I found myself wandering alone through Hallmark this weekend. I found lots of things. Things that were pretty. Things that I wanted. Things that were expensive. I came away with a few clearance items for my girls and a new key chain. But, something I saw that I did not get made an impact on me. It was a little Maxine sign. You know Maxine, right? She is that old Hallmark lady that makes snarky comments that I tend to find funny because they apply to my life. This one was no different. Maxine says,
“Change is good…as long as I don’t have to do anything different.”
Hmmmmm…does that ring true for anyone else besides me? Now, I am not talking about changing your clothes or your hair do. If you know me, then you know I change those quite frequently. But real heart change, that is a different story.
How many of us have spent time trying to change ourselves? We try to make repairs from the outside in and try to repair holes in our veneer. How many times have we spent time being so preoccupied with how we thought our lives should appear? I spent wasted years that way that led to my addiction. I did. I spent many years trying to make life what I thought it was supposed to be and wished away years that I will never get back. But praise the Lord, I have a Redeemer!
The Serenity Prayer says, “God grant me to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” So, what are the things I CAN change?
The first change I had to make was to quit looking at what everyone else around me needed to change. The one thing I can change is ME. I cannot change anyone else…and I soon found that the problem was in me all along. But, so was the solution.
An oft quoted scripture is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Do you see what I see? I can DO! That denotes action. I cannot sit on my couch eating bonbons or Xanax and expect God to change me. I will never negate that our God can do supernatural things, but this verse says it all for me. I can do it with His strength. The Amplified Bible says in this verse that He infuses inner strength into me. So the power to change me lies in the inner strength Christ infuses into me when I seek Him diligently with my whole heart.
John the Baptizer talks about this kind of change…”Repent (think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2
You see, when John is calling people to repent, he is calling them to CHANGE! Change your mind, regret your sins AND change your conduct. This is no small task. This is not for the faint of heart. This is not a spectator sport. Repent and change are verbs. If you remember elementary school grammar, a verb is an action word.
This was true in Jesus day as well. The requirements have not changed. If you look at the beginning of John 6, John says that a huge crowd was following Jesus. Yet, by the end of the same chapter, John tells us that many turned away. It was just too hard. Remember Maxine? We are going to have to DO something different.
What exactly does that look like? John goes on in Matthew 3 to say, “Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart].” So, what is the proof of that repentance or change of heart in our lives? Our fruit will be different. Our lives will be changed. I like the way Britt Nicole puts it in her song All This Time…
“I hear these people asking me
how do I know what I believe.
Well, I’m not the same me, and that’s all the proof I need.”
And that is the truth! When I look at my life and where I’ve been spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and where I am now in those areas, it can be none other than our Great God. Not that there is not still work to be done. But, at least now I know I am on the path and willing to be led back when I’m off track. And not only that, but I have a burning need to share the reason for my hope. I love Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
How do we accomplish this change? Jesus says this, “And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]. Luke 9:23 AMP
We take up our cross daily…which for me is to lay me down, lose sight of myself and my selfish wants. We follow Him…conform to His example in living and in dying, which is to allow Him to shape us to Himself. Paul says it like this in Romans 12, “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”
So, today my encouragement is to quit looking around at this world for my significance. I need to quit measuring myself by those around me. I am not Marlene, or Chris or Paula or Traci. God does not want me to be like one of these ladies that I dearly love and respect. He has given me the One to model my life after and He is all I need. I want to conform to Him to follow Him to the end! As funny as Maxine is, let’s reset our minds. Let’s remember this quote by Oswald Chambers, “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” Let’s live our FAITH today and make a CHANGE following the One we love who is leading us.