but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
having grown up in and around the southern baptist/bible belt culture, i had the awareness that christians were supposed to act differently. when i first began attending church as a teenager, i associated this solely as a difference in social behavior; a mental list of do's and don'ts. for me, acting differently was just that: an act. one of my own strength and of my own will. oh, i had good-enough intentions. i wasn't simply pretending to be a Christian, i was simply trying to be one. and failing.
i had tried to change my life without allowing God to change my heart.
the Lord doesn't want us to act different, He wants to make us different. we cannot manufacture the "Christian life" with any authenticity apart from His grace. our lives cannot be transformed by anything we do, but only by what He does in us and through us. when that happens, our works are no longer our works; but His work through us.
i'm still grappling with how it all came to be: His redemptive work in my life and in my heart that has permeated the innermost places in me. it is in explicable. undefinable. unprescribable. contemporary christianity has tried to prescribe it with a "plan" of salvation: walking the aisle; praying the prayer; accepting Jesus. the only problem, as David Platt once said, is that "Jesus Himself said none of these things".
what He did say was for us to lay down our lives and follow Him. our act, our only act, is surrender. utter and total surrender. and i'd gladly tell others how that all happens if i understood at all how it happened in my own life. i only know that it was not by anything i did. it is the mystery of God's redemption and delivery: from self-sufficienty to God-dependency; from rebellion to surrender; from bondage to freedom.
just as an eagle dives from a cliff and soars effortlessly, He called me to dive into His love. for so long, i had struggled like a baby bird flung from the nest, furiously flapping. by His grace – and on His wings – I am no longer failing and flailing: i am flying without flapping.