I’ve found that God’s comfort isn’t so much about soothing my hurt (although He does do that) as it is about helping me soar to new heights. Accomplishing, through His ability, far more than I can possibly imagine. I would never have dreamed I would go to Uganda 6 times, or write books. “Who, me?” And God said, “Yes, you!” But I had to make some changes.
Last week I wrote about soaring like an eagle as we allow God to adjust our thinking patterns. Our thinking patterns are like the key travel routes through the desert. The desert represents those areas of life where we have been wounded, even in small ways, and we are stuck. Like the desert, these patterns are dry and unproductive. But God enables us to soar like an eagle, rising above it all because of what Christ has accomplished for us.
But I hate change
Making personal changes is so uncomfortable. Even terrifying. We forget that God keeps us close to His heart and fully gets how and why we are stuck. Words and experiences can bind us up inside and reduce us to a fraction of what God fashioned us to be. God not only knows what we’ve experienced, but He experiences it with us. He invites us to listen and allow Him to comfort us and to help us.
A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3 (NASB)
How can we make changes we really have no desire to make? First, by acknowledging our thinking patterns need to change. Change involves moving from Point A to Point B in some way and we often resist the very idea. That’s really kind of crazy because we don’t recognize that we deal with many changes daily. Some are actually delightful, such as the cooler fall weather we are enjoying now in the Midwest. Some are annoying but manageable, such as route detours or store inventory that has been rearranged. Other changes we totally resist. Perhaps we have tried hard before and failed. Perhaps we refused to see the need in the first place.
God knows how difficult change is for us
How does God invite us to change our thinking? Perhaps some words we hear from a boss, a spouse of a friend challenge us. Perhaps a life circumstance highlights a needed change. Perhaps a teaching or sermon.
May I ask you some questions to help you begin to recognize where change might be needed?
How have your thought patterns made life hopeful for you? Helped you accomplish dreams you had? How have they removed a sense of worthlessness or guilt or shame? How have they conquered the fear that holds you back? The answers to those questions are the clues to the changes God may be inviting you to make. He invites you in unconditional love to make change in those areas because those positions were never His plan for you. He loves us enough to draw us toward a closer relationship with the One who loves us most and is best equipped to help us succeed.
Chosen and not rejected
Last week I talked about Judah (Jacob’s clan) and the mess they were in. Yet God comforted them. God reminded Judah of the problem of their refusal to listen to Him and then He offered comfort. He called them to make way for Him. In other words, to clear out the rubble of thought patterns that where hindering. He invited Jacob to change. Can Jacob really change?
“But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend, 9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you.” Isaiah 41:8-9 (NASB)
In this passage, God addresses Israel and Jacob. Israel reflects how God sees them and Jacob portrays how they are thinking and acting. It literally applies to the nations with two identities but one original nation. It also applies to us if we consider at it as though God is addressing, not two people, but one person with two different identities. Much like God sees you and me one way, but we think and act in some other way.
Israel means a “prince with God,” one that God chose and then equipped to fulfill God’s purpose for the nation. Jacob, on the other hand, was a deceiver and a very flawed parent. Jacob means “supplanter,” referring to taking both the birthright and the blessing from his older brother, Esau, by treacherous actions. Yet, God refers to him as a descendent of Abraham to remind him of the purpose God gave Abraham for the Israelite people. (Genesis 12:1-3)
God asserted that Jacob was chosen. Still chosen even though they are about to be soundly defeated by an enemy and taken captive. Chosen to do what God purposed in spite of their failures. CHOSEN AND NOT REJECTED.
God’s response to trepidation
If God had addressed Jacob as an individual, I imagine Jacob might have responded with something like, “What? Seriously? I’m still chosen? I have no idea how to do this, God! You don’t really think I can do what You’ve planned, do You? I’m a mess!” After telling them they were chosen and not rejected, God gave an incredible promise.
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)
We might say something very much like Jacob might have said. And God graciously us offers His help as well.
How can we expect God’s help when we need to change?
You don’t need to be afraid. I am with you. If we agree with God that He sees His purpose can be accomplished in us, then we do not need to be afraid. That can be a significant change to our thinking pattern. Nevertheless, He is with us. He has demonstrated with many other people that He is the strongest, most capable, insightful, caring protector and guide we can possibly have.
Don’t look around anxiously. I am God. God, Elohim, the Creator and Ruler and Judge. What is so special about this particular name of God when we must change? The one who creates, who hung the stars and moves them in the same orbits for thousands of years, can and will provide everything we need. That’s His promise., His absolute commitment. When we are changing anything, the process can feel so out of control, when uncertainty threatens to undo us, He is Ruler and has it under control. He is Judge: when we wrestle with condemnation over failures or weaknesses, He never condemns but rescues and loves because Jesus took the judgment penalty for us.
I will strengthen you. He will help us have the courage to make the change and will confirm the change is the right choice. He will give us the strength to stick with it.
I will help you. He gives aid to us. Right now, much aid is being sent to victims of the hurricane in North Carolina where people were flooded and isolated away from home. What a helpless feeling. No real ability to care for themselves. The aid is critical to sustaining them and it is coming. What a perfect picture of God aiding us. We often don’t know where it comes from but it comes, especially when we feel helpless. The perfect help we need at just the right time.
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. In His strength, He supports us when we falter because He is faithful to keep all His promises. We can always count on Him in change He asks us to make.
Change seems so scary. Help!
Let’s go back to the questions I asked earlier. How have your thought patterns conquered the fear that holds you back? How have they removed a sense of worthlessness or guilt or shame? How have they made life hopeful for you? Helped you accomplish dreams you had? (photo by Carol)
The answers to those questions are the clues to the changes you need to allow God to help you make. He invites you to make change in those areas because those positions were never His plan for you. These areas portray the way we see ourselves. God invites us to change so we reflect who He fashioned us to be, to be who He truthfully thinks we are.
The answers to the questions are found over time as we turn to God’s wisdom. He made us uniquely to accomplish the purpose He has for us. And He best knows how to help us change and soar. Ponder these examples:
What God says when we succumb to fear: For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT2)
When we feel like shame and worthlessness are all there is for us: “Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood.” Isaiah 54:4 (NLT2)
When we think we are utterly hopeless: Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles. Zechariah 9:12 (NLT2)
What does soaring look like to God? Accomplishing infinitely more than we can imagine! Are you willing to make changes in thinking patterns so you can soar? Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 (NLT2)
Carol Boggess, author and speaker
Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts