spent reading the Bible, repeated 365 times becomes a daily devotional life. Ten minutes with God every morning becomes a prayer life. A thirty minute daily walk becomes increased health and fitness. Dinner every night with the family becomes connection with our teens. Are you ready? Let's remember that He is the only One who brings real and lasting change to our lives.

Prayer for Today: Lord, forgive me for my weak attempts to finish in my own strength what You began by Your Spirit. I invite you to examine my heart, and change the things in me that do not bring You glory. I bring my willingness, and wait for Your power. In Jesus Name, Amen.

7 comments:

Lisa Marie said...

This is the very topic that has been uppermost in my mind lately. All the things I want to do and can't seem to accomplish...like just spending more time with Him. My biggest thing is that I fall into patterns. I do the same thing every time simply because it's what I've been doing, instead of REALLY seeking God's face and finding out what He has for me. It's like I constantly get stuck in a rut.

Thanks for the reminder that it's not by my strength, but His, that I'm changed and renewed!

Leslie Oden said...

I'm familiar with that rut! I usually write about topics I'm wrestling with, and this is no exception. Thanks for sharing! :o)

Susan said...

I thank you for this post. I have been trying to keep on track with my daily bible reading, prayer time, family & friend time. I then need to find "ME" time. I just need to let go and let God do the leading for my life. That is when I will start to see my goals met for 2009.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting post. This year I had decided to not make any resolutions. That in itself is a new thing for me. But rather I have just asked God to mold me into what he wants for me. Sounds easy right? I get to sit back and let God mold me instead of hitting the gym or anything else......well I am here to tell you, this is the hardest challenge yet! Its a resolution all on its own! Because now I have to get out of the way and let God do the molding. That implies listening to the Holy Spirit and then acting on what is being communicated to me. Hahaha, had I been doing this all along, I probably would have missed out on some of the interesting situations I have put myself into! So there it is, my non-resolution to be putty in His hands, I am guessing I am the REALLY hard, dry and crumbly putty, but I am still willing to be putty! Thanks Leslie -Kelly

Leslie Oden said...

Great thoughts, thanks Kelly! I think I'm the whining, hand-on-hip, foot-stomping kind of putty...willing, but noisy. :o)

Jerry, Lauren, Kaylee, and one more! said...

Leslie,
This is awesome! Dealing with all the pregnant hormones my heart is always wanting the simple family things. Your prayers are for your baby to be healthy so all the other "stuff" just fades during pregnancy. (or at least this has been my take on it both times) It gets me in the word more and thanking Jesus for my blessed little family. But I have also been thinking and have really been making a conscienous effort to spend more time in the word and journaling. Now that I am home everyday I worship with the children but am trying to find a good morning routine. This just confirms what has been on my heart! Lauren

Leslie Oden said...

Thanks Lauren! We're so excited your little family is growing :o) I've talked to so many women who say that God is prompting them to get serious about having a daily quiet time. Time with Him in the Word and prayer always yields peace and strength. Blessings, Leslie