HINDRANCES TO GODLY THINKING
In part three we explored how unforgiveness hinders us from walking in the freedom Christ desires for us. Paul states Christ’s desire for us in , “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
In this blog let’s take a look at a principle that, if overlooked, will keep us stuck on our journey into wholeness: the power of choice.
My husband, Ron, has crafted a powerful saying about the power of choice:
“God’s way is the best way. I am free to choose any way I want, but I’m not free to avoid the consequences of my choice. My life right now is the sum total of the choices I have made. I cannot choose what other people say and do, but I am free to choose how I respond to what others say and do that affect me. Right now, I am experiencing my life as a result of the responses I have chosen.”
Wow…so if I don’t like my life right now, I need to take a look at the choices I have made up to this point in my life. It is hard to embrace that truth, especially if we have had traumatic events in our lives when others have sinned against us and wounded us. We are ready to heal and walk deeper into wholeness when we quit blaming others for our problems and begin to ask the Lord: “What is in me that you want to change to be more like Jesus? What patterns of thinking have I chosen that have brought me to this place of desperation and being stuck? What do you want to show me?”
This posture of humility and taking responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings and behavior in no way says that all the things done to you were okay. It does, however, bring you out of a problem-oriented mindset into a solution-oriented mindset. Humility, agreeing with God, leads us to a pathway of discovery with the Holy Spirit. Pride, choosing our own way, takes us down a path to death, destruction and separation from God. We choose those paths with every decision w make in everyday life.
We were created with the power of choice because God wants us to choose Him, not be coerced into relationship with Him. Jesus wholeheartedly wants us to choose life. We are invited to “…choose life in order that you may live…” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
I can feel the yearning in God’s heart in His question to Adam in Genesis 3:9, “Where are you?” Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and went into hiding in shame because of that choice. But God still wanted relationship with them. Do you hear the desire God had for them in these simple three words…”Where are you?” He has the same desire for us. We are always invited to choose Him. The sad reality is, we make poor choices, usually out of ignorance (sometimes rebellion) that hinder us from walking in His ways of freedom.
“It is very freeing to realize that other people do not get to define you. Your past failures, sins and disappointments do not get to define you. Your circumstances do not get to define you. Your enemy does not get to define you. Your critics do not get to define you. Only God, in His infinite wisdom, gets to define who you are and what you do in life.” (“Journey Into Wholeness,” Rev. Dr. Carolyn R. Allen, p 73)
Henri Nouwen puts it this way: “Spiritual identity means we are not what we do or what people say about us. And we are not what we have. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God.” (www.brainyquote.com)
Having the power to choose is a function of the will. When we submit our lives to Jesus Christ, we are submitting our will to His will. It is no longer “I will do what I want to do,” but “Not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) This is a voluntary yielding to His will.
It is important to make our choices with intention. Some questions to ask ourselves as we are pondering a situation might be: What decisions will make room for Kingdom of God fruit to be grown and matured? What thoughts will lead to a godly outcome? What are God’s thoughts about this choice I’m about to make?
Many times we forget to ask God help us make a choice He would make. We press ahead and when we get in trouble we wonder how we arrived at the destination we didn’t want. Have some intentional dialogues with God about the decisions you are making now. If you are stuck because of past decisions, PAL (Pause, Ask, Listen): “Holy Spirit, what thoughts produced the results I am living right now? What thoughts do you want me to embrace to walk out of the current results and into the freedom you have for me?”
We are equipped with the provision and the power to make a godly choice and to apply the implications of that choice to daily life. That is the life of Jesus Christ living in and through us. (Galatians 2:20)
We can walk in freedom because He has given us the gift to choose His way and His thoughts! Changing how we think about making choices can change our lives!
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and give Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NAS)
Rev. Dr. Carolyn Allen has partnered in pastoral ministry with her husband, Ron, for 50 years. She has seen and lived a wide spectrum of church life in rural churches, suburban and city parishes. She has experienced several streams of the expressions of the Body of Christ.
Carolyn has a Masters in Christian Counseling and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies. Her own journey into wholeness evolved while raising a family and caring for others. She is an ordained minister on staff at the Heartland Parish, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Carolyn recently published Journey Into Wholeness, a book that helps you learn foundational biblical principles that will lead you through practical ministry and personal application. Learning to ask key questions will enable the reader to evaluate thoughts that produce feelings that lead to ungodly behavior, if not challenged and changed.
Journey Into Wholeness is available on Amazon: www.amazon.com
You can reach Rev. Dr. Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.