Have you ever gone through a season, challenging or joyful, and realized at the end of it that it was what you had prayed for?
Or asked God to change something about you and He does it in a way you weren’t expecting?
If yes to either of those questions, I can relate to you. Big time.
A consistent prayer of mine for last few years has been ‘Lord, change me.’
I read Evelyn Christianson’s book of the same title and was deeply convicted about how I prayerfully approach and handle situations. The different between spending great amounts of praying energy asking God to change someone else’s behavior or tendencies and looking inward is vast.
I grew in this way of praying (after lots of time and practicing) and I’m grateful for it. It’s actually been a beautifier of inner chaos instead of adding to the mess.
For example, when it comes to my sister, I used to wrestle with God over how she wasn’t super talkative with me, wouldn’t open up a lot, but it became a burden that was tiring, and hurting our friendship. Thanks to Holy Spirit I then began to pray, Okay, God, change me. Change my perspective, to see her through Your eyes, how You wired her. Change the way I put unnecessary pressure on our relationship. Change me, help me trust that You are working in our midst.
And I found it was a little easier to trust Him with the situation as a whole because I could see progress in me, believing He had good plans for our future friendship. Now we’re in a great place and it is a gift from Him. All grace upon grace.
But, that’s not really what this post is about.
This post is about how I feel myself at the edge of a valley I just came through, and looking back over it I think, “Why was I anxious about God being disappointed in me because I wasn’t getting it? I prayed for this!”
While in the midst of this valley, this place of change, this feeling of not-myself-ness, I let myself believe the lie that God was frustrated with and far away from me.
In this post written last week, I wrote that this season is a changing of a 25-year-old mindset.
Somehow I began to believe that because my faith didn’t feel super strong — because I was learning and changing — something was wrong about me.
I sought Him, read His words, sang my way out of bummer moods, but still felt the gap between us and fought to close it.
In reality, the opposite was happening.
What I now know is that ‘gap’ was my false belief that God’s love, presence, support, and helping Spirit for me hinges on my spiritual height or strength. Not true (thank you, Jesus!).
We are saved, sanctified, and sustained by what Jesus did for us on the cross and through the power of his resurrection. If you add to or subtract from the cross, even if it is to factor in biblically mandated religious practices like prayer and evangelism, you rob God of his glory and Christ of his sufficiency. Matt Chandler
After much exhaustive running in circles, bearing weights I wasn’t meant to carry, seeing my upbringing with fresh eyes, and basically breaking down in ‘Father God, I can’t live like this anymore,’ He began to enlighten me to beliefs about myself and about Him that aren’t true. Nothing major to the average person, but major to me.
It felt as though He was crumbling my old way of thinking and believing, while slowly rebuilding a new one. Pointing me constantly to Jesus, to the truth of the gospel. It was beautiful. And heartbreaking. And freeing.
But this changing left me feeling a little ashamed. Ashamed it had “taken me this long to realize” (which is bogus, we’re all on paths of progress, right?) and ashamed to have lived in a belief for so long when freedom was so close. Lies from Satan, though.
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. Psalm 34:4-5
My mother-in-law says this often, “To grow is to change, and to become perfect is to have changed often.” We all deeply long to be closer to God, to be more like Jesus, to bear the fruit of His Spirit in our lives. This means change, because what we fight against every second of every day is our sinful nature, our natural selves who don’t naturally choose God’s way or His Truth.
Change is one of the best things, a great gift! When we move closer and closer to God in our changing, I believe He smiles big with arms open wide, ready to help with each step.
Sinclair Ferguson said this, “When I know that Christ is the one real sacrifice for my sins, that His work on my behalf has been accepted by God, that He is my heavenly Intercessor – then His blood is the antidote to the poison in the voices that echo in my conscience, condemning me for my many failures. Indeed, Christ’s shed blood chokes them into silence!”
Amen and amen.