THE ABIDING LIFE
An Invitation to Trust
By Gwen Sellers
Change generally involves stress. Even good and desired changes bring with them a certain amount of emotional disruption. Think newlyweds, new parents, new employees, the first day of a new school year. Married couples who planned not to have children who find out she is pregnant. Couples who always planned for children yet struggle with infertility. A doctor forced to retire early. A career worker laid off two years before planned retirement. College students changing majors. A job change that requires relocation. An injury that sidelines an athlete. A new pastor who brings a new vision to a decades old church. Granted, there are some people who seem to thrive on change. But for the most part, change, at the very least, requires an increased energy output. The status quo has been disrupted and we have to learn a new normal.
Most of us know this, and we expect it. But what I did not expect from a recent change in my life was just how much it would rock my sense of self and peel back yet another layer of my true heart condition. I have come to learn that change, at least for me, is rarely about the "issue" (the new job, the new location, the new vision, etc.). Usually, it is about how much I trust God. Am I in control of my life, or is He? Am I basing my sense of security on my plans, or in Him?
Despite my intellectual and experiential knowledge of God's goodness and trustworthiness, when I am presented with change, I often fear that misery lies ahead. I am like a child afraid to have the training wheels removed from my bicycle. I see only the possibility of falling to the ground, not the newfound freedom and thrill of riding free with the wind at my back. Though perhaps my reaction is understandable, or at least others can relate, it is unfounded. God allows nothing into my life that He will not redeem for His good purposes (Romans 8:28). I know He promises to be with me through any and every hardship (Romans 8:31-39; John 14:25-27; Matthew 28:20). Experientially, God has never failed me. Yes, there have been difficult circumstances in my life, things I would rather never live through again. But God was faithful in the midst and has used those things for my good. So why do I still shy away from change?
To put it simply, God's work of sanctification in me is not done yet. Second Corinthians 3:17-18 says, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." The apostle Paul also wrote, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). There are so many ways in which I love these verses. God does not give up or ever say that my transformation is passable so it's good enough. He will not stop short of completion (also known as "perfection").
Admittedly, there are also ways in which I don't like these verses. God's work of transformation is continual; I won't be complete until "the day of Jesus Christ." There will always be room for improvement, and God will always be challenging me to grow in Him. Sometimes I think I would prefer to stop short of completion, if only because, from the deceitfulness of my sinful human heart, I anticipate it will be less stressful. In a recent small group discussion I was reminded of C.S. Lewis's famous quote from The Weight of Glory:
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.Like the child afraid to take off the training wheels, desperately trying to convince her father she really would rather ride with them on for the rest of her life, I can try to convince God that I really would be content to stay the way I am. Mud pies really are enough, please don't force me to enjoy a holiday at the sea. How silly! Transformation, to the point of completion, is the best offer; and it is my heart's true desire.
Here's what I love about the whole process: God knows my tendencies and He is faithful. Psalm 103:13-14 says, "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." Even when I am slow to take God's hand and ask Him to have His way in me and walk me forward, He looks on me with love. He does not force, but gently calls me to more. He continually invites me into deeper trust. He knows what is for my best, and He offers it to me. Jesus told His disciples, "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39; see Matthew 10:34-39 and Luke 9:23-24). Life in Him is abundant (John 10:10). It is in abiding in Him that joy is made complete (John 15). When I surrender my own sense of control and choose to trust God, I find life. When I lean on Him in the midst of change, rather than resist the change, I am secure.
What I want to more readily realize is that God doesn't take off the training wheels so that I'll fall; He does it so that I can ride free. He is not removing mud pies to make me miserable; He is inviting me to a holiday at the sea. How much greater are His plans for me than my plans for myself? How much more fulfilling are His desires for me than my desires for myself? How much more secure am I when adventuring with Him than when trying to hold on to my own ways? How much more life is available if I will simply surrender and trust?
First Corinthians 13:9-12 says:
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.It is in God I trust. I may not know where He is leading or what will accompany the changes in my life. But I know He is working to transform my heart. I know He is good. I know He is for me. I know He is worthy of honor and obedience. So I will choose to trust, and maybe even allow myself to ride free and be excited about a holiday at the sea. Will you join me in your own trust adventure with God?
Image Credit: Pezibear; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Hardships | Personal-Life
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