I think our lives as children would have been so much easier if our parents did just this one thing. When I was little I always thought, if Mom and Dad could just do this one thing, I’d listen to whatever they say. If they could just explain WHY every time they told us to do or not to do something, it didn’t even have to be a good reason, I’d be satisfied.
I think our Christian journey is much like our growing as a child. When we receive Jesus, we are given a chance to redeem a new life, in “Christian-ese” we call it being born again. And now suddenly we’re tossed into this new family (church) with new expectations. And suddenly there are new guidelines and boundaries, not necessarily something we signed up for. And we start striving to be good and good-er. Because now God is our dad. But if you’re anything like me, this ideal ends right about here. Why? Why do we have to follow Jesus and Paul and the teachings of the church? Jesus thanks for the new life, thanks for giving me birth into your family – but, I’m not so enthusiastic about your ideals. Your values, your direction. I think I know better about running my own life. You probably relate this to your parents, right? Thank you for giving me birth mom, dad. But I don’t need your rules, I don’t need your standards. Your rules just keep me from having fun.
Even up to last year, my life was a constant struggle – God’s way or my way? Q.T. or facebook? Ministry or video games? Prayer or pizza? Go to house church or stay in my bed? And it’s not that I didn’t want to pray or do Q.T. – but compared to everything else in life, school, food, Instagram, Jesus just took a lower priority. I didn’t know why prayer could be more important than my social reputation. I couldn’t see how reading about ancient people in the bible could solve my financial debt. Serving is cool, and prayer looks alright – but how is that going to help me get a job? God’s way seemed irrelevant, inefficient, and old-fashioned. But I took New Life bible study – and it did one very important thing – it told me why. It answered my question of WHY we serve, who we are and why it’s important to live by these guidelines. It was exactly what I needed. It changed my perspective on the purpose of my life. I changed my thinking. I changed my worldview. I changed my values. I began to see who I was through the eyes of Jesus. And perspectives lead to thoughts, which leads to action, which leads to habits, which ultimately leads to destiny. God has been changing my heart from the start of this year and New Life class solidified it. Once I knew the true purpose of prayer, of ministry and spending time with God – was able to take to heart seriously and start applying them in my life.
And as I began to devote more of myself to God’s purpose for my life, I’ve been seeing more evidence of God’s activity in my life. In the morning as I fill myself with God and his spirit, the promise of self-control and discipline keeps me aligned to his peace. I’ve never been busier in my life. I work, I volunteer, I’m involved in ministry and I go to school but I’m so peaceful. I’m not stressed like I was in the past. It’s easier to reach out first and apologize, and take responsibility for my actions. During and after new life I’ve made several phone calls, reconciling with people I had hurt in the past. Serving is becoming more of a joy and less of a burden. My relationships with others have been flourishing. Prayer is not a monologue, but a conversation. God helped me climb out of debt and now financially I’ve been more generous, and I believe God has been providing. I write down every single penny I spend in my ledger, and a quick review showed that my spending for other people increased about 400%, and over spending for myself decreased. I was able to let go of my 7-year long gaming addiction. Not that gaming is bad, but as God showed me the wonderful life I was called to live, I realized that gaming took away my time from the people around me – and I didn’t want that anymore. I’m happier, so much more content because my life feels significant and purposeful. I’ve been able to let go of more and more past wounds and baggage. Christian life is actually enjoyable. I attribute all this to Jesus Christ, who I am not ashamed to call my Lord.
Of course, that’s the highlight reel. Do I still get stressed sometimes? Yes. Did all of my unhealthy old habits completely disappeared? No. But I know this – I have definitely changed for the better. New Life helped kick start a new season of spiritual growth and maturity because it convinced me to change my perspective. And with my new perspective I’ve been making better choices, and fewer regrets.