Change is hard. Change is necessary. Change is good.
And I do NOT want to change. Not really.
Well, …maybe a little.
In recent months I have come face to face with my real desire to change. Unhealthy patterns, undesirable habits, unrealistic ways of thinking, unnecessary actions; do I really want to get beyond them and re-form my life?
Of course I do…and so do you. At least intellectually we do. Trust me, my intentions are good. (What is it they say about good intentions? That “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” and “God save us from people who mean well!”).
Here’s the truth sometimes – maybe too often – about me. I intend to change. I think about intending to change. And I even sometimes consider thinking about intending to change.
But of course that does not bring about change.
I have a decision to make and some actions to take. A woman shared this morning in a meeting I attended that “nothing changes if nothing changes.” This is not just some simplistic slogan or positive-thinking hype. It is just a plain, simple observation about the spiritual life and about any organization or organism on the planet.
To be sure, there are those who think God does all the work for us. I believe this is a theology driven by fear, not truth, an abdication of our God-given responsibility. If we screw up, then we can blame God, say He caused it, or make some theological excuse for our inaction (“must be His will I do not have a job” even though I do not look for one.) How sad it would be if God caused everything. (FYI: I believe God is so powerful that He can control everything without causing everything).
Why create a community of people for the sole purpose of manipulating and causing their every thought, word and action? If that is true there is really no need for change. We are simply floating adrift on the sea of predetermination. Let’s just pull in the oars, take down the sails, let go of the rudder and take a nap, arriving wherever, whenever. Whatever!
What a waste of Divine energy and power…coercing the actions and activities of 7 billion people 24/7. This cannot possibly be a joyful use of the Creator’s power. (Ever notice how much work it talks to try to control just one person so they do what you want? Imagine manipulating a whole planet!)
If God is simply the Great Manipulator instead of the Glorious Creator then there is no need for His help or our prayers. No need for the power of His Spirit, no need for the guidance of His Word or the sacrificial life of His Son. All that remains is a dark fatalism, and unending circle of boredom and depression, and the ultimate realization that we do nothing and are nothing (or as one ill-trained pastor has said, “We are all just worms.” WOW… THAT’s a day-maker!!).
But if I really believe I can change, that God has given me the power to change, then anything really is possible – even my growth! I can affirm that I really place my trust in Him (and—here’s a scary thought – that He trusts what He is doing in me!), that my decisions and actions to cooperate with His will and purposes make a difference, that when I obey the scriptures to “make every effort” to live in the truth, I can grow!
When I admit the truth about myself, about God and about the world, then there is HOPE! As I walk with Him as Father, Friend, Leader, Lover, Forgiver, Healer, Victor, and Teacher, I enter a new, ultimate reality! I discover there is meaning and activity and purpose and joy and work and reward and celebration and love and …LIFE !!
“I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” – Jesus of Nazareth, The Message, John 10:10
And so I persevere, not because I can bring change on my own but because my God is with me. He is before me to guide me and behind me to urge me on, beneath me to carry me and above me to protect me, beside me to walk with me and inside me to empower me. And He beckons me to act!
So today I will act – I will pray, I will listen and I will step out in faith and with courage (even if only taking the tiniest of steps), and I will find He is there, He is already at work, and I am growing.
I can change. And I want to. Really.