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Change Truly Starts Within

Last week I wrote about the fruit of our life. How do we evaluate – or how do others know – that our faith means something to us? What is the mark that faith goes beyond words to choices, attitudes, decisions, and how we treat others? How does following God go from being something we say to something we do?
In my life, one way I’ve seen “fruit” is a deeper understand of God’s character. Not the platitudes or head knowledge I was raised with, but something I know.

I know God is good when the worse comes – the death of a child. I know, sitting on the porch, the shock of the news still lingering – that God has me and if I stay near to Him, I will be okay.

I know God is in control amidst the questions, the pain, the grief, the tears, the litany of things my stepdaughter will never get to experience and others won’t get to celebrate with her.

I can wrestle with God and move beyond pat answers and what can feel like easy cop outs to what is underneath. Jacob wrestled with God and told Him he would not leave without God’s blessing. He was determined to get an answer from God. And I’ve seen that in my own life. As I take time to study His word, to stop and ponder what is there, to write it out and to wait, to discuss it with people of faith I trust – God answers.

I’ve also seen a shift from this life or faith being about me, to realizing it is truly about others. My heart breaks more for the injustices of this world. I see things from a place of abundance! And I don’t mean material things but the Fruit of the Spirit. There is always more love, more hope, more peace, more joy that can be shared. We are called to welcome the stranger, to take them food, to love those who oppose us (or who we oppose!). The words of Jesus stop being nice ideas and become something that influences your life.

I pray for those who grate me the wrong way. I pray for leaders I object to. I pray for people I have a hard time finding compassion for. I pray for situations I have no control over. I pray with open hands. I pray: Lord, Your will be done, without some ulterior motive of what that could be.

The point of all this is not a move towards perfection. It’s shedding the armor-like skin that kept me one step removed from this world and allowing myself to feel, see, interact with what is around me in a humble, open, and intentional way.

It is also easier to call out false teachers and messaging that are aligned to a party or platform instead of His Word. I know what the Bible says and I know what His Word means.

And more importantly, I am able to detect the hypocrisy in my own life. It is harder to hide behind an image of God we’ve fashioned after security, a political ideology, an emotion, a box to fit our comfort, when you are wrestling to know, and be grafted to, the one true God. It is also easier to detect what is God and what is man.

Tozer said that God is who God is 100% of the time. God cannot do anything contradictory to His nature. I know God is love, just, good, in control, with me, and all about holiness. God is not responsible for the evil of this world. God will not excuse or overlook anyone who acts outside His nature while claiming His name, regardless of how well liked or popular that person is.

God is a jealous God. We say that, but as we become more fixed on Him, we understand what that means and why that should lead to a holy fear.

God is like a rabbit hole. The more you get to know Him the more you want to know Him! And there is always more to discover.

Now please hear I am not saying this is what fruit should look like! I am saying that the fruit of our life starts within and, for me, the last few years have been a lot about ripping up the rotted, dead, sunbaked soil and putting in the good stuff. It started with water for my dry heart and has grown into something deep, true and real.

That is fruit – and it is something that can only happen within us. If I am connected to the Vine (aka God) then I will be more loving, kind, patient. I will be less angry and defensive and see the more divisive issues of this world from a different perspective.

I am not saying I am perfect.
I am not saying I have it all together.
I am not saying this is the only answer.
I am not saying this process is done.

I am saying I am different today and it is all because of intentionally pursuing God in ways that force me to wrestle with the hard issues and deconstruct the other idols of my life until only He remains.

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