Sunday, September 11, 2011

Believing, Prioritizing, Transforming

Three themes have been running on parallel tracks through my mind for the last two weeks:


God has not audibly spoken these themes over my life (oh that He would!), but they have become obvious to me through multiple encounters of each topic. Over the last fourteen days or so, these specific words have popped up separately and unsolicited all around me. Through devotionals, articles, the words of friends, and magazines (even Woman's Day...which I still question how I got on their subscription list...). God has made it evident to me that I have issues to address regarding these areas.

Believing, Prioritizing, and Transforming do not necessarily relate to each other, but God has divinely weaved each of these into my life in such a way that I clearly see how they are not mutually exclusive in my life during this point in time.

Believe: a verb meaning "to have confidence in the assertions of (a person or God)"; to have a conviction that (God) is, has been, or will be engaged in a given action.

First off, I do believe! Don't I remember when my 7 year old self walked down the aisle of Double Branch Baptist and accepted Jesus into my heart? Of course I did, and that is a non-trivial belief. I have come to realize, however, that believing God now and tomorrow is not automatically included in the God's gift of salvation. Additionally, believing God is deeper than believing in His existence. Many people believe He exists, but God calls me to believe He will do in my grace-soaked life more than I could ever fathom (Ephesians 3:20). Sure, I believe in His Heavenly Kingdom and I believe that I will spend eternity in a beautiful place He has prepared for me. Yet, do I believe Him for the humanly impossible while I still physically reside in my home on Spanish Forest Lane in Houston, Texas? Do I pray with confidence that He hears and has the power to change those circumstances I bring before His throne? Do I believe that His love for me really and truly has not-one-thing to do with my performance?

God, the Master of the Universe, the One who holds sway over ALL things, has invited me (and you) to get to know him as Lord and friend. The Only True God, who has the power to raise the dead to life, is willing and ready and ABLE to act on my behalf and on your behalf when we ask and believe He is capable of delivering the object of our request.

Priorities: (priority in it's plural form). noun. The state or quality of being earlier in occurence; the right to precede others in order, rank; precedence; something given special, first in line attention.

If you have had any kind of conversation with me over the last 12 months, I probably gave you some indication of how spastic-crazy-overwhelmingly busy I have been at work. Did I say overwhelmingly? From 5:10 a.m. when my alarm goes off until 11:30 - 12:00 a.m. when I finally turn off my laptop, I don't stop. Not once. Lunches are normally eaten as I sit at my desk preparing for the next phone call, and the invention of the cell phone enables me to hold meetings during my daily commute. Facebook status updates are written either at a stoplight, while on hold, or as I walk from one task to the next. The allotted time to check and respond to personal email is while I'm waiting in line in a fast-food drive thru. I know you're thinking this is a psychotic pace, but I am willing to bet some or all of you have (to some degree) similar schedules.

I was not surprised when the Lord confronted me with a priority check. Just like the subject of believing Him, I started hearing from Him about my priorities in numerous forms and by several modes of communication. The most recent was this morning, and it was so apparent that I immediately dropped to my knees so that I could make sure I was hearing Him correctly (you would think I didn't have to be told for the 24th time). The last 12 months of my life flashed before my eyes: images of "family time" with my laptop in the place where Luke's head would normally rest; vacations where I made phone calls when I should have been enjoying the beach; dinners I have missed because there was a report due the next day; pre-school parties where I had an achingly hurtful absence because of a "very important call". Last, but not least, I see my husband sleeply soundly in our bed, after waiting for an hour or more for the laptop to click shut. Suffice it to say, God could not have spelled it out more succintly than He did with that mental montage He rolled through my mind.

Instead of being racked with guilt about my upside down priority list, I am thankful God loves me so much that He pursues change in me. He has persistently put up red flags all over the place, because He knows I am missing my best life when I pursue emptiness. You see, sacrificing my family relationships is one thing; but beyond that, He wants me. Jesus Christ wants to be Lord over my time, my money, my work life, my thoughts, my friendships. He saved me so that I could live under the freedom of His Lordship. When I am running at such a maniacal pace where I literally schedule restroom breaks (no exaggeration), there is something wrong with my priorities. There is something "off" in my motives because GOD, even GOD, rested.

Transforming: verb. to change in condition, nature, character or structure. metamorphose.

Tranformation means "to change".

My all-or-nothing, win-or-lose, tendency towards perfectionism insists that transformation is (or should be) instantaneous. To be certain, when Jesus saved me from eternal death apart from Him, He instantly transferred me from death to life. However the process of transformation...of sanctification...will not be fully complete until I stand before God in heaven. In the here and now, God transforms me from glory to glory: sometimes little by little and, at times, huge by huge.

Without going into detail, part of this most recent theme of transformation in my life has included butterflies, which literally show up in unexpected places. God is so cool like that, because you read that correctly. Butterflies. Everywhere. The metamorphisis of caterpillars into butterflies is one of the most common examples of transformation we have to symbolize the process of change in the life of a believer. Paul says in Romans 12:2 that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. We go through a process of change when we submit ourselves to the Truth of God's Word. If we are actively pursuing God's Word, believing it to the point that it affects our daily lives (in thought, conduct, behavior) - then we cannot be "un-transformed".

Still, I want it now. I don't want to wait. So I try in my own might to be different: to say the things a good Christian would say, to act wisely and speak graciously like a perfect Christian should! Then the Lord mercifully reminds me that true transformation is impossible without Him. I can alter my behavior from time to time, but it only takes a conversation with my husband for you to discover some things never truly change without the radical transforming power of God. (This woman who so desperately longs for perfection really does not like to admit that, by the way!)

Jesus is the Master Transformer. Unless I humble myself and allow Him to transform me moment by moment, choice by choice, day by day...from glory to glory, then I will remain the same. Who wants to be the same?

My mind-set is tracking from a different perspective these days. God cares enough about us to speak to us about issues in our life He would like to lovingly change. He does this for our good and His glory. When we are attentive to Him and willingly welcome His refining fire, we live smack dab in the middle of the abudant life He promised to us. The great news is, we don't have to be ship-shape-holy to live in relationship with Jesus! If that were the case, there would be no human eligible for a seat next to Him! We can stand confidently in His presence based on the blood of Jesus alone. My soul leaps (literally) when I acknowledge that my ideal dream of perfection is meaningless in the light of Jesus' salvation! Praise God, I can NEVER be perfect without His righteousness...I can never be so stain-free that I don't need Him.

It's clear God and I have much to talk about these days. I have a good idea that as I listen to Him, I will be believe Him more. I would bet my house that believing Him will lead to "priority realignment". Doesn't that mean He is transforming me...?

Believing God is willing and able.
Prioritizing my life according to His purpose for me.
Transforming my life by the renewing of my mind.

I am just flat-out happy that He loves me.

That's all.
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