I don’t like to be told what to do.
Therefore, when I first considered following Jesus, I was surprisingly concerned about what I would have to give up. I assumed that I would have to radically and immediately change my life. I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to do that. But, it soon became clear that God had my attention. Eventually, on December 10th many, many years ago, I took a step of faith and said, “OK, God, I’ll follow You even though I don’t have all the answers to all of my questions about You.”
I soon realized that although my life would change, it did not happen the way I had imagined it would.
This loving God took it easy with me. He slowly drew my attention to one thing that I knew I needed to change and I did that one thing. Then, my attention was drawn to another area where I was not living right and I decided to change that thing. On and on it went, slowly but steadily. God never criticized or coerced me into changing. His Holy Spirit made me aware of areas where I needed work and I changed little by little, always with His help - and always with His love.
I now realize that His love was, and is, mine and would have been mine whether I changed or not. I’m his little girl. He only wants what is best for me but never at the expense of relationship. I am accepted as is, change or no change. That’s unconditional love! The Bible says it this way, “See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children—think of it—and we really are!” (1 John 3:1 TLB)
The process became a lifelong one. I’m far from the person I used to be. My personality is the same, for better or worse, but my behaviors are different. My thoughts are different. My words are different. My lifestyle is different.
Guess what? He isn’t finished with me yet. I realize now that there are always going to be ways that I can grow and become more loving, more giving, and well . . . better. I will never be perfect but that’s OK. I am loved nevertheless.
Looking back on that day in December, had I known how many ways I needed to change – how long the improvement list was - I probably would have run for the hills. God knows not to overwhelm us with all of it at once. Yet, I see how much happier I am. I see the self-destruction that was a definite possibility for me. In hindsight, I see how slowly He brought things to my attention. He still does. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. It’s a process of love.
The Bible tells us how God feels about our process, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
What’s your process? Perhaps you’re following Jesus but at a distance. Have you held back out of fear of what you might have to change or give up? He loves you! Don’t be afraid to get closer. If you, like me, don’t like to be told what to do, He knows that. He’s a kind, caring God and won’t push you faster or further than you are willing and able to go. You’ll like where you land.
Sylvia Gaston is the Children’s Ministry Pastor at Koinonia Church. Any comments may be sent to email@example.com