05/30/14

What Would You Like to Change?

On a retreat once, a woman said she believed God wanted the group to pray for a healing of my right arm. I was born with a birth defect to my right arm. And while I do believe that all things were possible for those who believe, I wasn’t holding out much hope that the prayer would end with me having a restored right arm. But she was sincere and seemed empathetic, so I agreed for the people there to gather around me and pray for my healing.

When the prayers were done, I described the ways I believed God had shaped my through the birth defect. I said that if God offered me the opportunity to have a life where I grew up without the birth defect, but couldn’t guarantee everything else would be the same, I would refuse. Someone commented that it seemed God had already healed me.

Here and there I’ve heard other people give similar testimonies. Once at a conference, I heard a woman say she was grateful she was an alcoholic, because that was how she came to God. Recently I posed the “if God offered you an opportunity” question to someone who is in the midst of some very stressful times. She also said that if God couldn’t guarantee everything else in her life would be same, she would refuse a life change as well.

I don’t see this as Stoic. Rather, I see it as redemptive. God works through the circumstances of our lives for good (Romans 8:28). But are there things in your life that you can change and should change? Anything? And how would you go about it?

Tim Chester has written an incredibly helpful guide to do just that: You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions. Chester said his book alone cannot change someone. But it tries to connect the truth about God with our Monday-morning struggles. “This book points to Jesus and explains how faith in Jesus leads to change.”

He designed the book to be read as you work on a particular concern—your change project. Each chapter has the form of a question that you ask in your change project, with further questions at the end of each chapter to go deeper if you want. So what would you like to change? Why would you like to change? What stops you from changing? Are you ready for a lifetime of daily changing? These are all questions that Chester will ask you as you read his book. There is also additional material on the publisher’s (Inter-Varsity Press) website.

The last chapter cautioned that while sometimes people are dramatically changed, with one area of struggle disappearing almost overnight, that kind of change is rare. Most change is a slow battle. Insight and understanding into the lies and desires behind the sin doesn’t mean the problem is solved. Now you know where the fight is taking place and you know the truth you need to embrace. “But the struggle to believe that truth continues.”

What do you think stops people from making the changes they know they need to make?