Stuck. Like strands of tough paper mache, my bad habits seem to enclose me with their relentlessly fragile grip. Every time I try to break free I hear another side of myself protest, But I like the paper mache. It’s pretty and it covers up my raw image. I’m comfortable here. Is it really worth it to break free just to have more freedom to fall?
At the same time, God created each of us with a desire to grow—to move forward. But somehow I believe that God’s desires for me to walk towards Him are overshadowed by His hatred of sin. Forgetting that God hates the sin but loves the sinner, this feeling of guilt holds me back. I am stuck.
This experience is not unique to me. As Christians, we often find it hard to hope for a change in our lives. Though Christ’s omnipotence has been unquestionably demonstrated, somehow we limit God’s power to change us. Often, we consecrate ourselves to God and resolve to do better. We believe that He is working in us and think that perhaps we finally are moving forward! But, alas! The devil’s temptation eventually proves too strong for our frail human will and we stumble and fall. Discouraged, we lie in the mud while he gleefully slaps on more paper mache. The spirit of resignation tempts us to stay there.
Who am I to think that God will help me? Just look at the mess I am in! Maybe I wasn’t sincere after all. Maybe I never have been. Perhaps…perhaps I am not the kind of Christian God can change.
Wait a minute! What are you saying? There is no limit to God’s power and there is also no limit to His desire to change you. The love of the Omnipotent Father was powerful enough to enable Him to give His Son for the very people who held no remorse for putting Him to death. What you should be saying is this:
Who am I to think that God can’t help me? Just look at the mess I am in! God hates this sin even more than I do. I may not always have the hatred for it that He does, but He is able to give it to me as He has promised. For “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Perhaps…perhaps I am just the kind of Christian God wants to change.
But you cannot change unless you believe this. You must reach up the hand of faith to grasp God’s outstretched hand of Omnipotence. He will help you up out of the mud and set your feet again on the firm path. He will wipe the stains of your failure from off your soiled paper prison. And then He will begin to teach you how to change.
“I will walk ahead of you”, He says. “I will walk backwards so I can face you and hold your hands. I know the trail. Keep your eyes on mine, beholding my love for you. I will point out the beauty along the way. I will show you the right steps. Do not look down at your paper but up to the real joys and struggles of the road which I have prepare to teach you.”
And though your prison holds you in an awkward gait, He encourages you—one step at a time. And yes, sometimes you stumble and sometimes you forget to look Him in the eye with honesty and trust. It is then that you fall. Again. But each time He has hold of your hands. He never lets go but gently encourages you to believe His power to change, to grow, and to mold you into His image. And so you walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Because when you occasionally steal that quick peek down, you still see the paper mache. But He keeps asking you to believe. So you determine to do so. Because, by this point, you love those eyes. And you are beginning to trust them too.
And then one day, the two of you reach the gate of the city of God. Fear is in your eyes because you wonder if you are worthy to enter. But the gate swings open and you safely pass through. Then He stops and says “Look deep into my eyes.” As you do, you are surprised. For they act like a mirror which allows you to see yourself through His eyes. In place of your paper mache habits and faults are strands of thread, each a different color. Together they are woven into a robe of many colors. In amazement you ask, “Where did my papers go, Lord?” He gently answers, “When you stopped looking at yourself but looked instead to Me, it was then that I could remove them. I took away each one and replaced it with good. It was painful and you often felt the road becoming steep as your muscles were made to work for the first time once free from the paper. But as you looked unto Me, you were changed into My likeness—a righteous child of God.”
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are change into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).