He’s older and getting frightfully older by the minute. Have you ever looked at someone and could see them aging right before your eyes? Hear the new crackle in their voice? Catch a verbal flub or memory lapse? Watch clear eyes turn watery? It’s an unsettling feeling to watch the tail-end of time transpire over a loved one. I’ve walked through this process with my parents, in-laws, and grandmother. With the exception of my mom, who succumbed to cancer way too young, all the others entered through the veil of fragility that awaits the blessed elderly.
I have learned so much from walking alongside them. Truly, it takes a different kind of stamina to endure the changes that accompany our senior years. However, as I think of the millennia of people who have experienced the fortunate, or ill-fated aspects of aging, one thing is common among us no matter what our age, or what age in history. That thread throughout time is our human nature, and in my eyes, aging seems to be the test to see if we are still as selfish in our older years, as we were as toddlers.
As you grow older do you find yourself becoming more gracious, or more intolerant? Is it easier to be vulnerable, or self-protect? Can you know you’re right about something, but let it go and forgive anyway? These are just a few variations of challenges that have repeatedly assailed me as I’ve grown older. And, for the record, older is 20 years old and up! It’s at this age of independence that we all take charge of these choices, and especially as Christians, shape our choices to look more like Christ.
This thought brings us back to transformational change and the 3rd and final part of our series on change. Change happens. For better or worse, in big ways and little ways, but as I’ve said, transformational change doesn’t happen on its own. If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m very much a “how” girl; as in, “So, how do I do it?” How do I change for the better? How do I look more like Christ, daily?
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
The Fruit of the Spirit tells us what that looks like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. God wants us to show this fruit to the world, no matter what our age.
Easier said than done, right? But, let’s take a moment and think about how fruit grows – it doesn’t just pop out on a branch does it? We don’t get instant apples, or vineyards of grapes. Fruit grows slowly from the nourishment it receives from the vine it’s connected to. In John chapter 15 Jesus calls Himself the vine, and He talks about how to get this fruit. “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (vs. 4)
The way to do that is to get to know God better. Our spiritual transformation depends on it. One of the ways we get to know God better is through Jesus who invites us to remain in Him, in order to get this fruit. In John 15 Jesus says REMAIN eleven times in eleven verses. Do you think He is trying to make this point really clear?
He is saying I am the true vine, if you want transformational change REMAIN in me so that your joy may be complete. This is how I stopped wandering all those years ago. I learned about our Savior, and what I learned brought me joy, regardless of my circumstances.
Remember that suffering picture of Jesus I mentioned in part one? Well, remaining in Jesus changed that two-dimensional painting, I saw as a child, into a dynamic, real-life relationship.
REMAINING is simply being with God. It’s drawing near to Him often. Having a consciousness of Him in our everyday – throughout our everyday. It’s learning about who He is in His Word. It’s bringing Jesus everywhere we go and letting Him in on every one of our thoughts, impressions, opinions and judgements.
I began practicing this many years ago. I started small and made changes through the years. Early on I committed to a 7-minute daily devotion, now I’m doing a morning meditation in similar length. I made a decision to bring God along with me in my car; I shut off the radio and use that time with Him. I even take God shopping with me – that may sound strange, but He finds some great bargains and He also helps me to steward my money better. There are so many personal and creative ways for us to figure out how to remain in Him.
- The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence was a book I found, early on, that shaped my approach to this.
- Knowing how you experience God s valuable. I recently found an assessment called Spiritual Pathways that reveals how you connect with Him best, which helps you more easily REMAIN.
My transformational change is still happening, I don’t think anyone’s ends this side of heaven. It takes a lot of effort and awareness to work against habits and cultural norms. But Jesus is counter-cultural and calls us from that, into His love, guidance, and peace. He says that when we REMAIN in Him our joy will be complete. He is our joy! He is the best place to be.
Sadly, there are too many times I choose not to go where He is. Unfortunately, there are parts of my heart that object to looking like Christ. Parts that insist on being right, stubborn, jealous, emotionally shut down and disconnected. These are the traceable footprints of judgement that we explored last month. These are all aspects of self-exaltation, and as we’ve learned, there is no room for grace in these spaces.
God is the one who brings the best out of us. He develops well-formed maturity in us. The work of graciousness, kindness, and connectedness is the change that He calls us to. We can decide every day HOW we will change. We may not always be successful, but Jesus doesn’t call us to success, He calls us to REMAIN.
The bottom line is that remaining in Jesus helps us to get to know God better, which helps develop mature fruit. Love, joy, and peace are wonderful change.
Change happens. We are all going to change in big ways, little ways, for the better and for the worse, but transformational change doesn’t happen on its own. It begins with a decision to remain in Jesus. After that you’ll always be in good company and be blessed beyond your imagination.
I know because I’ve experienced this grace. And while I will always be Karyn, my hope is that I will eventually become a faint memory of myself and that you’ll see far more of Jesus than you do of me. A verse that I claim about this is I Corinthians 15:10. It says, But, by the grace if God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.
Friends, we are all aging, and change is a natural part of that. However, the best is yet to come, and it typically happens after we pass through that veil of fragility. That best is eternal life, which is an extension of our current, vibrant life. The truth is, we are living eternal life now, on this side of heaven. This gives us opportunities to bring aspects of heaven down to earth in the form of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
REMAINING in Jesus is how we accomplish this. The good news is that the indwelling Holy Spirit empowers us, and God wants to be a part of it in body, mind, heart and soul:
- Your BODY is His dwelling place. It’s where heaven and earth meet.
- With the MIND of Christ you can take every thought, impression, opinion and judgement captive and give it to Him to redeem.
- He will purify every aspect of your HEART that you choose to surrender to Him.
- Your SOUL is already His. Remember that, and turn fully into your faith to receive more of Him.
Our unchanging God calls us to change, but He doesn’t leave us on our own to do it. Christ is the true vine that nourishes us to full spiritual maturity, when we remain in Him. And when we do, our joy is complete.
I pray that in this ever-changing world that you be transformed daily by the true vine, Jesus Christ. Every moment of your day: in your car, your home, at work, with others…. And that in the midst of this transformation, you come to know God better so that the world can know Him better through you. I pray your heart can say, Jesus here I am. I offer you my whole self. Come now and transform me by your Holy Spirit. And so, I call upon the joy of the Lord to settle upon each and every one of you, as you grow to look more like him.
In Jesus precious name, Amen.
Want to find ways to remain in Christ better? Consider a few coaching sessions to help you discover what that would look like it! As a Christian Life Coach, I can help you move from where you are to where God wants you to be. If you’d like to explore this further, then let’s chat. I’d love to be your champion in what God is calling you to do!
If you are not currently a subscriber to my mailing list, sign up today and receive coaching resources to help you dig deeper!
#Karynisms #CoachKaryn #EQCoachKaryn #EQandJesus #EQ #EI #emotionalintelligence #biblicalliving #lifecoaching #witnessandponder #change #goodchange #badchange #bigchange #littlechange #leadership #leadwell #remain #remaininChrist #knowGod #selfleadership #looklikeJesus #leadlikeJesus #glorifyGod