One of the guys in the jail Bible study asked me “How did you turn your life around?” I have shared my testimony with these guys before, but he wanted to hear again how I got off drugs and reconnected with my wife Tracey. I love telling what God has done in my life and yet most of the time it seems like I’m telling someone else’s story. I am so far removed from the way I used to see things and how I lived life it truly doesn’t sound like it’s me.
Most people are looking for a quick fix to problems. When it comes to getting your life “turned around”, as he said, there may be a little more to it. Of course there is a definite moment in time when, according to Jesus, you must be born again. Being born is an event that takes place in real time and can be documented as such. The actual process of living the new life though is full of small incremental changes. It isn’t just a one time event and now everything is great and will never fall apart again. Life will always present us with new challenges.
This man admits to having a hothead and is beginning to realize he can’t control it. He said, “Sometimes I stop and think; I shouldn’t get angry.” You have to realize he’s in jail and that is quite a different environment than most of us are used to. In there you are in a cell with other men and there is no where to go and get away from each other. It is to be expected that there will be conflict and agitation. He said, “I know I’m not suppose to respond that way, but maybe it’s my pride telling me I’m going to look weak if I let it slide.”
This is one of the reasons I love teaching the word at the jail. For the most part these guys tell it like it is, and my experience in the average church setting is nothing like it. He was freely admitting his anger problem and how pride was driving him. What can you say to that? This describes many, many people that would never freely admit it doesn’t it? I told him I heard the sound of victory in what he said. He said, “Sometimes I stop and think” and I told him that was the beginning of his answer. Once he learns to stop and think before he reacts he will get there. Most of the time people just jump when they get angry rather than take time to think through the consequences of their actions.
Being angry, inpatient, fearful, jealous etc. are all normal human feelings. It isn’t so much the human feelings that need to change; it is the realization that those feelings don’t rule you. This is where the process of learning to walk in the Spirit comes in. We find ourselves in a situation that makes us angry, we feel it and want to lash out but then the Spirit of God shows you the consequences. Every time I act out in this way this happens…every time!
The definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.” As for me I thought each time I did drugs “This time it will be different.” The enemy has us snookered into believing it will not turn out the same this time and guess what? It does; and the cycle of devastation begins again.
I finished a rather long drawn out answer to his question by saying, “Turning your life around isn’t something you can do. It isn’t even something you just decide to do. It’s more like being so wrung out that your only option is to give up and let God do it.” That’s how it happened for me. I had tried and tried to convince Tracey I was a different man and can you believe she didn’t believe me? I finally just told God “You have to prove to her I mean business.” That’s when the change took place. I finally came to the end of my trying and told God “You have to do this because I can’t!” Wow! What a revelation, huh? I can’t do it.
When it comes to these things in our lives we can’t stop or keep under control we see them as horrible, but God sees them as the means that’s going to lead us to him. If it wasn’t for these negative things in our lives we would forever be trapped in the lie of independence from God. We would live all of our days believing we can handle our lives and the problems ourselves. Once we come to our senses and admit to God we can’t run our lives the turn around will begin. As time goes by we will learn to say with the Apostle Paul “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”