Recently I read a powerful testimony of someone’s life and amazing transformation God has done in the life of this person, using him for God’s purpose and ministry. As I read about his life story, I wish I were experiencing such powerful transformation. “God can change this part about your life” he said in his book. “Oh I know God can. Nothing is impossible for God” I thought to myself. It seems that God placed a question in my head as I read on “Tom, do you believe I can change this part about you?” and I was stuck with my own rationalizations. “Well, that works out for him. But everyone’s situation is different.” “This has been a problem so long. I don’t think it will change.” “Well I’m not sure. I have tried before and failed.” “My problem is not like his at all. Maybe not as bad.” Reasons, excuses, justifications just keep popping up. You see, sometime God asks us just one simple question “Do you believe?” but we can’t give the straight answer.
I’m reminded of the story in John 5. There was a man crippled for 38 years, waiting by the pool of Bethesda for a chance to dip in water and be healed. Thirty eight years – that’s a very long time living (or maybe not-so-living) in this cripple condition, yet for some reason, he did not have any friend, or family, or band of brothers who knows about his condition and help him. He was very much alone. But Jesus noticed this man among the people! He saw and knew what the man needs and approached him. Jesus asked: “Do you want to get well?” (verse 5) The answer wasn’t sounding joy of “Yes!” or “Finally!! Someone come to my rescue.”, but the man answered with bitter, anguish that no one to help him. His eyes probably weren’t looking at Jesus, the very source for his salvation, but were limited in the view of the problem or the effort of trying to beat the crowd, hoping to be the first person in the pool. I’m just thinking out loud here, but as if this man has lost all of his hope and accepted his fate in this cripple condition. Jesus didn’t wait for the cripple man to have great faith, correct answer first, but He showed him compassion and healed him.
I can see myself in this crippled man. God sees things in my life that crippling me, and it could be things that no one could see, things that were problem for so long that I have accepted as ‘facts of life’. With compassion, God approaches you and me with the same question “Do you want to get well?” For God knows how many long years we have suffered a ‘condition’ that crippling us, stealing our love & joy in Him, robbing our time & money, destroying relationships, and now God wants heal us from it. He wants us to get up, wrap up our mat, and walk away free. The healing part is not ours to do, but it’s God. We just simply believe and receive. Knowing God’s healing power can do this is just not enough to get healed, but we need to desire to be healed and experience the healing for ourselves. There is different between knowing and believing. Knowing who God is, the extend of His love and grace, or what God can do in and through my life could simply be knowledge that I was taught, or impression I get from seeing or hearing from soneone’s story. Just knowing about God is not enough. I have to believe and start experiencing God for myself. Otherwise I just have all the textbook knowledge but missing out big time on the exciting field experience with the best guide I could ever have – God himself.
Now back to the question that stemming from the transforming life of a person, whether I believe God could also transform my life. Regretfully, I was hesitated with my answer before but I now firmly profess: “Yes, God. I believe You can change this part about my life just as You have done in this man’s life.” There is power in humility, admitting we can’t do things that only God can. There is power when we are fully surrender our lives to God. Couple common reasons for our hesitant are:
Sins. There might be secret sins that we are still secretly indulging, holding on. There might be ungodly belief or practice that we refuse to give up. Light and darkness cannot coexist. If we still side with darkness, we will less likely want to be changed, transformed.
“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:20)
Fears. Everyone faces some form of fear: rejection, punishment, letting go, unknown, etc. But God loves us and He’s not in business to put us in shame or punishment. Instead of fear, God gives us hope.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18)
“Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5)
Controls. We like to be in controll. Though we don’t see or care to admit but we’re being controlled by things we entertain; that is music, TV, shopping, foods, drinks, shopping, power, or a person. Which yolk we want to be under? We think giving up something is losing control, but rather we find strength when we complete surrender ourselves and submit to God. We are not of our own as we have been bought with a prize, Jesus’ blood. We belong to Christ now, and set apart for God’s purpose.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2-3)
Failures. Many of us has suffer failures and defeated. Some have tried all and kept failing. Steps program, rehabs, anonymous group, accountability, or maybe all of of the above seem to yield little to no result. It’s not our effort that drives the success, but it’s the work of God. Remember Jesus did the healing first. We can’t work out our own salvation by effort, but by power of the Spirit in us.
“continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13)
May we surrender all to Jesus, our sins, our fears, let go of our controls, our past failures, and let the transforming work of God be done in our lives.