Sunday, December 21, 2008

CHANGE

We all desire change in our lives. Whether that is to change something about ourselves change our habits, or even change the world. There are a lot of things that we can’t change, but there are other things that we constantly try to change with success or to no avail. With 2009 before us, the word “change” keeps coming to my mind. I desire change, but what will it take to see this change happen?

10 years ago I had an encounter with a Higher Power that led me to change many things in my life. 10 years later, I realized I am changing yet once again. When I was 16 years old I thought I had everything a teenager could want. I had it all: money, drugs, power, friends, influence and everything the world could have offered a MTV adolescent. Yet, it’s when it seems we have achieved everything, at that moment, we feel that we actually have nothing at all. That’s how I felt. I had everything, but in my heart I had nothing.

I had everything a young man could want. At the same time, I felt more lost than ever. It wasn’t till that fateful day when I was faced with being arrested by the police for grand theft that I finally woke up. I had everything, yet I wanted more because of my greed. But when is enough truly enough? Sometimes, it takes a moment of “humbling” to bring us back to our senses. With the police on my tail, my Christian mother weeping over my wrong doings, I came to my senses and decided I needed to change. With my future on the line, with all odds against me, I made a decision to do what was right, take responsibility for my actions and turn myself into the police and confess the truth to the crime I had committed. It was a scary decision, but it was a decision that had to be made. Looking back, it was the best decision I had ever made, to put my trust in God and to change my old ways. By the grace of God, I was given something I didn’t deserve. Six months after turning myself into the police, the court let me go free with no charges, no record or jail sentence.

I always tell people when they hear my impossible story of how a convicted felon was let go with no charges that, “Justice is getting what you deserve, Mercy is getting what you don’t deserve, but Grace is getting what you definitely don’t deserve.” We all need grace in our lives. We need grace from God, grace for our own selves and grace for others. No one is perfect; we all make mistakes, because we are all human. If we desire to change in 2009 we can learn from my own story…

1. Change starts with you – don’t try to change others or your circumstances around before you first learn to change yourself. Judge not or you will be judged. Before we try to change what is around us, let us look within us, with an honest heart and see what needs to be changed in our own lives.

2. Change requires humility – humility is being honest to yourself and others with who you really are. No need to justify your shortcomings or wrong actions, simply own up to your mistakes and recognize that you need help in changing them.

3. Change moves us to action – if we are really going to change, we must make a commitment to change followed with action. Change is not just talk, but it is walk. If you want to quit smoking cigarettes, or change a bad habit, stop eating so much, spending on what you don’t need, or change your own understanding of yourself you need to take the necessary actions to see the change become a reality.

The day I turned myself into the police for grand theft, I could have just told God and my mother “sorry I will never do it again”, but saying sorry wasn’t enough. I had to do what was right, turn myself in, own up to my wrong doings and walk out my repentance.

In the same way, if we want real change we must not just talk about it, but be about it. Change doesn’t start tomorrow, it starts with doing what you know is right today.

4. Change is not easy, so give yourself grace – We also need to understand that change is a process. It doesn’t happen over night, it happens with time. Just as it takes years for a child to grow to an adolescent and from an adolescent to a young adult and so forth, so it takes time for anyone and everyone to change for the better. Give yourself grace when you make mistakes, fall into temptation, or keep doing things you don’t want to do. God forgives you, so you must learn to forgive yourself. With grace, nothing is impossible to overcome. Pick yourself back up, let go of the past, don’t be so hard on yourself and keep moving forward. With a little grace, we can all change for the better.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Blessings,

JMA

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