Lately I have been learning how to drive the dreaded stick shift! I hoped and prayed this day would never come. I have been very comfortable driving sweet automatic cars all my life. Then, I decided to move to a part of the world where manual driving is the standard, and for long trips, the best vehicles my work has to drive are manual. So, as I prepare for a long trip in just a few weeks, I have got to learn to drive this thing. Boy has it been humbling, frustrating, and challenging, but as I continue to try and to grow, I am thankful for this emerging skills and these fresh eyes I have to see driving in a whole new way.
I started thinking about this message of freshness, and although it has not been easy to embark on something new, something I know I am not good at, what would it be like if I approached other areas of my life with a fresh attitude, open to learning, experiencing, being vulnerable, and conquering fears. I believe freshness is part of the Gospel message. God has freed us from sin, which has hung over our heads since birth. He sets us free to have a fresh start on life. However, our journey as Christians does not end there. Though we are free to live a life away from sin, we often choose to go back to our old ways and are in need of God’s renewing spirit again and again.
The Psalmist proclaims the good news in chapter 34 verse 22,
“The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”
God is our redeemer, he takes our punishment and replaces it with His new life. We must come back to Him, to know deeply how much we need freshness to break through our old habits and unhealthy behaviors that are not in line with our new lives in Christ.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” Psalm 37:5-6
Those are such beautiful words, but often difficult to put into practice. How do we commit our ways to the Lord? What does it look like to trust him in everyday life? How do we live in such a way that we show we believe this message?
For me, it often starts with prayer. I may be troubled with a feeling of how things are, knowing that there is something in my life that is not fully committed to him. I must ask for fresh eyes to see my heart. Talk to God and listen to where he is leading me.
God searches and knows me, and wants to reveal to me ways that I can draw closer to him and align my life with who he is. He knows the secrets of my heart that need to be revealed and reworked. And sometimes it will feel like I am driving a manual car for the first time. It will be awkward and bumpy and embarrassing as these dark things come to the surface. But ultimately, if I am trusting Him to lead the way, He will make things right, He will bring about righteousness in me.
Sometimes this means that God will work in us to teach us a new skill, a new way of doing things, and before we know it, we will be driving manual all the way to Southern Province to see His glory at Victoria Falls. Other times, we are never truly comfortable, and though God shows us secret areas of our heart that need mending, but instead of getting rid of it, God uses it to help us continually lean and trust in him.
You may be familiar with Paul’s quote about his own struggles and weakness in 2 Corinthians,
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 12:8-9
Wow. Thank goodness.
I am not the only one that struggles. You are not alone if you feel like you have something similar in your life that you have prayed for the Lord to take away. Just because it is still there, or you are still working through it, doesn’t mean God has left you. He is still leading you toward His righteousness and he is using your struggle to bring gory to his name.
Take a look at your struggles and your strengths with fresh eyes. How does the Lord want to use what you have been given to draw others closer to him? What is something new He wants to teach you? What is something you are wrestling with that can draw you closer to Him?
May we take a look at our hearts with fresh eyes. May we take a look at one another with fresh eyes. And may we battle alongside one another to bring about His kingdom in new ways and in new places here on earth.
Where is God challenging you to see with fresh eyes?