Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT)
As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.
It is hard to remember our life three years ago before cancer barged its way in. Looking back there were a whole lot of things that seemed important until faced with life and death, but after that moment in time everything changed. In fact, it seems as though our life is in the midst of constant change every single day. From the beginning we have made a solemn vow that cancer would not change us and it hasn’t. But Jesus Christ has throughout this process so much so that thankfulness rises in the brokenness when life doesn’t turn out exactly as one might expect. Today is our son’s birthday, he is 22 years old. The last three years of his young life have been filled with things that nobody expects to face in their lifetime let alone before the age of 25. As we gathered yesterday to celebrate his birthday and Mother’s Day, it is a bittersweet. He is my Mother’s Day baby. Having all my children together in the same house at the same time produces chaos that we call family, yet inside it brings me peace to have them all together at one time. I can see them. I can touch them. I am comforted in the fact that they are all okay. I do not take for granted this time as I once did. Cancer has tried to fill my heart with fear but Jesus grants me peace in knowing that He is working in us and through us each day so that not a single second is wasted. The Lord is making everything work together for our good by changing my stubborn and hard heart into a pliable, moldable vessel that is ready to receive. I have a new interest in the Cross and all of the benefits of this new life in Christ now that mortality is a reality. I am being transformed. I am becoming the new creation that I was supposed to be before sin tried to take it from me. I live in a state of constant change though once it seemed so scary now I have learned to embrace it.
Hosea 2:14-16 (NLT)
“But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,” says the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’”
The story of Hosea and Gomer may be considered the historical rendition of the movie, “Pretty Woman”. The Lord told Hosea to go marry a prostitute. I wonder what Hosea thought about the whole thing. God intended to demonstrate His Love through their story. I cannot imagine how he must have felt knowing that his wife was giving herself to other men. Or how his pride ached when God said, “Go get her.” God knew that His People had given themselves to other things, and He knew that you and I would do exactly the same thing in our lifetime. Born into this world, we would become of this world. It would require a radical transformation to give up our life and become a new creation. It is all that we have ever known so to release it to take hold of faith in a God who we cannot see and to hold on to hope for something that is incomprehensible seems foolish. I have gone through every single emotion possible over the last few years. Some days I am angry that this disease dare to threaten the life of the innocent, other times I grieve all that he must endure to keep it at bay, and then my impatience gives way to agitation as my soul cries out, “How much longer, Lord?” Then there are the days like David that I get up off the ground, wash my face, put on lotion and worship the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:19-21) Through it all, I have come to understand that trauma will produce a change.
When life does not turn out how we expect it to, we are forced to change our expectation. This is a pivotal moment in the life of all God’s Created Ones. “I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” When everything changes, transformation occurs. I have no idea what you are going through today. I don’t know the face of your adversity. But I do know the cry of one’s heart in the midst of such heartache and hardship. I know what it feels like to try to gather all the broken pieces and feel lost in trying to put your life back together. The bigger they are the harder they fall applies to those who are strong people who are excellent survivors. It will take even more for the Lord to make them “thrivers”. Unfailing Love and Unfathomable Grace are the things we find when we submit our hearts and lives to the radical transformation of God. Such a transformation is a pilgrimage into the very Presence of the Living God and you will be changed. “What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.” (Psalm 84:5-7)
Romans 2:29 (NLT)
No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.
