Faith is a journey to be walked through and out. It is exciting and scary all at the same time. Being transformed is not automatic when you bump into God. I have concluded that there is a process of transformation we will all go through as we walk through life with God. If our change was automatic then we would miss out on getting to know God in a personal way and it would be more like a magic show. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17. Gods voice to us is for our benefit and to be life giving and growing. Transformation comes by hearing God and then doing what He says.
I was recently in a situation that I felt I couldn’t go through and didn’t know if I had the ability to cope in myself. As I lay in my bed in the middle of the night praying (asking God what to do) a small quiet inner voice said “you can if you let me lead you through.” I said thanks went to sleep peacefully and I am now working with God each to let him lead me. Every other voice or opinion is not important as I am walking it out with God now. It is a much easier ride.
Often trying to avoid discomfort at all costs we step away from painful or difficult situations in life. We avoid difficult people, places, memories that are going to push the buttons of discomfort. What we can learn from the life of first century Christians is that they embraced hardship and went about facing difficulties with a frame of mind “Being strong in Christ” and having a solider like way of being 1 Timothy 2.
It would be true to say that we don’t know what’s on the inside of us until we are challenged. There have been times when under pressure a darker side of my will pop up which never ceases to amaze me. I then take that darker unhelpful side of me to the cross and lay it down at Jesus feet in doing so I am discovering the next layer of transformation and humility. As I surrender God can come and do His work in my body, mind and spirit. In that way God uses our life journey to bring transformation. We are people of many layers so it takes time and patience with ourselves. Difficult life situations can be turned around for good as God uses them as a pathway to heal and restore us into Christlikeness. Transformation is not automatic it requires us to walk it out and win the battle.
Someone said those few words “look after yourself” and those few words have had me thinking for a few weeks about how we do that and the why we need to do it. I have discovered that when we look after ourselves we are then able to give love to others.
Love comes in many shapes and expressions. It is really up to us how much we access the ability to love from inside our hearts to then propel outward toward others. I think like many other things in life to flow in the ability to love is a choice we daily make. Some days we may have to choose to love ourselves first so that we can then love others.
Loving ourselves requires intentional awareness that the need is there to refuel or as the popular phrase reveals “have some me time.” This can be extremely difficult when under a lot of pressure and have a busy life. It will be the last thing you want or feel like doing but without the “me time” we will spiral and be no good for anything or anyone. It may not be appropriate to book a luxury spa or holiday or even hang out partying with friends in fact those things can produce guilt if you are. I find going for a walk alone down the street for thirty minutes can be amazing or finding a quite space and sit and read a book for ten minutes. I always carry a book with me for that reason.
I remember when my friend was very ill and dying in hospital many years ago at the time I was still in the party scene and thought I would let off steam by going out with a bunch of friends. It was the last thing I needed to be doing. I only ended up feeling ashamed and full of guilt. That wasn’t flowing in the ability to love either myself or anyone else. I learned a lesson that day of what was needed and what wasn’t.
We can have the ability to choose to love or not. The biggest challenge will come when there is a personal cost with it. I am not speaking of a financial cost although sometimes that is required, but rather the cost of time, energy a letting go of our own desires to put someone else first; that kind of cost. Jesus called this “loving your neighbour as yourself.”
Jesus often spoke about giving to those who can’t repay you or say thank you is actually really important. I have come to realise it is through those acts of love and kindness that our hearts are opened, our character is tested and formed and our skill set is developed and we gain strength on the inside. No personal challenge no personal growth. I don’t think there is any course that can teach you how to love. This one comes through opening our hearts to God and others and putting aside our own selfish desires. Then leaning into Christ we begin to understand the meaning of “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbour as yourself’ Mark 12:30-31
Remember to love yourself too in the midst of loving others.