I've been having one of those kinds of weeks... several in a row actually, where you get overtired, crusty, frantic and run down to pieces all because, if I'm being honest, first things just were not first. As I found myself in a familiar pattern of failing in self-reliant mode, it got me thinking about a lesson I've learned... make that learn-ing. I'm pretty sure God has had it on repeat for the last several years.
Our family was tremendously blessed last summer with an all-expense paid trip to the Philippines. All 11 of us jumped on the plane and endured the seemingly endless plane ride with excitement and anticipation. It was my first time out of North America and consequently my first time in a third world country. I was shell shocked to see some of the conditions that people live under and not only that- the conditions that people are contently living under. All my dad's instructions from childhood about turning off the lights and not wasting water or food suddenly seemed like very reasonable requests after seeing the scarcity he came from.
During the trip, my dad posed one of his thought provoking questions to me: "Step...how will your life be different because of this trip?" I felt slightly pressured to produce a 'right' answer...
"Well," I began, "It's made me appreciate what I have more." He was not content. "What else?" "Umm...I think I'll be less material when I get home..." He just smiled like he had a secret that I failed to uncover.
I felt very inspired to live a simpler lifestyle immediately after arriving back home until some time elapsed and I felt equally inspired to buy a pair of darling, red, pointy, high heels. The accumulation of these shoes posed a new problem for me. I, of course, had to have a matching bag. I couldn't help that I happened to be invited to a Purse Party on a night that I happened to be available, that happened to have a perfectly matching red purse for sale... can you see the stuff-disease spreading? Why did my inspiration to live simply fade so quickly?
I could go on with confessions of a shop-a-holic but the real issue I find myself battling on the inside no matter what mask it wears on the outside is, why don't I change? What will it take to make a long-lasting change?
We've all had that time we saw that inspiring thing, place or person, and thought, I will never be the same. The sad truth for me is my best effort hasn't been enough for the inside-out kind of change.
I want to be different because of my life experiences. I want to be more content because of poverty-stricken conditions I have seen and read about. I want to live my life totally sold out to the will of God because I have seen a very faithful example and a glimpse of the payoff. I've been inspired many times but unfortunately, I always seem to come up short. The world says, try harder. You can do it. I've tried harder but I always end up back at square one which seems to be synonomous with square-the-same
I do find a little U-2-ME-2 in Romans 7. I read about Paul and discover that even great evangelist may have shared some of my struggles. He says, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do...For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing...What a wretched [wo]man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
As I continue reading, I'm so relieved to find the real solution to change: "Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
I cannot change on my own. In fact, I can do nothing on my own (John 15:5).
Many times, I have looked at my dad's life and thought, I want to be like him. He was a great example but rather than trying to mimic his outward characteristics, I think my chances of being like him improve if I start thinking instead, I want to know and experience God the same way he did. I want God to change me so drastically the way he did for him. I want to surrender myself to change the same way he did.
It's never been about me or my efforts. It's not about what I can or cannot do on my own but what Jesus Christ wants to do in me.
For permanent change, seek out the Life-Changer everyday and turn yourself over to Him once again.