Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I heard His voice and didn’t even recognize it. I tried to do good things, and I tried to be kind, and considerate, yet I failed. Even as I was praised for things I did, or recognized for who I was, I was failing, and I knew it, I just didn’t recognize it. Such hollow achievement, such worthless success. Career advancement, a wife, a home, two cars, even ministry positions at several churches, yet where was peace? My pride was driving me. My pride had control. My God was me.
Yes of course I believed in God. I was brought up right. I went to church every Sunday like the good Catholic boy I was. Heck I even got involved, I taught religious ed., and was a Eucharistic Minister. I was like all the other good people I knew, hardworking family people just searching for the “American Dream”. With all the great things that were happening, I guess I just assumed I was doing what I should in God’s eyes, not that I ever actually had that thought. I was proud of who I was. My God was me.
Although I was divorced, my pride kept me high. I continued to worship me, and the good guy I was. I kept up my religion when it was convenient, in between “me” time. I enjoyed the world and what if offered me. Girlfriends, parties, nice things, all to show the world how powerful I was, what I could do. My God was me.
And then the world taught me a few things. It taught me that what I had built was false. It showed me that it was in control and not me. I lost the things I valued, my career, my girlfriend, my pride. My deity.
On that day I cried out. On that day ‘He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of my slimy pit, out of the mud and mire.’
It had been some time since I went to a church, maybe a year, but I had recently joined a church that spoke truth. It was that truth that led me to seek Him, to Cry out, and to repent. That day my eyes were opened, my ears began to hear.
On that day ‘He set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.’
That Rock was Jesus Christ, and although my journey with Christ had begun years before, I had now learned lessons that were critical to my relationship with God. Critical to knowing that only in the foundation of Christ would I be at peace. As I built this new “house” this new dwelling place in the Lord I have become something new. I now live in him, and He in me.
On that day I said ‘Here I am, I have come – it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.’
I heard his voice, and on this day it was clear. On this day I would know his will. I would be instructed to share his Word, and I would willingly accept His command.
‘I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart. I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, LORD, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.’
So much has become clear to me since that day. It is clear that I need Jesus. It is clear that gathering with believers is critical to my growth. Learning from a great teacher, studying with like-minded people, worshipping and praising as a body builds my relationship with God. What has become even clearer these past few years however is the reason for my relationship with God. Yes, my salvation is important to me. I do live in hope that one day I will gaze upon his face. But my purpose, my goal, my mission, is to share his Love, to serve his purpose, to spread his kingdom. I do not bring him Glory, I do not Glorify God, I can only display his Glory, I can only offer myself as sacrifice to his Grace and Mercy. A sacrifice of my existence to be used for his purpose. It is all I can give.
Psalm 40 paraphrased above speaks to me of my transformation. Although written in another time, another place, His Word is Truth yesterday, today, and tomorrow. This is where I was led last night, as he blessed me with His peace.
Proverbs 3 has been given to me to close;
Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
What I learned from this world, is that I cannot place faith in myself, or anything of this world. IN ALL YOUR WAYS SUBMIT TO HIM. Everything I do, every thought I have, every hope, every dream is in Him today and every day. Praise God.
As I walk in faith with Jesus as my guide, this prayer I sing; (from Psalm 40)
Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.
May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.