It’s time

If you are a Christian, there may come a time when your life is changed radically. I say may because the kind of change I am talking about is not automatic. It is true that when you accept Jesus as your savior, you personally are changed radically, transformed on the inside in an instant, but your life may stay exactly the same as it was before you became a believer.

Many people have experienced traumatic events that have changed their lives radically, like hurricane Katrina and some people have experienced positive things like winning the lottery. One day you are poor and the next day you are rich. One day you have a beautiful home and the next day you are homeless. Although events that are outside our control can alter our lives completely, it is possible to experience radical change by simply exercising your will to do things differently.

One of the reasons our lives do not change is because we don’t know what we need to do differently. We are unaware of the mistakes we are making. Jesus prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Sometimes, we willingly get ourselves into trouble. We do things of our own volition, knowing the results will not be good. When we consciously choose to do something over and over, it becomes a habit and eventually a lifestyle that we are unable to change. It takes an act of our will to break the cycle or a miracle from God to deliver us.

After I was raped, something happened inside of me. I can’t say I really thought about it or even made a conscious decision, but I know I decided to not trust men anymore. From that point forward, I didn’t develop any personal relationships with men. I dated, I even got married, but I never really cared about the men in my life. As far as I was concerned, men were untrustworthy and would only hurt me if I gave them the chance.

It has been 40 years since I was raped. That’s a long time to be set in my ways and I can say with assurance that I was completely unaware of what I was doing. If you would have asked me about it, I would have said, oh yah, I trust men. I have a lot of relationships with men, but that would have been a lie. I didn’t have my first personal relationship with a man until about a month ago.

In Psalm 102, it says about the LORD, “Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come” (Psalm 102:13). The words translated time and set time are different. The word translated time, ‘êth (ayth) means an appointed time or proper time. “It is used of the appropriate time or suitable time for a given activity in life” (6256). The word translated set time, mô‘êd (mo – ade´) means an appointed place of meeting” (4150). Mo‘ed refers to the festivals that were prescribed and signifies the set place where they were to occur.

Although the festivals were prescribed and expected to be observed by all the Israelites, they were not. There was an appointed time for them to take place and each person had the opportunity to celebrate the festivals if they wanted to. It was as if God was saying, I’ll be here, come if you want to celebrate with me. What kept most people away was the need for a sacrifice. I had to make a sacrifice in order to trust again. I had to sacrifice my pride, my fear, and my need to know what was going to happen next. I decided it was worth it and my life has been radically changed.

Celebrate!

Renewal is a concept that is difficult to grasp until you get to a place where you feel stuck or are at the end of your rope and are struggling to let go of control of your life. There is something about starting over that does not seem natural in a life that seems to be all about making progress.

One of the things God prescribed for the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land was celebration. There were certain festivals established that required singing and dancing as an expression of gratitude and worship of God. Celebration was a way of emphasizing the positive aspect of renewal and making it something to look forward to.

When God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, he was giving them the chance for a new way of life, but they preferred their old lifestyle. God wanted to provide for their needs, but the people wouldn’t listen to him. It says in Psalm 81,” But my people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their hearts lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (Psalm 81:11-12).

When we pursue our heart’s desire apart from God, life becomes and endless journey. There is no renewal because lust always takes you deeper, farther, searching for more and it never relents. That’s why in pursuit of freedom, addicts are directed to a higher power or help.

Only God has the power to make old things new. His universe was designed for constant renewal and without it, we will self destruct. His command to celebrate with festivals that involved singing and dancing show us that he should be worshipped with expressions that go beyond words. He is the God of new beginnings and he can renew us if we will listen to his voice.