We all want to have a better life. We want to be free from tormenting thoughts that cause mental anguish and feelings of despair. We want our bodies to be free from pain and discomfort, from illness and disease; to have the energy to work hard and to play hard. And at the end of every day we want to lay our head on our pillow, to immediately close our eyes and easily fall into a peaceful sleep. Then we want to get up refreshed and excited to start another wonderful day without any anxiety or fear of what the day may have in store.
Unfortunately, the majority of us are experiencing the effects of the bad choices we’ve made along the way, and we won’t admit that our decisions were largely to blame. Many times the people who are suffering the most are the ones who won’t take responsibility for their actions or do what it will take to make things better. And they get downright angry with anyone who dares to suggest they should.
I am an advocate of tough love. No one will ever get better- physically, emotionally or spiritually- without the tenacity and discipline to do whatever it takes to get to better. I read something recently that stayed with me and that I absolutely believe: “No one can come to God without coming to themselves first.” The first step toward God is coming to an understanding of how very weak natured we really are, and that we are helpless to change our character for the good without His help. A popular tenet says that anyone who has the ability to be truthful about themselves can change. Denial, however, is a friend that many people don’t want to lose.
Denial is a coping mechanism that can be a good thing because it allows us the time we need to adjust to distressing information that would otherwise traumatize us. But remaining in denial is a dangerous game to play. When we refuse to acknowledge a stressful problem or situation, when we avoid facing the facts of the situation, or minimize the consequences of a bad situation, we are setting the stage for chaos and failure.
If you want to have a better life….if you want to experience peace of mind and possess a true knowledge of who God is and what He expects you to be…you’ve got to get yourself out of the way first. To become more…you have to become less. It begins with you. God accepts us when we are still wallowing in the wrong stuff, self-centered and completely off track. But He doesn’t want us to remain in the muck we were stuck in.
The bible tells us to ‘work out our salvation’. God provides a free and unmerited gift that we don’t have to work to get. Salvation from hell is a decision to accept Jesus as your Savior. It is an individual choice that God will never force you to make. But once you have made that choice, He tells us that we must work on changing our perspectives to match His.
This is called ‘sanctification’. It doesn’t happen the moment we are saved. It is a process that is much like peeling layers off an onion. It is uncomfortable, it stinks and sometimes it can make you cry. But the benefits of this added ingredient are worth the trouble.
Is God worth the trouble? Are we willing to set aside our own desires so that we can do what God wants instead? If we really love Him we will. Love and obedience always go hand in hand. When we place Gods’ will over our own selfish interests we will be blessed in more ways than we could ever imagine. `
One of the hardest things we must do as human beings is to face ourselves for who we really are. The reality is that most of us can’t or won’t acknowledge the truth about the monsters we hide within. But, we can’t move forward in life unless we muster up the courage to fight against our base nature and develop the higher standards God has set for us. Study your own behavior and study what God says you should be. If your lifestyle doesn’t match up with His guidelines for right living, then you’ve got a decision to make. Ask yourself: ‘Do I really want to please God more than I want to please myself?’ If the answer is yes, then it is time to start the cleaning out and re-organizing process.
Everything in this life is a matter of choice. We can choose to do anything we want to do. Some of our choices will cause our lives to be better. Some are seeds of destruction. Bad situations won’t change without doing something different. If our journey in this life has been full of sink-holes that keep sucking us in or if we’ve been running into brick walls that keep us from getting ahead, it is never too late to change directions. Doing the same things over and over expecting things to change has been defined as insanity. Regardless, no one can stop us from deciding which path we will take. Like my husband Eric says, “You can lead a person to wisdom but you can’t make him think.”
I pray that God change any of my wrong perspectives so that I can see every person and every situation through His eyes. I pray for the courage to recognize my own weaknesses and the determination to eliminate them. I also pray for the ability to see my strengths so that I can build them up and use them for the benefit of others as I should.
I pray these things for each of you as well.