This is a guest post from Amir Ameen - an undergraduate student from the UK. You can read more of Amir's work by visiting THE CANDLE - an online magazine to which Amir contributes regularly. And if you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:12)
“MAN.” In that little three-letter word, there is a deluge of grace. Knowing that we’re created in the Image of God whilst entertaining that whisper of fatalism – assuring me that my spiritual transformation is pretty much impossible – tells me something isn’t right.
In Psalm 90, Moses prays for the Israelites wandering the wilderness in spiritual inertia; a feeling which, in all honesty, I’m no stranger too. Yet considering God is the same God who held the sun at a standstill over Gibeon and licked the Earth in flames on Mt Carmel, I can’t help but feel more than a touch of un-fulfilment. I find myself craving the transformation of the renewal of our minds St. Paul writes of in Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
"LET THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD OUR GOD BE UPON US..."
The path to glorying God begins in reflecting his Image. Trying to mend ourselves is like repairing a shattered mirror with glue – it remains cracked and reflects nothing worth looking at. The Psalmist writes: “Create in me a clean heart, O God”. Only Jesus has the power to heal. Look to Christ, He will take off the old man and put on the new.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
It took me a while to realize that changes within are always a result of the god we are worshipping. I only understood this after reading this following extract from the book God’s Smuggler.
“Andy, I have a story to tell you. Do you know how natives catch monkeys out in the forest?”
My face lit up at the thought of a monkey story. “No, tell me”. Well, you see, the natives know that a monkey will never let go of something he wants, even if it means losing his freedom. So they take a coconut and make a hole in one end just big enough for a monkey’s paw to slip through. Then they drop a pebble into the hole and wait in the bushes with a net.
Sooner or later a curious old fellow will come along. He’ll pick up that coconut shell and rattle it. He’ll peer inside. And then at last he’ll slip his paw into the hole and feel around until he gets hold of that pebble. But when he tries to bring it out, he finds that cannot get his paw through the hole without letting go. And, Andy, that monkey will never let go of what he thinks is a prize. It’s the easiest thing in the world to catch a fellow who acts like that”
We each own collection of coconut shells; the trivial pursuits we allege to let go of, but inadvertently cling to closer and closer. Until we find out what these pebbles are, we can never truly be free.
Secondly, change requires sacrifice. When we follow Christ, comfort and familiarity often do not follow immediately. To walk on water, Peter had to step off the boat first. A small part of us must die to provide fertile soil for our spirituality to blossom. This is what it means to be crucified with Christ so that He may live in us.
We’re living to reveal the glory of God, not our childish dreams. Joshua left camp for the tabernacle of meeting, while Elijah was humbled at Cherith/Zarephath before God worked wonders with these men.
"AND ESTABLISH THE WORK OF OUR HANDS FOR US..."
Transformation is ultimately the fruit of submission. Chasing the change is like chasing the wind; it’s Him that we crave. To become living sacrifices for Christ, He must be the one to mold us.
In Jeremiah 18, a potter shapes and fashions clay as he sees fit before passing it through fire; the hotter the furnace the finer the resulting vessel. The Word of the Lord came to him saying “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!”” (Jeremiah 18:6)
Now imagine a potter infinitely skilled, and a canvas far more elaborate than clay. This is what God does with us; he breathes life into the lifeless, from the ordinary He creates the extraordinary. In “The Street Children of Brazil”, Sarah de Carvalho describes her realization that the children she was working with could only ever be transformed by Christ from the inside out.
So come as you are, broken and flawed, but with a willing heart and a submissive spirit for those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. Times will get tough and the devil will try and stall you. But for Him I would let it all go.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” Isaiah 43:19