Power of the Holy Spirit to Change Us!
We were visiting with friends last night sharing our own faith journeys. A similar thread but all very different paths to where we each are today. One shared his story of an "in a moment transformation" like Saul/Paul on the road being blinded by the light.....a day marked never to be the same. Another shared the walk of Peter with ebbs and flows of faith at times stepping on to water and other times marked by denying Christ by the way he lived. Our stories were different, but our hearts today very much the same....sold out! One thing we all shared was the power of the Holy Spirit to change us forever despite all of our attempts to do it on our own, and this is what tugs at my heart today.
I believe one of the mistakes that we make as new believers and as Christians mentoring new believers is that we push this idea that you are saved by Grace, but then hand them a list of things they must do to live like Christ. You are saved by Grace, yet now we bind you to all of these laws.....look like me, talk like me, act like me, think like me. And the truth is that we put way too much power in our hands to change ourselves, instead of seeking the power of God within to change us. We make all of these external changes in hopes that it will change us internally, rather than seeking the power to change us internally that would overflow into our lives externally.
For years of my life, I lived by rules don't say this or do that or eat this or drink that or be friends with them, because it is not of God. And perhaps I was living a "good" life by human standards, but I was still missing Him all the while. I traded freedom from sin to bondage to righteousness which ultimately traded one set of hand cuffs for another. Bondage just the same!
What I see now is the gradual working of the Holy Spirit in my life to change me. When I truly began living from the leading of the Spirit, it wasn't a set of rules but a prompting deep within........this doesn't fit anymore, this environment doesn't bring me joy, this "talk" makes me uncomfortable, or this doesn't edify or encourage, so what am I doing here? I indeed changed some friends and locations and desires, but there was a difference in the season of my life that I lived by rules verses allowing the Spirit to redirect me to friends that did encourage and edify, or places that brought joy not shame, or situations that allowed me to lead people to Christ not a pit. It was a change that brought me to a place of freedom, not deeper bondage.
I often teach from John 15 with the story of the vine and the branch. What I have seen in my life is that lasting change happens when the gardener (Father) does the pruning, and according to John 15 He will. The big question then becomes, will we surrender to it? Will we say, Holy Spirit work in me and Father prune me so that my life looks more like you? Prune me so that I partake in the fullness you gave your son so that I might live? Prune me so that my life is prolific for your Kingdom?
There are absolutely things that hinder our paths to freedom, but I see too often people trying in their own power to remove the "thing" only to find it short lived. However, when we rely on the power within to rewire our desires, it is permanent. Seven years ago when I went through a very hard year, I turned to the world to soothe my heart and comfort me for a season. I lived in pain and guilt and shame. But when I finally handed over the pen and said, "You take over. Take my desires and exchange them for yours! Give me a new heart! Prune me!" I was never to be the same. There have been seasons since that I thought would have taken me out, but never once did I turn to the world. Never once did I go back to a life that He brought me out of, because the change was permanent, because it was of Him not me.
The power of the Holy Spirit working within us is for all of us. Freedom is for all that seek it! But we have to stop trying to make things happen....of course we do our part, if you are handing over the bottle, it would be best not to make home in a bar, but we trust He changes that desire within us. He takes it and replaces it with His desires for us! If we struggle with infidelity, we certainly don't open ourselves up to situations that would cause us to stumble, but we hand over our divided heart and allow Him to restore it. He will! We are intentional to do our part on our path to freedom, but we trust not in our own power to have lasting change, but in the power that resides within to make all things new.
We can say we believe, but transformation happens when we don't just say it, but mean it!
We should all get to a place where we can look in the mirror and say....
I love the woman that I am becoming not because of who I am or what I have done, but simply because He lives in me, and I have finally gotten it enough to get out of the way and allow Him to show himself through me.
Where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom, and we with unveiled faces begin to radiate His glory.
2 Cor 3:17-18
Who are you becoming? I pray that He enlightens your heart to the hope of your calling so that you see that you were born for freedom, and a woman unveiled wears it well!
Seek. Love. Follow.
In His Wings, Ro