Originally published Tuesday, 31 January 2017.
You may be familiar with the stories in Exodus when Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt. I have read the stories many times myself, learned them in Sunday School and in sermon messages. But today when I read about the plague of the frogs, something jumped off the page.
Making hard changes was also on my mind.
God gave Moses the directive to go to Pharaoh and ask for freedom for the Israelites. But the Bibles says that God gave Pharaoh a hard heart as well during all the plagues. Pharaoh refuses to release, Moses continues his pleas.
God compassionately relented with each plague before the next one hit. It wasn't until God struck down all the first born, did Pharaoh realize that God was the real God, and Moses was a man of his word.
What did I learn about hard changes?
Sin can be like the plagues or piles of "deadness" in the corners of our lives. We make decisions based on what is good for us and what pleases us. Then habits soon form and honestly we get a little lazy in following through. Don't we tend to think of rules as just that something to follow but optional if we don't feel like following them?
When I was reading the story of the plagues and how Moses persistently beseeched Pharaoh, it occurred to me how sometimes we make what the Bible says optional or we bring up as a correcting point but rarely follow through because it requires something from us to follow through. Would it be true that we often allow some "dead" or unfruitful things in our lives as a comfort or reward?
Often I've found myself hiding out behind piles of fear, pride, bitterness, lust, anger, or disobedience...whatever the plague is, that's held me back from obeying God's directives in my life. Once my heart softened to His Voice however, I simply removed those fruitless habits to experience God's best life.
With the new year and the "new things" that we want to accomplish, I believe that God doesn't want to redress our lives for comfort and convenience but asks us to allow all newness of His mercy and grace make a difference in our behavior, habits, and changes. Give up what's causing a stench in your life, or some habit that is tearing you down or dragging back you to backslide. He prefers a whole new year for you rather than redressing something that feels right. We are rendered ineffective when we allow change only as a fad, trend or convenience.
God's best isn't an "optional" commitment, it's a full time, all in, 27/4 daily surrender to commit to following His ways and thriving on how the Bible says to live. After all, God is committed to each of us until the very end. Jesus took care of that on the cross and dealt it the death blow, so why do we still try to fix ourselves when it's our perspective that needs to change?
Often Jesus changed the perspective of the sick, diseased, the Pharisees, the disciples, the multitudes of the hungry, and thirsty, and the blind, the lepers before He healed them. Our sin causes a stench in Heaven, that's why Jesus came to take all that. Maybe you aren't aware.... but bad habits are hidden everywhere and a big place to hide a bunch of negatives is in the mind!
The best course of action I've taken is to cut them out completely. Yes, hard. But it does get easier over time when making one at a time. I've found it's better to rid yourself of these bad habits over trying to resist them for a time. It's harder to share space with something that will eventually start plaguing your life again. But be assured that when mess ups happen (and they do because we are human) God comes in quickly and is ever ready with HIS clean up crew.