Today’s post appeared Sunday on Lean into Jesus Ministries’ website. It’s always an honor to write for them. If you are not familiar with this ministry, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to visit their website at www.leanintojesus.com. Since their annual conference, usually held this month, had to be postponed due to the pandemic, we look forward to it later in the year. As soon as a new date is announced, look for registration details here on Perfection Road.
It’s a Process!
Whether we like it or not, change relentlessly erupts from growth.
We built our house 26 years ago. Its cozy little kitchen worked well for us as my two kids scampered from one sport to another, clutching a chicken finger in one hand and a fistful of fries in the other. Though quite small, the kitchen won the prize for being the hub of our house. It still is. However, this coming Spring, our daughter’s family will gain another little fella. That will give us six grandchildren, swelling our original family of four to a size 12!
Since our tribe enjoys lingering in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning involved some tactical maneuvering. Ron and I relish in the lingering, so we became highly motivated to create a more efficient and relaxed environment. It soon became obvious that everything had to go – and I mean EVERYTHING. To do it right, we needed to tear out the old cabinets and appliances and start from scratch. Walls came down to open the kitchen up to the living room. We even redesigned the floorplan and included a makeover for the laundry room. (Chip and Joanna would be so proud.)
I’d like to say that we are completely finished and everything turned out beautifully. Truth is, we are in the middle of the process. Everything is out of place. Finding those things we once reached for automatically has become a game of hide and seek. We live in chaos. However, we know what’s coming. We’ve seen the plan, and we look forward to having a place for everything and everything in its place. We trust that when our family returns to linger in the wide-open spaces, we will fully appreciate this overwhelming remodeling process.
Sooner or later, many of us Christians develop the desire to let go of old hurts and habits so we can embrace a real relationship with Jesus. This motivates us to remodel our hearts. It takes great courage and determination to enter that process with no clear blueprint. We rarely know what will be required of us when we take that first step. Obstacles we might encounter scare us before we even begin. That’s where faith comes in. Believing that God is on our side and trusting Him to guide our process motivates us to proceed.
We move slowly and timidly, listening to the Spirit as He leads us to our first step. We know that the longer we resist, the longer the process will be. But, that first cut is always the deepest. It convicts us of our pride. Painfully, the Spirit reveals our offensive ways so He can help us clean out the clutter. (Psalm 139:23-24) He may even encourage us to seek the help of a counselor to help us with the heavy emotional lifting.
As we send old hurts and sins flying into the dumpster, we loosen our grip on our past. We begin to eagerly anticipate what lies ahead. (Philippians 3:13) Yet, before we can experience the fullness of joy, we must first renovate our minds by changing the way we think. (Romans 12:2) And, yes, that is quite a process; but it’s a very worthwhile one.
Once we begin to draw closer to Jesus through the Word, the more we begin to see everything through His eyes – especially ourselves. We begin to listen less to the lies of the enemy and more to the truth of the Spirit. We realize just how much we are loved and wanted. We begin to feel secure in our position as children of the King. Accepting all the love God has for us and realizing that He always wants what’s best for us transforms our minds, our will, and our emotions forever.
We eventually tear down the walls taken us a lifetime to build. As a result, we find the freedom we’ve always longed for. We begin to enjoy living in God’s wide-open spaces. The Message translation says it just like we feel it:
“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide-open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”(Romans 5:1-2)
Having had our hearts and minds changed, our actions just naturally begin to change. We not only feel different, but others begin to notice a difference in us. That’s what we wanted all along – for others to see us loving them out of pure delight rather than duty or obligation.
The old habits and crutches we once automatically relied on have been thrown out. In their place, we reach for the hand of Jesus and rely on His Spirit to lead us, teach us, comfort us, and even correct us when we need it.
Transformation continues for a lifetime, but there is nothing like the initial process that leads us into a true relationship with the One who loves us most, the One who died to prove it, and the One who wants to be our very best friend. Loving God back, loving His other children, and giving Him all the honor and glory becomes the sweetest process ever.
Though we don’t know every detail of the process God has laid out for us here on earth, we know what lies ahead. We know that Jesus has gone before us to prepare a spectacular place. Because of His great love for all of us, He is being patient so that we have time to bring others with us. (2 Peter 3:9) He longs for everyone to repent so we can all enjoy lingering at His spacious table. He is patient with us because He knows something very important about learning to love …
It’s a process!