Turn and face the strange
~ David Bowie “Changes”
Ever since I became a practicing disciple of Jesus, going on about 15 years now, I have been struck by how non-intuitive Jesus is for me, a middle-aged woman, who is a product of American culture and mores, including The American Dream. Gratefully, the more I get to know Jesus, the more things tend to make sense from His vantage-point, and the more comfortable I grow with trusting Him with the times when life doesn’t make sense. Jesus is just so much bigger than the setting in which I’ve gotten to know and love Him. And His big ideas include the uncomfortable and the unseen—acts of change and faith in the walk of following Him.
Just last Sunday, our pastor clarified the meaning of the word “disciple”. To be a disciple of Jesus is to not only follow Him, but to be changed by Him, so that we can be engaged in others’ lives, investing in them while the Holy Spirit changes their hearts.
When my heart is truly softened, I know that in order to be like Jesus, utter dependence upon and surrender to Him is key to the abundant life He wants for me. I know that in order to be more like Him, I might will suffer as He suffered. So how does this life change really look? Well, it actually turns my American Dream upside down.
I don’t know about you—maybe you don’t know Jesus—welcome! But for me, while being a disciple of Jesus is the best thing I’ve ever done, it has also been THE STRANGEST THING EVER! To one who was raised by a single mom to be as independent as possible (never depending on a man because, gurrl, they will let you down), and with the pulling oneself up by one’s boot straps mentality, relying fully on anyone, especially one whom I couldn’t see, hear or touch made about as much sense as running into a busy street to play. Why? Because I’m not used to looking with an eternal focus. I’m used to counting the cost and protecting myself, since it was always my understanding that unless I looked out for me, no one else would.
It’s so much easier to focus inwardly. To resist change. To hold fast to control. To keep the circle of trust love and care small and insulated from the ugliness of the world. Because there is ugliness. People are hard to love (not me, mind you, but “people”)—they can be rude, ungrateful, different, and possibly, scary. Oh, and I don’t know about you, but I like to be first in line, go first class, and, if I’m completely honest, live in my first world country with all its first world problems. In short, I like my comforts and American Dream, thankyouverymuch.
But I love Jesus more. He has been far more faithful in my own life than I could ever ask for or imagine, unless I had lived it. He is so good. So…daily, I ask him to give me a heart of flesh in place of my heart of stone. I ask Him to help me change from the inside out, so that I may:
- Serve widows and children
- Love the poor and the foreigner – who are my neighbors
- Pray for and give mercy to my enemies
- Respect Authority
- Release my control (which is so tightly entwined with my pride) and trust in His plans
- Set aside my comfort for His peace
In short, so that I may seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly by His side.
With a changed heart, I see that worldly success is fine, but that the most successful people in this life are those with eyes on their eternal prize – living with God forever.
So how about you? Have you turned to face the strange ch-ch-changes?
Change my heart, Oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart Oh God
May I be like You.
You are the potter
I am the clay
Mold me and make me
This is what I pray
~Eddie Espinosa (Change My Heart, Oh God)