Let’s face it, any life worth living requires growth, change, and sacrifice. But when I look at the expanse between where I am and where I need to be, the width of the canyon can be pretty overwhelming. This is true in so many arenas of my life:
- The husband I need to be to Mandy vs. the husband I am today.
- The father I need to be to my 8 year old son vs. the father I am today.
- The leader I need to be for my company vs. the leader I am today.
- The christian God’s Word calls me to be vs. the christian I am today.
It doesn’t take much prodding for me to start obsessing over my shortcomings. Even when I can successfully hide them from you, they remain my (not-so) quiet companions. In your honest moments, I bet the same is true for you, too.
So our (virtual) bookshelves fill up with self-help manuals and discipleship manifestos. Good things that generate new ideas and inspiration for change…
- 10 steps to better parenting
- Hollywood’s hidden secret for washboard abs
- 7 tips for improving your prayer life
- The pathway to courageous leadership
…and so begins our next inspired adventure to find the epic hero we’re convinced lives deep inside.
But somewhere along these constantly recurring journeys, we discover we may not be as heroic as we originally hoped. That even where we’ve managed to will some sort of positive change, the distance between where we remain and where we need to be really hasn’t shrunk all that much.
The truth is, the kind of change we’re searching for doesn’t come from increased knowledge, self-discipline, and moral striving. We need something a whole lot more powerful than that.
I grew up in a great family and at a solid church that preached Jesus as the only way to true life. But somewhere along the line, in a human-degredation that I believe comes quite naturally to all of us, this is how I internalized (and lived) the Gospel message:
Most of us (that call ourselves Christians) had no problem trusting Jesus for that moment of salvation. But if you’re at all like me (no Vulcans among us, right?), the whole concept of “Christian Living” instinctively rests squarely on my shoulders – my will, my discipline, my effort. Accept the gift, then learn the rules, dig deep, and get to it right? Jesus gets me started, I will get me finished.
This shift of focus leads to one of two unfortunate outcomes. Those of us that find some semblance of “success” (at least by comparison) begin to puff up with self-righteousness and pride. The rest of us just end up frustrated, and either angrily walk away from the faith, or quietly learn to live with the exhaustion and shame. Ever been there?
But I’ve got some Good News for you worn out moms, overwhelmed business leaders, regret-filled husbands, and guilt-ridden christians. Jesus last words on the cross weren’t “Let’s get it started!” (The Black Eyed Peas hadn’t hit the charts in first century Jerusalem).
He declared “It is finished!”
The gift of the Gospel doesn’t just begin the journey, it is the power that moves me from where I am to where I need to be. It’s not just a template for change, it’s the power to change. The grace of God works things into our lives that we could never do for ourselves (Gal. 3:5). Everyday. Not just the first day.
From where you are to where you need to be. Good News.