15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinner–of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
–1 Timothy 1:15-16
You know what would be great?
What do I mean by that? I mean it would be great if God had some magic wand that He would employ when I wanted something changed or fixed. Now, that’s not to say that God doesn’t or can’t work miracles. They happen all the time, but usually not in a magic wand, poof it’s better way.
I find myself frequently praying for characteristics.
God please make me more friendly, loving, patient, peaceful, empathetic, ect.
These are not bad prayers. I pray frequently for God to shape and mold my heart. Take me from the worst of sinners to make me into the example that I need to be.
You’ve prayed those prayers right?
Maybe I’m the only broken person in the room.
Such as I am, broken… human, I am in constant need of tinkering. I need daily maintenance. Everyday, I have to choose who I want to be.
Some days I fail…. Actually most days I fail.
I fail to choose the righteous thing. I fail to choose the loving action, or the kind word. I fail to be a good example and a good reflection of the God that has lovingly created me.
The thing is on the days where I’ve failed to choose the right thing, I have said two things to God.
1. See, I still need to work on that.
2. I wasn’t serious about praying about that last night.
The thing about praying to God for a character change is that God isn’t going to wave the magic wand, and poof you are automatically perfect. You open your eyes after that prayer and God has made you into the most wonderful version of you. More likely than not, God’s gonna make you prove it.
Think of the most trying person you’ve ever met. Everything that comes out of this person’s mouth drives you crazy. The way they dress, walk, their politics, all of it drives you completely crazy.
When you pray for patience, watch out, that person is going to come to you for counseling or tea.
When you pray for patience, the bus is two hours late, traffic is terrible, the baby won’t stop crying, the most annoying person you could have ever met walks into the room, the internet goes out in the middle of writing an important report, you have no water for two days…. whatever.
God don’t play.
You ask for patience and God isn’t going to use the magic wand. God’s going to make you work for patience.
How else will you learn it? I mean hey, it’s called a virtue for a reason.
And in those times that God obsticalizes (yes I just made up that word) our day, we have to decide if we really meant that prayer. Did we really want to work on our patience, or did we just want God to take care of it?
God is not incapable of fulfilling our needs, but I do deeply believe that God wants us to work on leading Christian lives each day. God gives us opportunities every day to be the people we need to be. You want patience, work on it. You want to be more empathetic, listen and love.
God could have made us brainless robots, and in many many many ways, this would make our lives so much easier.
But God wants us to choose to live lives of Godliness, and so when you pray that prayer, God in all of His wisdom, grace, and glory will find you some opportunities for YOU to do some work.
Without work there is no transformation. Without pain or molding there is no change.
We won’t ever get it right all of the time. God knows that. That’s what grace is for. But that grace, does not give you the excuse not to try.