My life today is nothing compared to what it was even five years ago, let alone 30 years ago when I began my Christian journey. God planted a seed of change; however, it took almost 20 years to stop living according to my rules and listen to his desires for me.
In a coaching session today I was asked how it felt to be obedient to God’s will and call on my life. I had to stop and think about what it felt like when I was calling the shots and making believe that God supported my decisions. I can tell you that today feels a whole lot better than back then.
The Psalmist wrote “When I learn your righteous laws, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your principals. Please don’t give up on me!” (Psalm 119:7-8 NLT)
I had to come to a point of willingness to learn how God wants us to live and then accept that his plan is so much better than my plan. My plan had me jumping from one relationship to another. My plan had me spending money I didn’t have to have what I didn’t need. My plan had me making up the rules as I went to justify a destructive, or at least unproductive, behavior.
I have redesigned my value system to one that more closely aligns with the one that Jesus spelled out for us. I say ‘more closely’ because I am still working to transform my life. I am still seeking a better understanding of the words I read and how to apply them to the way I live. Today I find my wisdom in the Bible and I lean on people who are examples of a God-driven life for inspiration. Today I am willing to obey—or to hear—what God has said is a better way. It is the choice I make every day when tempted to go my own way. I am not perfect and there are days I think I have wondered far off the path. The difference today is I am willing to seek a way back. I am willing to ask for forgiveness and I am willing to make changes. And more importantly, he never gives up on me!!
So how does it feel to be obedient? GREAT! FREE! BLESSED! ALIVE!
It is an exciting life to seek the face of God and to live in his will. How about you—are you willing to find a new joy in your life by setting aside your self will and accepting God’s will?
Humbly I come to you, having lost my way.
Wanting your forgiveness for my pride;
I sought my way and stumbled on the path.
Your words call out to me, pulling me back.
Yet I hold on to that which I know;
Hoping you will follow my lead and direction.
My plan has gone astray, the door has closed.
I have no choice but to surrender my will;
I’m left to accept that you have a new plan.
Where now shall I go amidst this turmoil?
How do I trust this new plan you have,
When I can’t yet see the light ahead?
How, O Lord, do I trust you when I have failed?
How, O Lord, do I trust me?
How do I even start anew?
And yet trust I do, as I cry out for your direction.
I breathe in all I know of you and wait;
I wait to hear your calming reassurance.
I wait to take the next step, leaning on you.
I wait; and then I slowly step forward,
Trusting you to open a new door,
Leading me into a new life.
A new path emerges and I see you in it.
All that is good has come from this my journey of change.
Protected Ransomed Refreshed Regenerated
As much as I complain about winter and snow, there is something cathartic about digging out a pathway through the snow. I usually start out alone, clearing the dusty snow as it falls, hoping to stay ahead of the storm. I will go back at it over and over. My daughter shakes her head at me wondering why I don’t just wait until the snow stops. I tell her it is because it will be too much to do all at once and it is better to clear away a little at a time. Eventually she will join me outside and together we clear the snow away in half the time it took me. And usually there are snowballs involved and much more laughter than when I am alone with my deep thoughts.
Sometimes I think my walk with Jesus is like that. I am digging out and trying to make the right choices on my own. I keep going back at my problem area and trying to figure out how to get out of the latest mess, only to find the path covered up again and myself set on repeat. As I have said, I tend to be a slow learner which is Maggiespeak for “stubborn” or “self-willed.” If I say that I trust in the Lord then why do I not trust in the way that he shows me? Why do I insist on doing it my way? Why am I so afraid of accepting guidance or assistance?
My personal focus these days is on my financial situation. Because I made decisions about the path I would take—one that made it look like I was affording to live the upper middleclass life in DC—I am now drowning in debt. Over the years I made some bad choices about where to live and how much I could afford to spend. I put myself in situations that were too costly, hoping that if I had enough stuff surrounding me I could avoid the pain inside and appear to be successful just like everyone else. And it was working—for everyone but me.
Today I am digging out again but this time I am doing it with guidance from God through others. And it is HARD!! I am getting better at giving back to God what is his. I am better at giving of my time to help others. I am better at reading the Bible and learning more about these principles I hold so dear. I am sitting in a small condo/apartment having given most of my old stuff away to people who actually needed it. I am living on cash only and saying “no,” even when my mind says: “buy it, it will be ok.” His path; not my path. His guidance; not my desires. Slowly I am seeing the light. Slowly the snow is not covering up my mistakes and I am resting for longer periods. Slowly God is turning my life around once again. Little by little the path is clearing. I’ll let you know how it goes but I am thinking this time the path may just stay clear ahead.
Show me the path where I should walk, O, Lord; point out the right road for me to follow.
Psalm 25:4 New Living Testament