The following column is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of The Georgia Virtue.
By: Dr. William F. Holland Jr., minister, chaplain, and author of the column series ‘Living on Purpose’. You can read more about the Christian life and see other works by Dr. Holland at billyhollandministries.com
We are deep into January and I hope the New Year resolutions you made are still going strong. The most popular declarations usually involve better eating habits and exercise into our daily routines. For those of you that have been doing this for a while, my hat is off to you because you have something in your conscience that is immensely powerful called willpower! There are several impressive keywords associated with self-discipline like, perseverance, determination, and dedication which reveals the evidence that you do not allow your feelings to dictate how you live. It’s admirable when anyone chooses to put in the hard work necessary to have a healthier body and even more amazing to see a person surrender their will in order to make a stronger spiritual connection with God.
When contemplating lifestyle changes, it’s crucial to have a clear vision as to who we want to be and what we will need to do. The passage in Luke 14:28-30 comes to mind when planning to do something that will have a major impact on who we are. Jesus said, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, this person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” Whether physical or spiritual, personal transformation is possible, but no one has ever said it will be easy. Resolutions and decrees do not cost us anything and are nothing more than a whim until the sacrificial process has been accepted and embraced within our conscience. Likewise, just talking about being religious is also painless as true spiritual renewal begins with an internal conviction from God and then demonstrating what it means to take up our cross. Whatever the case, the evidence of progress is always noticed. God changes caterpillars into butterflies, coal into diamonds, and sand into pearls, using time and pressure and this is exactly what He wants to do within us in order to produce an image of His glory.
As we study the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:10, Jesus is talking to His Father and says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We may not think about it often, but understanding what He wants from us and choosing to do it is the purpose and meaning of life. It’s His world and by His grace we are given an opportunity to know and love Him. This is also where we see a separation of the talkers and walkers when it comes to inviting Christ to be our king and leading us in all that we think and in everything we do. You see, we have a choice to draw our own blueprints or follow the ones He has already made. Obedience is not a popular word because no one wants to be told what to do and yet submitting to His voice is at the heart of what it means to have a personal relationship with Him. We have a lot of ideas and ask for many things, but it’s wise to make sure we recognize the difference between our imaginations and His instructions.
Maybe the reason we struggle in our spiritual life is that we are fighting God for the steering wheel. If we let Him drive, I believe we would be more likely to enjoy the ride, don’t you? Is there such a thing as counting it all joy when the blacksmith is holding us in the fire and shaping us with His hammer? I’m not saying it’s pleasant, but I believe this is possible when we realize that Jesus is making us into what He died for us to be. When the blacksmith is finished with his piece, he does not throw it in the corner and forget about it. He has worked hard to produce his vision and intends to use it for his specific purpose. Likewise, God is calling us and wanting to shape us into a strong and effective instrument. He has known you before the foundation of the world and desires to use you as a vessel of honor. The Lord loves you more than anything and is patiently waiting, but He will never be able to build your life from His plans until your determination to change becomes stronger than your desire to remain the same.