Light Through Forest

I am so glad that the holidays are over! Don’t get me wrong—of course I am joyful over the birth of my Savior—but at least in this culture, that really doesn’t have much to do with Christmas. Christmas here in the U.S. is more about materialism, greed, and busyness than the birth of Christ. We scramble around searching for gifts, trying to figure out where the money will come from to buy those gifts, and then cleaning up all the mess when it’s all over. Honestly, I don’t really look forward to Christmas most years, but I do look forward to January.

To me, a new year is symbolic of hope. As I open up my new planner and begin to think on what the year might bring, I feel hopeful and excited. But this wasn’t always the case. Before I knew Christ, I was always trying to change. I had many New Year’s resolutions over the years, but never was able to achieve what I’d set out to do. In fact, most years I’d forgotten the resolutions by the end of January! After a few weeks of trying to do better with whatever I’d set my mind to improve on, I would always settle back into my old ways. Change seemed impossible.

But then, I met Christ. The Changer of Hearts was my teacher, and from Him, I learned how to really change. He taught me that real, lasting change must come from the heart. Changing behaviors—stopping bad ones or starting good ones—will never, has never changed anyone. Early in my biblical counselor training, I learned a truth that completely changed my view of how people change. That truth came from Isaiah 43:7. That verse taught me that I was created for one purpose: To glorify God. All my life I had searched for purpose and meaning and here, finally, I had found it. My reason for living was to bring glory to God’s name!

From that point on, my whole attitude changed. The Holy Spirit ignited a desire in me that has yet to be quenched. I began to talk differently to myself. I stopped saying to myself, “Come on, Suzanne you know you want to change! You can do it!” Instead, each time I was tempted by sin or old patterns of thinking, I would ask myself questions like these: “How can I glorify God right now, in this moment?” “What response to this person or situation would bring God the most glory?” Questions like these, as I answered and acted biblically, began to transform my thinking. I was no longer relying on my own strength, or even my own desire. There was something bigger at stake here—the glory of God. And He gave me more and more desire to see that glory come through in my life.

But He did something more than that. He changed what I wanted to change. As I focused more on God’s glory and less on my own comfort, I found that my longing for change was less about me, and more about God. Instead of desiring a change in eating habits, use of my time, or improvement as a wife, for example, I began to desire to be more useful in ministry, more loving toward others and more deeply in union with Christ.

The miraculous thing is that, as God gave me more desire and longing for these things, those temporal habits changed as a result! He granted my desire to be more useful in ministry by drawing me more and more into His Word. As I spent more time there, and less time in front of the TV or social media, I found my free time was transformed. In a similar way, he is transforming my marriage as I seek His glory in my actions and words as a wife. Other habits that I’ve always wanted to change continue to fall in line as I shift my focus from my success to His glory.

My friend, I would like to challenge you, as we begin a new year, to join me in renewing your mind according to the truth of Isaiah 43:7. Throughout this day, this week, this year, my prayer is that you will look at your choices through the lens of this powerful little verse. Are you looking for meaning and purpose in life? You were created to glorify God. How are you doing right now?