Ever go through a season where you need change? Maybe you rearrange your furniture. Maybe you chop your hair. Maybe you look for a new job. Recently I’ve found myself wanting some habits in my life to change but feeling frustrated when week after week they did not. My husband read a book recently that challenged the routine of life. The author made the point that no one will change your life for you. You are the only one that can author the changes. I know that is not a radical new concept that the world has never heard before. We’ve all probably heard that 100 times over. However, this time it stuck with me and has brought substantial change in the areas that I’ve applied it.
It started with my devotions. This past year, consistent devotional times were really hard to accomplish when Eliza was a newborn. As she got older, the inconsistency continued because it was easier to keep my life the same than find ways to make changes. I said more times than I can count that I needed to get back in the Word. I included it in my daily to do list, and although that did help a little bit, my consistency was still poor.
It wasn’t until I finally faced the cold reality that there was no excuse I could offer that would be sufficient. I wasn’t doing my quiet time regularly because I wasn’t making time for it. No amount of “I need to’s” or “I’ll get back in the Word tomorrows” would change that. No one was going to wave a magic wand and give me 25 hours in a day instead of 24.
So, I’m doing the changing. I’m re-arranging priorities. I’m initiating changes in my life instead of waiting for my life to change. For me, it started with my goals for my quiet times, and it has now expanded to goals for personal growth. I have found that as I initiate the changes with the “small” goals, my “big” goals don’t seem as far off.
So let me ask you the question that I’ve been asking myself recently …. What’s stopping you from making the change?
The ongoing debate on Charlottesville has been heavy on my heart, and I will be the first to say I don’t have all the answers, but I do hope to bring perhaps a different perspective on a couple areas : the argument regarding the appropriateness of removing Confederate statues and the Christian’s need for equality in press coverage.
There is a voice that says history is history- the Confederate statues simply reflect that there was a war against tyrannical federal government and slavery was a small part of the war- almost an afterthought. I would simply ask that one review the historical context of the Civil War. For myself, my family, and the students I work with, statues of Confederate generals do not remind us of States Rights but rather slavery.
To say that we should simply accept history, and move on, sounds logical, but isn’t. Obviously we can’t change history, but as Christians, we continually weigh if it was right or not. If we should simply accept history, then why are Christians still fighting to end abortion in this country? Roe v Wade made it part of our history, but we don’t accept that neutrally (nor should we). We also cannot deny the impact that (now) years of the sin of abortion has brought on our country from morality, to economy, to missed contributions by the millions aborted, etc.… we are living in the effects of the sin. The same is true for slavery- yes, it’s part of our past, but as Christians, we must understand the effects of that sin on our nation and that it still affects us (all of us) today.
In my experience, if a town has a stand-alone statue of a historical figure it is because they are honoring that figure. I understand that General Lee exhibited great leadership qualities, but he also led the fight for a grave sin. How are we really learning from our past if we honor the man who championed the war to continue one of America’s greatest sins? I think most conservative Christians do not support abortion nor do they want a statue of Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood) in their town. I know if a statue of Margaret Sanger was raised in my town, I would not go visit it as a chance to learn about history- even though she could also be considered a great leader considering what she accomplished (even if one disagrees with it). Why is it different for those who fought for slavery? Personally, I find it hard to defend one but not the other.
In my opinion, removing a statue that serves to honor a man who fought for slavery is not erasing history rather it’s acknowledging that there is a deep rooted sin of hatred and arrogance derived from slavery (also when you take into consideration many of the monuments of the Confederate Generals were erected years later as the Jim Crow era in our country was beginning). Our monuments if constructed correctly, will acknowledge the past and the sin of our past, so we can learn from it without honoring the sin.
In regards to the second issue- something my husband and I learned early on in our relationship is that a sincere apology means owning what we did wrong. It means nothing to my husband if I treated him like dirt all day, and then at the end of the day, he says to me, “I don’t appreciate how you spoke with me today” but my response is “I’m sorry you’re in a bad mood and didn’t like how I treated you. We both are at fault for today.”
