I sit down, journal and pencil in hand, and start scribbling down all of my problems. I fill the pages with troubles in my relationships with people, drama at work, insecurities that I suffer from, and so on.
Then I cry out to God, "Change me! I'm sick of who I am! Just transform me into the woman of God you created me to be."
Thinking that I've heard Him speak, I write down lists and formulas of ways to get rid of my problems.
I write, "Stop comparing yourself with other woman to combat jealousy," or "Don't talk about yourself all of the time to fight pride."And them I attempt to put these points into action.
But there's a problem.
The focus is still on me and my sin, not on grace and the love of God.
You see, transformation is more about the working of God in our lives than trying to fix ourselves.
It's looking beyond ourselves to the face of God and to the needs of others.
This is clearly outlined in Matthew 22:37-39:
"Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.'"When we become outwardly focused instead of inwardly focused, God works from the inside out to cleanse us of our impurity.
Instead of focusing on weeding out the sin instead of us by ourselves, let's work on these two things:
1. Fix your eyes on Jesus - Are you more aware of the problems in your life than Jesus, who has already conquered death itself? Are you consumed with worry? Then maybe it's time to shift your gaze. Spend time with the Lord in your free time and allow Him to lavish His love on you and show you how much He cares for you. Let Him show you that you can trust Him, and that there is complete peace when we rest in His arms. Even though there isn't full clarity with trust, it's the cloudiness that keeps us rooted in Him and walking by faith.
2. Love others - When you go about your day, are you so in tune with your own schedule and "to-do" list that you couldn't budge to go out of your way for someone else? Do you spend all of your free time by yourself investing in your own personal hobbies rather than branching outward and seeing what other people enjoy doing? It's so easy to get wrapped up in our own needs and wants, and it's especially easy to cling to a routine. But focusing on our own desires can draw us away from the needs of others. Maybe there's a man on the side of the road you walk past every day that is crying out for help and you ignore him every time. It could be time to reach out to him and offer him a dollar, a sandwich or a word of encouragement. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and when Jesus walked this earth, he never ignored the cries of the needy. God's heart beats for justice, and justice is ultimately love.
Let's become people who are so focused on seeking Jesus and loving others, that there is no room for pride or bitterness or insecurity.
The grace of God will flush out the brokenness in you, but only when you give up and say you can't do it by yourself anymore. Striving is not an activity in God's kingdom.
So let go. Let go of your own strength, because God defends those who are weak, not those who think they are strong enough themselves. Fix your eyes on Jesus, and let Him refine your sight so you can see the needs of others. And through this newfound vision, reach out in love. Wash someone's dishes. Pay for someone's coffee. Mow someone's lawn. Buy someone's textbooks.
Whatever form it takes place in, love is always the answer. Because God is love. And love transforms people.