“You’re His child. That hasn’t changed. When children make mistakes, parents hope they get it right the next time, but they don’t walk away. Parents want their kids to be the best they can be. That’s what God wants for you, you know.” (Nancy Mehl, The Gathering Shadows)
It’s easy sometimes to think because I don’t commit the “big” sins on a regular basis, I’m living a life that pleases God. If I really want to feel good about myself, I just need to turn on the TV, listen to the radio, or read a few magazines and someone will let me know I’m doing great…in fact, they might even help me justify my “little” sins as bad habits or little white lies.
However, I’ve shared in the past that approximately two years ago I began a conversation with God asking Him to change me. I know, I know – that’s a terrifying statement to speak to God (at least I’ve shaken in my boots when I’ve uttered those words in the past) but I sincerely meant it. I wanted Him to change me. Take all the bad parts, the not-so-good parts, and even the “halfway decent” parts and start transforming them into parts that please Him. I wasn’t going for perfection, in fact I really didn’t have an ending in mind, I just wanted Him to start taking the bad away and transform it into something that made Him happy.
I got my desire. God started working on me two years ago. At first it felt really hard. I wasn’t used to bending my spirit and will toward His completely and so it hurt. I could feel my conscious wrestling with what I knew God was asking of me and I didn’t like it. I became restless, irritable, and crabby. Not very fun to be around. However, I discovered that when I finally gave in, stopped wanting my way and instead said, “Okay, God, I will give you this part of my life too,” the peace that followed was palpable. No more guilt, no more hiding, no more shame in that area of my life.
So…I shouldn’t be surprised, having had two more years to grow deeper in my relationship, that God continues to fine tune areas of my life that I might think are okay…and shows me I can do better. I may not gossip, but what about the inner thoughts that play like a recording? My selfishness in one area may cause me to be selfish in another, denying someone else a blessing or just plain taking more than I need for myself.
God showed me that I will always have areas in my life that need to be improved if I am serious about wanting to be more and more like Christ. Unlike two years ago, when God whispers those thoughts on my heart or when He speaks very specifically about an area I’m being less than Christ-like in, I’m much quicker to change, to right the wrong, and to do things better going forward. Sometimes it’s a matter of asking forgiveness, sometimes it’s just a heart change, and other times it’s changing my behavior from here forward to be the best representation of Christ I can be.
Because ultimately, that’s what it boils down to. I want my life to be a reflection of the One I serve. When there are areas that need to be changed and I refuse to do the work, I’m setting a bad example for the One who matters most to me. When I finally meet my Father face-to-face, I want to stand boldly in front of Him and say, “I know I wasn’t perfect, but when you spoke, I listened and chose to obey.” Now that’s regular maintenance I get excited about.
© Cheri Swalwell 2014