Actually, no, we are not. I am, and it matters that I acknowledge that. Obviously, my right to disagree with my husband’s opinion hasn’t been taken away, but if my right is my focus, then I have failed in my relationship with my husband.
On an infinitely grander scale with grave consequences, the same is true for Christians unwillingness to admit when there’s an issue but rather to be so consumed with how our rights are being preserved. I can’t count the number of blogs, articles, and posts I have seen where the point was to discuss media bias, improper coverage, or real causes of Charlottesville rather than to simply join hands with our brothers and sisters, mourn the loss of life, the devaluing of humanity, and the open hatred for people made in the image of God. I fear we are losing a great battle to show our nation Christians care more for people than the press.
In conclusion, John 13:35 says the world will know us by our love- but can we say that is true of us in the recent past? If someone has read everything I’ve posted, heard every conversation I have had, and watched every action I’ve taken, will they walk away knowing that more than anything else I love Jesus and love people? Because, if there is any other perception, I am not living the life Jesus asks of me.
I question God the most when good prayer requests are given a hard no. When I take a step of faith to find I’m falling flat. When reality contradicts God’s promises. When I fight for truth but see evil win.
In those moments, I’m left questioning if I’m a fool, a failure, or a combination of the two.
Earlier this month, I was reading through the book of Judges. In Judges 19, we find the particularly gruesome account of the assault and murder of a young woman by a group of men from the Tribe of Benjamin. The rest of Israel rises with righteous indignation and demands that the Tribe of Benjamin turn over the guilty men so that they can be punished. Sadly, however, Benjamin protects the evil men rather than punishing them.
So, Israel marches to battle the Tribe of Benjamin. They march for justice. For righteousness. For goodness. Israel gathers its troops collectively then asks God which tribe should fight Benjamin first. God sends Judah first.
It’s the first day of battle. Israel fights for God. Benjamin fights for sin.
Benjamin wins. By a landslide. 22,000 fallen soldiers to be exact.
Sinful, evil, selfish Benjamin won.
Israel weeps before the Lord. Asking if they should fight again. God sends them to battle again.
It’s the second day of battle. Israel fights for God. Benjamin fights for sin.
Benjamin wins, again. By another landslide. 18,000 more fallen soldiers.
Sinful, evil, selfish Benjamin won again.
At this point in the narrative, Judges 20:26 tells us this:
Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord.
Israel asks God again if they should fight. God sends them to battle again.
Israel had fought the exact same battle twice already. Israel lost the exact same battle twice already. As I read this story, I was overwhelmed with the courage and strength of Israel in these moments. Here they were fighting for a righteous cause- one that the Lord told them to fight for, and they were answered with resounding losses. Stunning defeats. Not once but twice. It’s so incredibly hard for me to try again after a failure, but Israel did so. And failed. Now God was telling them to try a third time.
Maybe God knew that it would take both failures for all of Israel, the whole army, to seek the Lord. God wasn’t satisfied with a partial response. He was willing to wait for the entirety of Israel to acknowledge their dependence on God alone.
In my spirit, I couldn’t help but recognize that maybe God lets me keep failing until all of me is willing to acknowledge my dependence on God alone. Rarely do I start a battle, or prayer, or plan with a pure motivation and absolutely surrendered spirit.
One more thing struck me as I started reading again. This time, when God told them to fight again, He followed the command to fight with a promise of victory in this battle.
It about jumped off the page at me.
This was the first time God promised victory. God had commanded them to fight the past two times knowing they would lose. Yet, He still commanded them to fight.
Will He not do the same with me?
Sometimes, God will send me into battle knowing I will lose. Sometimes God will say no to a good and right prayer request… more than once. My disappointment and frustration with God lies in the fact that I misunderstood the command to fight with a promise of victory. I believe them to be the same, but they are most definitely not.
God’s promise of victory will come after He has molded me into the soldier He designed me to be- one that depends on God alone for instruction and promise.
Maybe His changing me is actually part of the victory.
About Holly's Blog
Holly loves to write, and you'll find her blog covers all different topics!