Thursday, August 17, 2017

An Unexpected Discipline - Change

On some level, those in pursuit of Christ's ways say they want to change, but deep change is surely a process that we don't always understand or even pursue with the right cadence.  

Spiritual disciplines are those exercises we put ourselves through so as to engage in the change we think we need by strengthening of our faith-walk. While there are standard, time-tested practices of spiritual discipline that many have embraced, too often these are limited because of one major problem: they are people-initiated.  Such efforts can be weak or self-aggrandizing and cannot accomplish in our lives all that God intends for us.  We unintentionally hold ourselves back not always aware that God wants more for us than we want for ourselves.

I challenge you to consider, embrace and be grateful for the disciplines that God initiates.  His disciplines are more effective and more directed at what we need, instead of what is comfortable. When change is what God is doing, then His glory gets exposed in us instead of our own.

Of course, God's spiritual disciplines are not always pleasant because they are unexpected and hidden within false expectations and a false sense of righteousness which we often hold. This is true even in our expectations about God, because it can require us to let go of our false images of a "Santa" God or "Genie" Jesus.  Such disciplines are unpredictable, painful and challenging - even severe.  Yet, they serve God's greater purposes in our lives to bring about godly character in us.

Remember that God will not be rushed.  He is known for his perfect timing and it takes time to ready all elements. Without a willingness to wait, we will be regularly frustrated with God and ourselves and become disillusioned when faced with change.  We serve a God whose calendar moves by millenia, not minutes, and who thinks in terms of generations, not seasons (or days).

This means that the present circumstances may not make sense to us, although they do to God.  Waiting for the change we want can be debilitating unless it is marked by hope in God.  It is often not until the present becomes the past that we begin to understand and only waiting can supply us with the passage of time.  For disciplined believers, it is patient, confident and active trust that God still holds power, knows what He is doing and is working things out towards good for those who love Him.

Mature Christians can engage in God's change by doing the following:

  • Hold onto Biblical truths.
  • Stay reminded of God's victories in the past.
  • Keep a firm anticipation of receiving God's promises.
  • Stay alert to signs of change to nurture and join with God.
  • Stay ready for opportunity.
  • Take comfort from God in the waiting or the change.
  • Foster a spirit of obedience.
  • Let waiting restore and refresh for the energy needed in upcoming change.

When it comes to the change we need most, God knows best. In God's timing, we can begin to see waiting as the portal for hope.  Don't push ahead or divert your eyes. Stay close to His efforts!

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