When we come to God in our lives, we begin to look at ourselves in a different way. The Holy Spirit within us begins to gently point out some of our thoughts, actions and habits that do not line up with Christ-centered living. If we are willing, He then helps us to change by experiencing a life transition as, inch by inch and piece by piece, we surrender to Him.
This does not mean we will no longer have any fun. Ideally, we will experience a lot more fun, just in a healthier and more positive way, and with a lot less destruction of ourselves and others along the way.
One of the first things we often notice that needs changing is our language. It becomes pretty obvious that a habitual foul mouth or constant stream of unclean words will not lead to a peaceful atmosphere. With God’s help, we begin to clean these habits up.
What about some of the more subtle things we do that are harmful to our spirituality and to the well-being of others? The prophet Isaiah wrote about some of these which are common to many of us.
9…“If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, Isaiah 58:9b NKJV
There are many types of yokes that people bear, many of which were described in the previous meditation. But one that comes to mind here is the control that we often try to put on others. That is one type of harmful yoke that I can directly influence in its removal.
There are many ways we can try to control people, including manipulation, intimidation, or silent scorn. We can use various forms of fear to try to keep their behavior in line with our wishes. These techniques may work for a while, but eventually they will blow up in our faces and cause quite a bit of harm, and resentment from all parties.
When we surrender control to God, even just a little bit at a time, we can observe miraculous results and may begin to see complete resolution in relationships over the course of time. Of course, the ultimate result is in God’s hands. It may not be what we were hoping for, but He will change us and bring us to a point of acceptance and peace about it, however He chooses to resolve it.
Other types of negative actions that Isaiah brings up are pointing our finger at people – having a direct, angry confrontation with someone – and speaking wickedness, most often done behind someone’s back.
Steven Covey once pointed out that if we are in a roomful of people and they are talking negative about someone who is not present, that is likely the way they will start talking about us once we leave.
In the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew chapters 5-7. Jesus said quite a bit about the correct way to handle conflicts with others, doing so in loving way. He also says that we will ultimately be judged by God in the same manner that we judge others. (Even this I take to the cross of Christ for forgiveness!)
If, with God’s help, we can begin to put some of these bad habits behind us, and begin to extend blessings to others to meet their needs and afflictions rather than to put them down, this is what Isaiah says the Lord will do for us:
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. Isaiah 58:10-12 NKJV
Through Isaiah, the Lord tells us that He will be our Light whenever we are surrounded by darkness, and an unfailing spring of water whenever we are surrounded by drought. We will bring blessings to those around us who are living in parched darkness. As God’s blessings spread throughout the community, generations of despair can be undone. It will be as if we are rebuilding the streets and repairing the walls for peaceful habitation– we will be called “Repairers of the Breach” and “Restorers of Streets to Dwell In”. God will share the credit for His healing of the community with us, His representatives, and global ambassadors for Christ. May it begin with us!
This is a tall order and, many days, may appear to be an impossible task. But with God, all things are possible in accordance with His will and His word.
What needs cleaning up in my life today? What step can I take to be a blessing to others?
Lord, I confess that there is much that needs to be cleaned up within me. Help me to surrender to You bit by bit, giving up my attempts to control, belittle or judge those around me. Use me to rebuild the spiritual health of the community, beginning with those You have put into my life around me. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.