For most of my life I’ve tried to fit God and his desires for my life into a little box of my making, and oooh is it a comfortable little box. Instead of asking God to change my heart, renew my mind, and start a truly new life in him, I’ve mostly done it backwards. I’ll make sure I’m not doing anything too terrible, but I’m only going to let God work on my edges, and I’ll keep a firm grasp on the way I want to do life. But God doesn’t want to work on our edges. He wants to work on the very core of who we are, and I’m realizing that means changing the way I view myself and the world.

It’s comfortable to take my view of life, the beliefs I have, the character I’ve developed, and try to force God to conform to me. I say it’s comfortable to do that, because it requires little change and self-reflection on my part, but it’s certainly not easy. It’s not easy because God doesn’t work that way. He wants my whole life, and not just the parts I’m comfortable giving him (Mark 8:35). Yet so often I tighten my grip. Maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s selfishness, but I don’t feel like I’ve jumped into the pool with a giant cannonball. All I’ve done is dip my toes.

While I started to make God and church a priority several years ago, this year has been pretty amazing. My fears of truly following God have started to fade. That selfish grip I have on my life and my time has started to loosen. I want to let God change my heart and mind to be more like Christ, more so than any other time in my adult life. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m excited that there’s any progress at all.

I am not better than anyone else. I don’t get to look down on anyone because I think I’m right and they’re wrong, even if I am right. Christ hasn’t called me to be better than others. I’m not here to rank myself against others, judge people, or pick them apart so that I can make sure they’re at least one rung lower on the ladder than I am. I do that because it makes me feel good, but that’s using the world’s standards, not God’s. All the people I’ve ever tried to make small, God loves them just as much as he loves me. I want to set aside my envy of those that have “more than me.” There is no justification for my enmity towards those that have wronged me. I don’t get to hold on to any of it.

My time is God’s time. Our priorities show up in how we spend our time, and I want my time here on earth to reflect God’s priorities. This past year, as I’ve found myself giving more and more of who I am over to God, I see that reflected in how I’m using my time. I’ve discovered a passion to understand what I believe, and to pursue God’s plan for my life. I’ve only scratched the surface, but there is so much to learn.

I am defined by Christ. For years I’ve defined myself by my politics, but I had no idea that Trump’s election would so drastically change that for me. I’m not saying I’ve given up all political beliefs, or that I’m going to sit out all future elections, but politics is no longer an idol. I am not defined by my politics. I’m not just a Christian first, and it narrowly beat out other life defining labels. I am a Christian to the core of who I am. I’m also a husband, a dad, a teacher, and a voter, but my being a follower of Christ defines all of those things, and not the other way around. Following Jesus supersedes everything else. I don’t even want the label of “Christian” to define me. I want to be defined by the truth that Christ loves me, and his love for me gives me no other option but to love others.  

I am called to love people, and not just the ones that are easy to love. Not just people who agree with me, or think like me. All people. If I really believe this, it manifests as actions. It’s not merely an intellectual exercise, where I choose to love people, like I choose to believe the sky is blue. My love for others should change the way I live, how I use my time and money, and how I treat people.

I was thinking this week how interesting it is to look back on my faith journey. Why did it take me so long to surrender (or at least what my current understanding of surrendering is)? While I want to beat myself up over it, there’s no way to snap my fingers and just be who God wants me to be. Don’t get me wrong…my salvation is secure, and I am a new person in Christ, but he’s still working on me. I’m tired of letting him work on my edges. God…take it all.

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Nathan Charlton
A husband and father of three, he is first and foremost a Christian, but will openly admit he doesn't have everything figured out. His passions include writing, spending time with his family, and any game by Blizzard.

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