Saturday, January 24, 2015

Lord, I'm Ready Now

                Our God is a gentleman. I am sure some of you have heard this saying before, and if you are like me, you have found great comfort in the knowledge that our God is a gentleman. He does not force His will upon us. He does not force His love upon us. He waits. He waits patiently with great and perfect longsuffering for us to come to that place of surrender, that place of realization that He alone is right and true, and He alone is all that we will ever need. Our God is a gentleman, and I praise Him today for this truth!
 My husband has type 2 diabetes, and is insulin dependent. He was diagnosed almost 7 years ago now, and we have been living with the daily struggle of choosing the right foods over the wrong foods. As we have gotten older, things are not working like they used to either. Then last year the Lord really started to speak to me about my body. The way that I treat it, the way that I abuse it and the harmful chemicals I am putting into it. I found myself very ill and hospitalized. I had somehow contracted nasty bacteria from the food that I had been eating which had caused an ulcer in my stomach, not to mention some other areas of concern. This was sort of a wakeup call for me. I realized then that the food that we were eating was pretty much making us sick. We needed a change. But, knowing and doing are two entirely different things. We knew we needed change, and we had started to look into diet changes, but until a few weeks ago, these changes were just talk.
                But isn’t that the way we are as human beings. We want change, we desire change, we even pray for change. I can’t tell you how many times I pray for the Lord to change me, mold me, make me new, over and over again. But still the same old habits, the same old “me” is still here.  Something the Lord has taught me recently however, has helped me see and understand what it means to truly change, and I want to share it this with you today. It has everything to do with our God being a gentleman, and I pray these words that He allows me to write today will encourage you to work towards the change that He wants to do in your hearts, and perhaps like me, in your body as well.
                First of all, change can only come when there is a willingness to do so. Talking about changing our diets never accomplished anything. It was not until I came to the realization that I was literally killing myself with the foods I was eating that I began to want to change. My jeans were getting tighter; my one chin became two chins, and my energy level when from normal to a dead stand still. I was sluggish all the time. All I wanted to do was sleep. I had no desire to do anything, and for me that is not normal. I have always had a sort of hyperactivity, it used to drive my mom nuts, and if I am not doing something then I feel useless and I start to get depressed. That is exactly where I was when the willingness to change started to kick in. I was feeling useless and getting depressed, crying out and praying to the Lord. He spoke to me and told me that these were my choices, I had made them, and it was my choice whether I wanted to change or not. It was then that I made the choice to change.
                Next, change is not something God will just wave a magic wand over and make happen.
Remember, our God is a gentleman, if you don’t want to do what is necessary to make the change in your life; He is not going to force it on you. Our God is not some genie in a magic bottle that we rub and pray to and He just goes and does it. He doesn’t make wishes come true. He answers prayers based off our true, sincere heartfelt requests. I was coming to the Lord praying for change, but in my heart I was not ready, nor was I willing to do what was necessary so that He could help me change.
                I think for years I was struggling with this idea that God would somehow just change me if I just asked Him to. Even though we know that God only works with willing hearts, (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 51:17) I still thought that if I asked Him enough, if I could just “ask, seek and knock” (Matthew 7:7) enough times He would just finally take away all of me that was still hanging around and replace it with Him. But that is not how our God works. If we believe God for change in our life, then we must also be obedient and do the things He is asking us to do to allow that change to happen. Paul writes and says that we are to “put off, concerning our former conduct, the old man…” (Ephesians 4:22). Paul doesn’t tell us to pray and ask God daily to take away the old man, but that we are to be the ones who are putting him off of us. The choices we make, the decisions we face, these all have a direct impact on how willing we are to change.
                I wanted change, but I was not making the choices that I needed to make to allow God to work out in me the change I so desperately needed. It was not until I came to a place of complete surrender; it was not until I came to a place where I knew that I had no other option but to change. There were no more excuses left. I finally realized how naked and bare I truly am before my God. (Hebrews 4:13) My lack of change was my own fault, no one else’s. I was the one who was not willing to follow His instructions.  I was the one who was not being obedient. I alone was the one who was going to stand before Him and give an account. (Hebrews 4:13)
                The change we desire, the change we seek, can only come through complete surrender. I thought I was surrendered. But, in the end, I was only justifying my own will so that I didn’t have to do what God was asking me to do. We may say we are surrendered, but if we are not following that surrender with obedience, then we are lying to ourselves and to our God. Because surrender is always followed by obedience, and if not, then we are only justifying our own sinful desire to do what we want, instead of what God wants. Complete surrender is a life lived in complete and total obedience to whatever God asks of you. When I think of surrender I think of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, when He prayed and drops of blood fell from His forehead.
                “And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”  Luke 22:41-44
                Jesus prayed that His Father’s will be done. He knew what He had to do, and in His flesh there was no desire to do it. It was only through obedience that He was able to go through with what was ahead of Him. It was His obedience that saved us all. The only way to put to death the old flesh of sin was through obedience to the will of the Father. We want change, we pray for His will to be done, but we are not willing to be obedient to what He is asking us to do. The changes that need to take place in my life are only going to happen when I give myself in full surrender to His will and become obedient, yes, even obedient to the point of death. (Philippians 2:8)
             The writer of Hebrews reminds us of this truth when we are faced with the temptations to stray from the path God has for us. When the desire to choose cake over fruit overwhelms me, or the desire to break from my daily exercise routine and instead sit on the couch eating chocolate and watching every Jane Austin movie ever made overtakes me, (I am a sucker for Jane Austin) I must remember these words,  "You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:4) 
 I desire change. I desire to be the woman that God has called me to be. I desire to take care of this temple that He has given me and to glorify Him through it all. The desire is there, now the willingness to change has to follow. He will help me. He will give me strength to press on and press through, but He won’t do the work for me. My God is a gentleman, He loves me and He is longsuffering because He has waited all these years for me to come to the place of complete surrender, and willing obedience. If you desire change in your life, then you must come to the place of complete surrender, followed by obedience, even if that obedience makes you sweat blood, or leads to your death. In the end, it is the only way we can ever truly experience change.
I heard this song the other day on the radio, and it helps put things into perspective for me. Because as I listened to it, I realized that I was finally at that place as well. I was ready. I could sing with Plumb, “Lord I’m Ready Now.” If you are ready, then I pray that the Lord will give you strength to choose change and to do what He is asking of you. It won’t be easy, it will be hard. But through His strength and through His example we can be the people God is asking us to be. Are you ready?

                Father, You know my heart, You know my every thought, I am naked and open before You. I pray today for Your strength to be obedient to Your will. Lord I am ready now, all my walls are down, do unto me as You desire. Here I am Lord, I am ready for change. I pray today also, that these words You have given me will encourage Your children to also come to a place of complete surrender followed in obedience. Father, You are a Gentleman, and I praise You for Your patience and longsuffering, because You have waited for me to come to You and say, “Lord I am ready now.” Father, may these words that I have written bring glory, honor and praise to You and You only. Father, change us, we are ready. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen. 
Link to "Lord I'm Ready Now" by Plumb.