September 7, 2012 - Changing Me
By Geff Mastro
I’ve been reading through the Psalms recently about all the things that God is. I’ve been reminded that God is a great God! He’s a wonderful God! He’s the God of the morning and the God of the evening! He’s our stronghold! Our fortress! Our deliverer! Amen!
Perhaps, like me, you have learned these truths during a lifetime growing up in church. Perhaps, like me, you’ve discovered there is a big difference between proclaiming these truths during an average day and desperately clinging to them when you’re in the darkness or going through a storm. We often talk about our attitude determining our altitude and keeping the right perspective, but when we see a giant tidal wave bearing down at breakneck speed it often has a way of obscuring our perspective.
Recently, I was dealt some devastating news. Something that was going to affect our whole family; something that as a father and husband I was unable to have any control over or change in any way. And at that time, somehow, those nice Christian phrases I learned in church about who God is just didn’t seem to be enough.
So, like everyone else, I prayed. “God take this away.” “Change my circumstances.” “I rebuke it in Jesus name!!!” (I added the exclamation points because if I yell it louder, sometimes I think the devil hears it better or gets more scared.) But despite my yelling, nothing seemed to change.
I received an email today about the times of darkness when God seems far away, and I was reminded that God doesn’t always take us out of our circumstances. Rather, He uses them to teach us and change us so we can become more like Him and see things in the way He wants us to. Or, as Sister Helen used to say, “The older I get the more convinced I am that Jesus is less concerned about changing my circumstances and more concerned about changing me.”
God wants a relationship with us ... but it has to be on His terms. He isn’t the One who has to change and be refined. We are. And the process to get there isn’t always clean and pretty, the way we sugarcoat it in church. Sometimes it’s dirty and muddy, and downright uncomfortable. But we only become what He wants us to be through obedience and submitting ourselves to Him, not the other way around.
Let’s face it; we’re not immune from suffering in life. Even Jesus had to go through suffering as He obeyed the Father (Hebrews 5:8). We go through suffering so God can teach us and we can grow into the unique and individual children He wants us to be in relationship with Him.
It’s just that sometimes, those changes cannot come if He takes us out of the storm.
— Geff Mastro lives in Burlington County, N.J., and is a licensed counselor and school psychologist. He attends Fountain of Life Center (AG) in Burlington, N.J.