When Simon Peter saw that (the miraculous catch of fish), he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

Luke 5: 8

 

This is just how God is. He enters into our lives in ways that simply make sense. In this case He had spoken a few words and an entire night of futility had turned into a record haul of fish. Yet, what had happened was also absolutely miraculous in that it had never happened before, was contrary to all of the laws of professional fishermen, and demonstrated a form of control over Creation that only God can possess. Finally, Peter responds to the presence of God in his life in a very real and vitally important way; for Peter recognizes his own sinful inadequacy, and this acknowledgement opens his heart to the transformational work of Christ.

 

The Lord walks into my life in this same manner. He brings answers to my needs and shows me the mighty love that He has for me by the fact that He does this despite the condition of my heart and the faithfulness of my mind. In fact, it seems that He often brings these miraculous moments into my view at times when I have simply gone off fishing on my own, and in so doing I have walked away from His will. Still, Christ is there, calling my name, preparing a feast for my tired soul, and expressing His desire for my return to Him.

 

Still, Peter’s response is appropriate. Like Peter, we all need to recognize and to express the sinfulness of our hearts. This is how we realize our deep need for the changes that God wants to make in us, and this is how we release the grip that Satan tries to maintain on parts of our beings. The real beauty to me in this situation is the way that Jesus responds to this vulnerability and confession of weakness. Christ says that we should not fear, for He has great things in store for us. He has a path of travel planned for us, and God, Himself, is committed to walk the entire length of that road at our sides.

 

Faithful is He who calls you, and He will bring it to pass.

1 Thessalonians 5: 24

 

Everyone faces issues and challenges that are hard to deal with. There are the long standing personal characteristics and traits that continue to plague us, and the issues of sin that are wound around our hearts and minds in a manner that makes them resist our best intentions and our genuine desire to change. The hard to win battle may be wrapped in a seemingly impenetrable covering of fear, doubt, and uncertainty, or it might be anchored by the hardened cement of our stubbornness. However, whatever it is that is causing you to hesitate to commit fully to Christ, to trust Him absolutely with everything, or to release your grip on the remnants of your old way of thinking and acting; God has an answer for it, and He will do all of the hard transformational work for you.

 

All that the Lord requires of us is that we be willing. He wants us to desire the change and to seek the relationship with the change agent; that is, with His Spirit. As we become open to the need for a new or a different way of viewing various aspects of our lives and we allow Christ access to those areas of our hearts and minds, His Spirit will start to change us, and this change will always be for the better. The Lord never requires us to give up something that He doesn’t replace with something far greater, and He always stays with us all the way through the process.

 

This all starts with accepting Christ as the One who makes that crucial difference. This is the difference between life and death, and the difference between futility and fulfillment in this life. Then, once we are engaged in that relationship, true living can begin. Then, the Spirit of Christ becomes engaged with us in molding our hearts into ones that function more and more like God’s, and He provides us with the direction, process, and strength to make these changes. The Lord calls us to live a life that is full of promise, hope, and joy, and He will make it all real for anyone who desires the transformation and who allows Christ to make the needed changes.

 

God shows no partiality.

Romans 2: 11

 

There are times when we simply want someone to be impartial; thus, we could count on that person not prejudging us and our motives and not entering into a conversation with us with the outcome already determined. Also, this idea conjures up the image of being given equal opportunities and of standing on our own merit and being rewarded for our own accomplishments. This seems like the ideal world; yet, when I consider my merit and worthiness in contrast to God’s standard of righteousness; I think that I would prefer some sort of special treatment from Him.

 

For impartiality cuts both ways and my efforts at living as the Lord tells me to live are seriously flawed. Still, God means it when He says that He loves, cares for, protects, guides, and relates to everyone with no regard to where we are from, who our parents were, what we have done, and what we may have believed about Him. God takes us where we are and as we are. From there, He gives Himself totally to everyone who will allow the Spirit of Christ the opportunity to perform His transformational work upon them.

 

The Lord wants me to react to His impartiality toward me by accepting it in its totality. As I embrace the fact that God does take me just as I am and uses all of me as the foundation for performing His amazing and wondrous feats of love in and through me, my sense of worth and status in the eyes of my Father, God, are elevated to the highest of places. Then I am called by God to view others without the prejudices that are natural to people. Instead, Christ shows me how to see with eyes of grace that recognize the beauty, potential, and worth that has been created by God into everyone.

 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Romans 12: 1

 

There are family members and friends who are truly hard to shop for when gift giving occasions come along. They are the people who have everything, or they are the type of person who truly wants nothing. God is one of these hard to shop for types. Still, although God owns it all, has everything, and is the Creator of each and every valuable object in the universe, there is still a gift that we can give to Him.

 

The Lord doesn’t want us to do things for Him, and He doesn’t desire our words of praise, thanksgiving, and honor. Clearly these are good and worthy endeavors, but this is not the primary way that God wants us to worship Him. We can present all of our wealth and everything that we own to God, and that would not be close to enough, for the Lord of the universe actually desires one thing only from and with each person on the earth. He wants to have a deep and an honest relationship with us.

 

That sort of connection with God is made possible for us when we are willing to give ourselves to Him. The Lord is never absent and always receptive to us. We are the ones who create any distance that may exist through our stubborn refusal to fully embrace Christ’s transformational work in our lives. We withhold a portion of ourselves. We test the water to see if we will find it pleasing rather than jumping fully into God’s pool of cleansing and healing love. Yet there is absolutely no reason for anyone to withhold anything. Christ is completely trustworthy and totally gracious to receive all of who we are. He treats this most intimate and special of gifts with great love and respect.

 

It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Philippians 2: 13

 

When I was a youth, there was a summer where growth and change took over my body; I grew three inches taller and actually lost a considerable amount of weight in just a few weeks. From my viewpoint, I knew that things were changing, but my sense of the change was less than that of people who saw me after it had happened. I did experience pain, for my joints ached; and I had some really awkward moments; since, my hands and my feet did not know where they were in relation to the rest of the world. God does some remarkably similar things in us. I doubt that He will make you much taller, but He will give you the confidence to hold your head a lot higher. He won’t necessarily cause you to lose weight, but He will carry the load of life for you. Just like in my growth spurt, you may not notice the dramatic ways that you are changing, but others will see a new person emerging.

 

In Christ, we are new persons; people who now have our identity in Christ. We have been made right and righteous, and our relationship to God has been restored. Whether we are four, forty, or at any other age, and throughout all of life, we grow and mature as the Spirit of Christ does the amazing and loving transformational work that He has planned for each of us. You see, every personal trainer, mentor, guru, yogi, pastor, and coach who has ever worked with people possesses nothing more than a mere shadow of life=changing ability of God. He knows us from the heart out, and He plans for our greatest good in ways that are beyond the capability of any human.

 

The growth pains and awkward moments that do come as we are on this life-long path of transformation are simply minor bumps in the road. They are reminders of how far we had to go and of how very far we have come in the journey of being transformed into the living image of Christ. This change that is afoot in our bodies, minds, and spirits is there because God loved each of us totally and willed that it would be possible. The change occurs and continues as we accept this love and yield ourselves in order to allow Christ the opportunity to bring about further transformative change.