As Christians, we often hear that God is the only one who can affect real & lasting change in our lives. This is one of the reasons we desperately need a Savior. Not only have we all sinned, but even after we accept God’s salvation, we often still find ourselves trapped doing the very things we hate, as Paul says in his letter to the Roman church. Matt Heard says it this way: “I cannot bring myself to life.” On the other hand, the apostle James tell us faith without works is no faith at all, affirming Jesus’ statement that we will know a tree by its fruit. I’ve found in my own life, I have to not only be willing for God to work in every area, often He waits for me to really desire & pray for Him to work in specific ways. The more I seek Him in it, most often after my own failed efforts, the more quickly He breaks the chains. In some ways, even for the believer, it’s true what actress Carol Burnett once said: “I’m the only one who can change my life; no one else can do it for me.” God asks me to be willing to let Him do His work, but also to work in tandem with Him.
In my first few months working in missions in the Dominican Republic, I found myself overwhelmed as never before with humbling progress on the learning curve of culture, language, ministry & relationships. If I had made a list before going, of all the areas in which I hoped God would work on me, He would have hit each one of them & many more. In attending a retreat w/ other missionaries, a veteran YWAM. missionary gave an invitation I’ve never forgotten. It was something to the effect of: “If God is refining you, if you are finding yourself painfully sifted as wheat through a sieve, surrender. Stop fighting now & allow Him to come do whatever work in you He wills. Only then will He be able to work through you.” I made the decision to follow her advice, determinedly giving up the resistance battle of pride I hadn’t even realized I was fighting, & quickly saw a radical difference in what God was able to do both in & through me. Though I’ve never forgotten her words, still on a daily basis, my attitudes & actions reveal I never truly learned the lesson. I’m still learning to ride in tandem with Him, still learning to surrender & enjoy the ride. As Joyce Meyer would say, “I’m not where I need to be, but thank God, I’m not where I used to be. I’m okay, & I’m on my way!”.