“it’s time to change my life,” you say
and diligently strive to live
but then you wake up and realize
everything’s come as it always was
and life is dead as forever you long
to be different but remain always
How do we keep going in our efforts for change, making this New Year different from all the others?
If you want to be changed, you have to go beyond the revelation of what you want to be. You have to set your face like flint and go forward, focused and determined to be changed, different from who you were in all things, and changed into who you recognize you need to be. Real change is recognizing a new perspective, taking it around the corner with you, and not looking back.
But it isn’t sheer will power that keeps us going.
Two scriptures I find particularly helpful in encouraging me to persevere are:
Romans 12:2 and Philippians 3:12. The first is the theological basis under which faith in God gives us the right to expect transformation, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)
The second is the ‘how to’ mind set, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12 NKJV)
More than our efforts and more than scripture to help us, it is the Holy Spirit – God working in and through us – who draws us into living as the New Man that was born the moment we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. God’s Spirit leads us, guides, convicts, comforts and gets us to the finish line.
Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. Ultimately, change comes supernaturally, through our God-given faith along with our commitment to surrender, follow and persevere.
There are several things that can prevent us from continuing in our new walk.
1. One huge lie is in the short check list of things to do. The truth is that following a little list of errands means becoming distracted from your purpose and goal to live in the light of God’s wisdom and strategy for today. Moments lead to days and days lead to years. If you hope to fulfill the purposes of God, be wary of the little to do lists… they can become dictator. Your timing for the day is a huge part of following God’s will for your life. Surrender it, and wait to see what happens next!
2. Distraction. Whether it is technology, our children, or keeping order in our households, there are things that will always call upon our time and attention. Discernment as to what is God’s path comes with time spent with him in prayer and in the Word. While the internet offers huge opportunities to connect with a wide range of people, relationships take time to deepen. While our children need our help and support they also need to develop age-appropriate autonomy (see: http://sarahtunexaminelife.blogspot.ca/2015/01/living-in-free-fall-part-3-parenting.html ); sometimes what they seem to need from us will take us away from the path God wants for us and we need to say ‘yes, LORD,’ even if it means saying ‘no son/daughter.’ No paperwork or housework can’t wait; enough said on that aspect I think.
3. Habits. All habits die hard; some harder than others. Saying ‘no’ to a habit – whether good or bad – is a necessary part of permanent change.
4. Sugar! Once the initial energy boost wanes, sugary drinks and candy make us sluggish and drowsy, and also lead to poor concentration.
5. Hurry. The mental and spiritual process of transformation takes time. There’s no need to rush, and in fact, rushing can lead to mistakes that in turn tear down our confidence and faith. Allowance for our mind to grasp all the nooks and crevices of new revelation takes time, focus and attention. When feeling forced to rush, I try to do the opposite: I take time to read God’s Word and to hear God’s voice in my heart, to recalibrate my connection with Him.
6. Noise. There are all kinds of noises in life today. In particular, consider the ‘noise’ that clutters our minds; let’s instead reach for solitude, quiet, and stillness, where is the opportunity to deepen our thoughts, to reflect and even to journal. Listening to and familiarizing ourselves with our innermost questions, concerns, hopes and ambitions helps us.
7. Unbelief. Faith comes from God. It comes from hearing His Word. As you make time to study (2 Timothy 2:15), as you surround yourself with others of faith, as you ask for more of God’s gift of faith, He can build. For example, He may draw your mind to the miracles of the past which will encourage you to move forward into your future with hope and determination.
As you live in faith, knowing what Jesus has done on the cross and desiring to walk like him, there will be hindrances. But these enable us to strengthen our desire and our resolve. One day at a time we will be changed into his likeness. We will, by his grace and power, become what God has placed in us to be, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts’ (Zechariah 4:6).
Ready: Be determined to be changed and then surrender it to God.
Set: Be wary of distractions, be diligent and give God room to grow you.
Go: Know: “He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)