There is no point in my life when, if asked, I would have told you that I wasn’t a Christian. There have been points of greater and lesser obedience. There was a period of active rebellion but oddly enough, I still thought of myself as a Christian even as I purposed to do things my own way. I knew better, but I didn’t let myself think about it and pretended GOD wouldn’t really notice nor care. HA! As if I could really have any secrets from Him! But such are the delusions of rebellious youth. He has long since drawn me back to Himself in marvelous, awesome and wonderful ways that only He can design. He has broken what needed to be broken so change could happen and things get better. And they have. They most definitely have.
There is a particular relational pattern of my youth, though, that only ever brought confusion and heartache. Lately, I have been placed in some similar situations where I have to actively choose to go the way of historical precedent or let GOD show me a new way. My fear and insecurity says, “This way lies destruction, heartbreak. You know it. It’s always been this way. Why would this time be any different? It’s hopeless. Just give it up. Don’t even think you can ever really go there.” I’ve been wrestling with whether that is GOD warning me not to go down the same path or just the discouragement of the enemy trying to keep me from taking a new path through a similar situation.
Why IS this time any different than it ever was any other time in my life? Why SHOULD I expect different results? I got the answer at my Bible study last night. We are studying Psalm 23 and the teacher says “The presence of GOD changes everything.” ZING POW — right between the eyes! THAT’S why I can have hope for a better outcome this time!
When I was young, I would get into the situation and if I prayed it was more like calling on GOD desperately as a magic genie to give me the desires of my heart. I had it all figured out, He just needed to do X and voila – peace, bliss, happiness forever after. I acted like it I knew what GOD wanted (whether I actually asked His opinion or not) but it was up to me to make it happen and tell Him how to bring it about in the “right” way. The way that would give me everything I thought I wanted and make me “happy.” And predictably (now that I have gained the wisdom of age — ha ha), it NEVER ended well. Imagine that — I tried to “boss GOD,” the LORD of all creation and it didn’t work out so well. Go figure. Ha ha!
So why is this time any different? One, I recognized the parallels to my past almost immediately and put myself on guard as to the dangers — so at least I learned something in the last 30 years or so. I may have called myself a Christian back then, but I wasn’t really letting Him be LORD of my life. But more importantly, upon recognizing the parallel dangers, I invited GOD into this situation to handle it on His own. I am trying to follow HIS lead this time and not try to direct this production myself. I am praying for myself and other parties to be strengthened and led by HIS Wisdom, Strength and Grace in wherever He is leading. I am being honest with myself and GOD about what I want and the fact that I know I can’t do this alone but need Him to work in me and the others concerned to bring about His will, not mine. I am actively seeking to do HIS will and not my own agenda, no matter how much my flesh cries out for satisfaction. I know His presence is with me as I pursue a posture of surrendering the outcomes instead of trying futilely to make them conform to my agenda. I am actively pursuing actually not having an agenda of my own but just letting GOD’s play out in His own time, His own way spontaneously without forethought or pre-planning on my part. My life is HIS show.
The more I practice (because I am far from mastering these skills), the closer I come to His presence. He walks with me through every thought of every second of every day and holds me close. And THAT’S why I can expect different results. I don’t know exactly what those results will look like in real life. But I don’t have to fear that history will repeat itself and leave me sobbing and heartbroken again because, in His presence, all things are changed and made new!
Look at the nations and observe–be utterly astounded! For something is taking place in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.
I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you….Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will go with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
I am not ashamed, because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard that which He has entrusted to me until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12