From the Inside Out

Recently, as I was driving home from work, I was listening to Family Life Today, a Christian radio program broadcast out of Little Rock. The two co-hosts, both of whom are around my age, both admitted that they had always expected to be more mature by the time they reached their current ages.  That really caught my attention.  They were admitting on a nationally syndicated program what I had thought about myself on more than one occasion.  Could it be that I’m not alone?

Not long after that, I was listening to a Priscilla Shirer devotional CD as I was again driving either to or from work–I really don’t remember which. While speaking to a large group of women, she asked a friend who was on stage with her to stretch her arm out parallel to the floor and to hold a glass of water in her hand.  When Priscilla shook the friend’s arm, the water began to spill out of the glass.  After Priscilla asked the audience why the water was coming out of the glass, she explained that it was not because she was shaking the lady’s arm, but because there was water in the glass. If there were no water in the glass, it couldn’t come out.  She then asked the ladies in the audience if they had ever been shocked at what had come out of them when the events of life had shaken them.

Well, at that point, I was feeling pretty convicted, so I considered skipping to the next selection on the CD, or maybe just turning it off altogether.  But, I didn’t. I kept listening, and I’m so glad I did. That devotional opened my eyes to the fact that my heavenly Father allows me to be shaken up from time to time. The shaking can come in a variety of ways.  It may be a rude driver or a disagreement with my husband.  It might be an unexpected bill or having the cable line to my home cut on New Year’s Eve right before all the football games (Yes, that one really happened).  It can be anything that stirs up anger, envy, selfishness, pride–all those things that are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  There’s just no end to the list of mechanisms God can use to shake me–and you.

So why does God want me to be shaken? I’m convinced that He wants what’s in me that does not honor Him to come out so that I can face my sin and confess it. He wants to purify and refine my life.  Because I’m certain that He knows me and loves me, I can trust that He is preparing me for eternity, as well as to be of better service for Him now while I’m still hanging around down here. Until what’s in me comes out in the open, I can pretend it doesn’t exist.  I can fool myself and I can fool others, but I can’t deceive God.

This has truly revolutionized how I look at these events that “shake” my life.  Instead of viewing these incidents as irritating, annoying  and inconvenient, more and more I’m able to see these interruptions as God’s way of making me aware of anything in me that is not pleasing to Him. Now, instead of focusing on the mechanism God used to shake me, I’m increasingly able to see it as God intervening in my life to refine me and make me more Christ-like.

There’s a song called “He’s Still Working on Me” that was popular quite a few years ago. It was considered to be a children’s song, but I believe it applies to adults, as well.

There really ought to be a sign upon my heart

            Don’t judge him yet, there’s an unfinished part

            But I’ll be better just according to His plan

            Fashioned by the Master’s loving hands

He’s still working on me

            To make me what I need to be

            It took him just a week to make the moon and stars

            The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars

            How loving and patient He must be

            ‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me

                        (by Joel Hemphill)

How comforting it is to know that my great God will never give up on me–not because of who I am, but because of who He is.  He just keeps working on me to make me more like His precious Son.  It is a process that won’t stop until I take my last breath and then go home to be with Him.  So, I guess this maturity thing is really more about the process–or journey–than about reaching a destination where I can consider myself “mature.”  Apparently, as long as I’m this side of Heaven, He will still be workin’ on me to change me from the inside out.  Hallelujah!

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