Continued from here.
One reason we are on this earth is to transform into Christ’s image. Transformation does not happen quickly: by definition, transformation is a slow process. As you pray for your miracle, you might not see anything happening, but God is much less concerned with changing your circumstances than He is with changing YOU.
The lesson we all need to learn is that GOD’S WAY ACTUALLY WORKS. When we choose not to forgive those who wrong us, we are refusing the slow miracle of God’s healing. Our pain is not caused by the wrong that was done to us (although I know it feels that way). Instead, our pain is caused by our reaction to what was done. When we choose to think negatively about someone and feed the bitterness, we build our own emotional prisons. While God could miraculous tear down those prison walls for us, without transformation, we will simply build them right back up again. God tells us to forgive and to pray for our enemies, not because they deserve it but because that’s the door to opening the miracle of healing. How quickly or slowly that happens depends upon your willingness to live your life God’s way.
The same holds true for healing your marriage. Marriage only works God’s way, which involves humbling yourself by deferring your preferences to your spouse. Because you are one, the more you lash out in anger toward your spouse, the more wounds you inflict onto yourself. Conversely, when you defer your preferences to your spouse and honor him or her, you open the door to the slow miracle of healing your marriage. Many of God’s slow miracles are invited in by simply doing things God’s way.
While my preference at the time would have been quick miracles for healing the eating disorder, childhood pain, and marital woes, if I could go back in time and change this, I wouldn’t. Quick miracles would have only been temporary fixes because my disobedience to God’s ways would have simply placed me back in the same situation as before. The slow miracles transformed me so that I am no longer tempted to go back. I know how much effort was required to experience God’s miracles, and I refuse to return to the bondage from which God has freed me.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding a barbell above her head. Courtesy Bitmoji.]
Continued from here.
Many people seem to believe that the point of being a Christian is about getting into heaven and avoiding hell. If that is the primary focus of your faith, you are still an infant in Christ and feeding on milk. It’s time to mature! God has so much more to offer you than “fire insurance” against going to hell. While I am happy to know I won’t go to hell when I die, that fact is low on my list of reasons why I am grateful to have a relationship with God. God can make a very real difference in your life today, as well as in the lives of everyone you encounter in your day-to-day life, if you stop seeking additional reassurances that you really are avoiding hell and start feasting on the meat God has to offer you. There’s so much more to be excited about than avoiding hell!
The big picture story of the Bible has four parts: Creation, the Fall, Rescue, and Restoration. We were created to be in relationship with God. The Fall happened when Adam and Eve chose to make their own decision about what was good. Jesus came to rescue mankind and restore relationship with God. Jesus did not come only so mankind could escape hell: the main point was to bring people back into relationship with God:
[Jesus’] purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” ~ Eph. 2:15b-16
To have a relationship with someone, you need to come into his presence. While our society keeps trying to convince us that we can have successful relationships over a computer screen or through our smart phones, there is simply no replacing face-to-face contact for building solid relationships. Your relationship with God is no different.
Jesus did not come simply to save us from hell. His sacrifice was not for us to check “not going to hell” off our worry list so we could continue living in a way that is functionally no different from the culture around us other than warming a pew on Sunday. Jesus destroyed the barrier of sin that separated us from entering into the presence of God! God wants a relationship with you, and this is only going to happen if you enter into His presence. Again, I am not saying that you are not a Christian or are going to hell if you choose never to do this. But don’t you want more? You have direct access to the presence of the Living God! Don’t rest until you learn how to open that door in your heart and walk boldly into His presence!
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace’s face on the cover of a book entitled, “Why Even Try?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]
I have previously shared about the importance of setting aside daily quiet time with God. Because this decision coincided with God completely transforming me, I believed that daily quiet time was the missing piece. However, a couple of friends who have been setting aside daily quiet time for an extended period of time have told me that they have yet to experience this transformation. So, I went before God to ask why. This series is about what God revealed to me in from my own spiritual journey, which I hope will help you experience the same radical transformation that I have.
If you are a Christian who has never been overwhelmed by God’s Spirit to such a degree that you could not help but transform into something new, then you have not yet experienced all that God has to offer you. I am not in any way saying you are not a Christian—I am simply alerting you to the fact that you have yet to experience the very best part of being a Christian. Once you have entered into the presence of the Living God, you cannot help but transform in His powerful presence. While God is always with you since you received Christ as your Savior, you are not always with Him. Entering into the presence of God is different from receiving forgiveness for your sins and changing your eternal destiny from hell to heaven. While that is an important part of Christianity, if that’s your end point, you are missing out on the very best parts of your faith!
I am having difficulty finding the words to express what I mean by entering the presence of God. A devotional written by Sabrina McDonald in Daily Wisdom for Women 2017 Devotional Collection includes a good quote to help explain this:
In the secret place of my heart there is a little door which, if I open and enter, I am in the presence of God.” ~ Joseph Fort Newton
God is personal. He doesn’t just want your work. He wants you, and that requires meeting with Him, talking with Him, gleaning from Him. In His presence, we are refreshed.”
This series is about my own experience with opening that door in my heart and entering the presence of God. I hope my words will help you do the same. Until you enter the presence of God, you are missing out on the very best part of being a Christian!
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace’s heart leaving her body in a rainbow. Courtesy Bitmoji.]