Only God can produce the change of heart necessary to experience the full benefit of one’s salvation. His Spirit is the key to freedom like you and I have never known but not if we keep Him locked inside restricted by the hard walls of a cold heart. So God in His Infinite wisdom allows us to be broken so that we can be redeemed, restored, renewed and released into the greatest freedom ever known. Hope is the freedom to see past this life into forever and the fullness found in such a revelation. But like natural circumcision, spiritual circumcision is uncomfortable and often painful. Jacob began to notice a change in Laban’s attitude toward him even though Jacob had done nothing wrong. (Genesis 31) When life unexpectedly changes, it is an opportunity for transformation by relocation. We will not move if not uncomfortable. ”Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:5-6 NKJV) God has a purpose and plan for your life written before you were born to your fulfillment and prosperity. If left up to you, it will be abandoned for the things of this life not attained by faith in the confident hope who we have. God is changing you because His Plan is better and He wants you to have it. But it is up to us to submit our lives to constant change and transformation beginning with yielding our heart even in the midst of pain and pressure. Your heart will break one way or the other. God wants to change your life into the Glorious Image that He mandated. He wants you to bless you according to His Glorious Riches. The Lord longs to raise your life to His Glorious Standard, but you won’t accept this without a fight – it is human nature. The Lord is relentless in this pursuit. He does not lie. (Malachi 3:6) He does not change His Mind. (Hebrews 6:17-18) He will stop at nothing for you to have this new life so why not just go ahead and submit to His Change today.
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
How any person could have more faith and greater hope after four cancer diagnoses is beyond my comprehension? How I could ever experience joy and peace when the life of my precious child hangs in the balance is ridiculous but true. I am changed in this moment because I am walking through the Valley of Trouble to the gateway called hope. Feet don’t fail me now… What is the trouble you are facing? Do not take it lightly. Do not compare it to the process that our family is now engaged in because we are all very different. God uses the circumstances of our life to promote positive change no matter what it is. I have had friends begin to pour out their hearts and problems to me and then feel guilty saying, “Although this is nothing like what you are going through…” Friend, it is exactly the same thing. There are not levels to our pain but thresholds of tolerance. Endurance promotes patience as we make it a little farther each time. We are all at different places in the process but God is the same God for us all. Every single hurt and heartache no matter how big or small is a growth opportunity. When we decide to give our life to Jesus Christ and trust Him no matter what, we will be transformed. His Word will never return void in our life. It begins with a change of mind that will inevitably change our heart. He is God. He is good. I want Him all. Decide to give your heart and mind to God and be prepared for constant change. This is how we prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect Will of God, I know this is crazy but bear with me. I had never experienced a miracle firsthand until our daughter feel very ill from instant onset asthma that got progressively worse until the Lord healed her in an instant. My faith grew in the process. But the hope that I found the moment I realized she had been set free would change me forever. I gained real estate in the Kingdom of God by investing total belief that He is the God who heals so much so that now I cannot do anything but believe that it is going to happen again. He changed my mind then so that I can stand on His Word now with much greater stakes than before. The Perfect Will of God is the result of faith and confident hope that produces unshakeable and immovable belief in the Living God who is inside of you!
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT)
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
God has given us the Holy Spirit to change our heart and mind. As we surrender more of our life to the Lord, He is able to change us inside and out. The problem is we want outward transformation without inward change. This is impossible. The crazy part of all of this is that we are the ones who often hold the door to freedom tightly shut. We do not want change. We do not want problems. We do not want inconvenience or discomfort in any way shape or form. The Lord gave us the story of Hosea and Gomer as an example of His Unfailing Love. Your problems are not punishment from the Lord or a sign of His Rejection. They are consequence of generational sins and rebellion, but God gave us His Spirit to identify us as His Children so that we are now free to come back home. We are redeemed as Gomer was from slavery to sin so we are no longer subject to the natural outcomes in this life. The Spirit of the Lord is constantly working to open the doors that we hold closed in our stubborn opposition to change so that we can experience the Glory of God in our life. He unsettles us making life uncomfortable so that we will press from something more than ordinary. We have the promises and prosperity as our full potential and the Lord has provided everything we need to be successful in everything that we do as His Precious Children. What stops us? We do not like change and refuse to submit to it. As the Lord transforms our life, we will have to change and go through change to move from faithlessness to faithfulness and hopelessness to hopefulness. Circumcision is a painful process but necessary to receive all that the Lord intends for us to have. Prosperity begins with a broken heart. Who is willing to change to have it?
Psalm 51:10-12 (NLT)
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you.