I was twenty-four when my knees bent to Jesus. Bringing a boatload of baggage into my born-again life. Married six years with two littles, I had a heap of bad behavior to reorganize. Cigarettes and swearing had to go. Movies, TV shows, music—all required revamping. Bible reading and morning prayer needed implanting. I had a family to save. A world to change.
Circling our first attempt at nightly devotions, my twelve-year-old complained, “I have homework.” Years of disinterest from the family made me sad, until it made me mad. If I can’t get my own family to faith—what does that say about me? I was working hard to gain control and stay in God’s good graces. Too bossy and busy to stop and still and learn how love was given, not demanded. Peace was a Person, not a campaign. I found myself slipping back into a life I was once elated to leave behind.
I read about the unbelievable Jesus. How he flipped the world, and everyone followed. How he restored and fed and raised the dead. Why were their sicknesses lifted while my shame stayed the same?
Each time I couldn’t stand myself one more minute, I ran to my room, went to the floor, and begged God to fix me. Why can’t I be good? Still gossiping with others, still drinking down sorrows. How do you live in this crooked world, obey God, and not lose your mind?
I cannot change my mind. I tried. I cannot love someone I cannot stand. I cannot tame a tongue full of poison. I cannot freely give without fully receiving. I can minister like a missionary, never miss a fundraiser, memorize every word of scripture—but overcoming underlying evil with overriding good is Holy Spirit power.
“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Here, losing my mind, takes on brand new meaning. Doesn’t it? Jesus died for my sins—the messy, mortal mind ruining my life. Loving my life means losing my right to think for myself. Taking my thoughts captive to the God who never stops thinking of me. A wise counselor once asked, “Do we possess anything more personal and precious to God than our thoughts?”
Adversities (even the one we’re all facing today) can seem like demerits against us, but in Christ we know it’s an invitation for us. An occasion to trust His love and meet His power. “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Patience—not the kind that grits teeth and smiles thinly, the supernatural kind that kept Christ on the road to Calvary, carried the cross for his enemies, cried forgiveness when all abandoned him. The kind that transforms within, works to perfection, ushering us toward completion—where we will lack nothing!
JESUS ISN’T SO INTERESTED IN RESTARTING A HEART AS HE IS RESURRECTING ONE
My three-year-old grandson shows how I resist the Lord’s lovingkindness. Sitting him on the counter, holding the spatula together, we mix granola. “I can do it, Grandma,” he insists. Tugging away the wooden handle, he slides the bowl away from me. Dropping the spatula, he reaches in with both hands like a potter working the clay. Ingredients spray like confetti on New Year’s Day. Attempting to steer the mess, he fights for total control. Oblivious to our loss or any edible outcome, his only interest is generating instant gratification. I am barging in on all his glory.
When the Lord scoops us up, placing us on higher ground, we can forget Him when eyeing the goods. Forget the God who made everything out of nothing. In a rush to reach our own goals, we miss the urgency of the Holy Spirit’s capacity—responsibility to Father our ways. Like a toddler who cannot control swinging fists without the brave hands of a loving mother, we require the Architect of our design, who meticulously mixed the colors of our awakening, to finish the canvas of our faith.
Jesus isn’t so interested in restarting a heart as He is resurrecting one. Reaching out His righteous hand, He touches unrighteous anger, envy, and strife. Jesus touches hatred, and love comes to life. Erasing fear, He writes in faith. Pulling out discord and putting peace in place. Arming the anxious, He fights our battles. Holding our tears, He carries our sorrows. Burdens we cannot bear to see are but feathers to the One who bore the sins of the world.
World changing was never God’s goal. The carpenter’s Son is in the Kingdom building business. Before Jesus went to the cross keys were given to His disciples. Jesus was unlocking the gates of heaven with the gospel of grace—not opening opportunities to make the world a better place.
Our hearts hunt secretly for penetrating, permanent change. But apart from the Holy Spirit water could not be made wine, works will never buy grace, and sinners can’t make themselves saints.
Father, prepare us to meet You face to face. With wisdom and understanding guide our ways. Cut, pierce, and prune our will. Feed, quench—our spirits fill. Receiving with meekness, the word deposited—transform, renew, and sanctify our oppositeness.