can I tell you something?

Can I tell you something I feel no one personally told me about following Jesus? (Maybe it's just me...?)

What is surprising me the most about this life is the in-between stages of becoming a different person with a new heart.

It's actually not very fun.

For a goal-driven, prideful, beauty-loving, success-seeking, love-to-make-myself-happy-most-of-all-American, the Lord knew from the beginning that I need a lot of emptying out of my sinful self.

But the emptying out, honestly, it feels really hard to not be able to do the things you used to love so much.

It feels...well...empty. And kind of sad. Like you lost a part of you. 

But only for a while. 

That painful, empty feeling is just the mid-point when you feel some desire for the old things of the flesh, but God is gently pulling your spirit to Himself and giving you a new heart. And you still want both the old and what He offers, but praise be to the Lord, you are somehow still walking away, leaving the old behind. 

It doesn't feel natural. It feels like a fight. It feels like saying goodbye to what you loved with every fiber of your being.

And it is. But the thing is- we have no idea how truly awful these worldly things are that we love so much. Or how very hideous they are to God. How they bring satisfaction to the flesh and seem so right to us but totally and completely deny the very Lord who bought us with a price. They are things that serve us, not God.

And then, when the Lord shows you that truth, your desire for those things starts to turn into horror that you could ever do them in the first place. And that's when it gets easier to leave them behind. When your mind is renewed by the Word of God, the Spirit helps your heart follow and obey it.

And the battle does get so much easier. But not until you see yourself, and your wretched sin (!), in light of the one true, holy, and perfect God.

If you're in the fight right now like me, let's pray for each other- that we would see things rightly. That we would see things truly. The way our Holy, Holy, Holy God sees them.

And that He would show us this in His Word- that it would give us eyes to see and ears to hear the truth, and a heart to do His will. And that He would give us the strength and ability to keep walking forward through His Spirit.

The best prize lies ahead of us, and is worth more than anything and everything we leave behind.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Phillipians 3:12-21