Christian singer Micah Tyler sings a song titled “Different”. This is probably one of my favorite songs and a song that helped me through a really rough time this past year. In the beginning of the music video, he talks about a time in his life that God showed him another way to look at the song. Through pain and trial, God showed him how to be Different. He said he would ask God to change the things around him, could He stop the cancer, could you stop the storms? He was finding out the better prayer is to ask God to change him so he can handle the things around him.
We sang this song this past Sunday in Church that closed a message about change. It was a great message that encouraged us to make a list of five things we will make an effort to do daily. My list consists of things like daily prayer and reflection and time in God’s Word. These “changes” are meant to make us different than we were before. Different in a better way, to become more like Christ.
As I was listening to the message, throughout the day and this morning I couldn’t help but reflect on my past failed attempts to change. As I look back on my life, a lot of the times it was just me telling myself that I was going to do better. I would be a better person. There were a couple of times that I turned to God, but I was expecting Him to do all the work.
There are two times I can remember that really seemed to make a difference. One of those time was when I went to prison. As some of y’all know I was on the run for a while and didn’t really want to get caught. My plan was to just leave Texas and go somewhere else where I could start over and hopefully not be looking over my shoulder. I was in a hotel room on the edge of my hometown. Laying there in that room waiting for the next day so I could go say by to my parents. Not sure why that was my plan, but it was none the less. Even though I hadn’t touched meth in a few weeks, I knew the addiction was still there. I also knew that a change in location probably wasn’t going to change the person I had become. I did something I hadn’t done in a long time, I prayed. Not only did I pray but I found the Bible in the drawer and read for a little while. I asked God to intervene, to show me what I should do. Wouldn’t you know it, the next morning I got God’s answer and it wasn’t the one I wanted or expected. I got arrested and that lead to my time in prison. (Let me be perfectly clear about something before I move on, God didn’t not send me to prison! It was my poor choices that sent me to prison, God just allowed the event to unfold. And to be honest He saved my life.) I knew this was God working and embraced it. I spent the time that He gave me in His Word and a lot of reflection. The problem was that following Jesus while on the inside was so much easier than I had thought. With my arrogance I was nowhere near prepared to face the “free world”. I was only partially committed so it wasn’t long before I was consumed by the world once again once I was released from prison.
The second time was October 26, 2013; the day I had what I can only explain as my Damascus Road experience. By making the comment “God and I aren’t on speaking terms right now” to my future wife, God presented me with two options. I was at a crossroad of sorts and the decision I made at this moment was going to determine not only the rest of my life but my eternity. In my mind I was shown the two options and the end outcome. I had the choice, at that moment, to make the changes needed or to remain the same. To remain the same meant that things would only get darker. I would be drawn deeper into the darkness that I had allowed to consume me. In the end, this would result in me spending eternity separated from God in Hell. To avoid this, we needed to make changes and make them right now. Changes like eliminating the friends we had, the places we went and our “extracurricular activities”. That moment we chose to do just that. Even the drinking came to a stop and we changed.
From our past experiences with “change” we knew we needed to be all-in in order for it to work. We knew that we couldn’t only change a few things and leave the ones we liked. We needed to change everything. It wasn’t an easy thing to do but a necessary one.
I understand that some of you reading this see a stark contrast in my past life and yours. There may not be the same things in your life or in your past that consumed you. The deal is that without Christ at the center, we’re all sinners and we’re all condemned to spend eternity separated from God, in hell. To think that a person can just live a good life or just stop the “bad stuff” and do better on your own is just a lie to make ourselves feel better. To think that if the “good” that I do will cancel the bad is just another lie. If this was the case, then there was no need for Jesus and what He went through for you and me on the cross.
Jesus was very clear when he said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”. There isn’t any other way. If we die without a relationship with Jesus, then we spend eternity in hell. The next breath isn’t promised. Known of us know when God will say it’s time. Is it worth the risk to think we have plenty of time? Jesus is the only way and it is so much more than attending Church on Sunday. It’s a relationship. It’s making Jesus the King of our lives and following Him.
I will be honest; I get it wrong a lot. I am not saying that after giving Christ my entire life over 5 years ago that I instantly became perfect. I fail my Lord daily. A lot of the times more than once. He isn’t looking for perfection, He’s looking for commitment and loyalty to Him. When we get down to it, every choice is ‘what would God want me to do’ vs. ‘what would the world want me to do’. Anything outside of God is the world. It really is that simple. It is us that complicates it and creates a “grey area”. We learn God’s way by committing to Him and spending time with Him in prayer and in His Word. How can we expect to know if we don’t spend the time? To rely on someone else telling you is dangerous and could cost you.
Going into this new year I plan on making some changes. These changes will include more time in His Word and more time in prayer. What changes will you make??