Think back to when you were a child, excited and hopeful about the future. No doubt you spent a lot of time imagining what you might do when you were older, fantasizing about being a firefighter, or an astronaut, or a superhero. Personally, I’ve always loved sports, and I used to imagine being the next Jimmy Connors, or the next pitcher in game seven of the World Series.
As adults, I think we tend to drift into a similar sort of thinking when we try to envision a miraculous change in our lives. We wish for God to simply give us a big break or remove a problem from our lives with a metaphorical snap of His fingers. Of course, most of the time that’s not how He chooses to work… but that doesn’t mean we’re not being offered a quiet, personal miracle.
In the New Testament, Jesus talks about how our physical birth has to be mirrored by a new, nonphysical birth of the spirit. Many of those around Him expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman empire and lead their people to a new physical kingdom, but the kingdom He had come to build was spiritual and internal. I believe we are offered miracles every day, but most of them are like that: a chance for spiritual change which begins inside us. Yet they can ripple outward to positively influence every part of our lives.
What’s funny is that realizing this truth—that we are at each moment offered a new, transformed life—isn’t even the hard part. The hard part is accepting it. As good as it is for us, you wouldn’t think that would be so difficult. But we’re so used to imagining our own miracles, fantasizing about what we think will make us happy. Yielding that up doesn’t come naturally.
Not too long ago, I learned about a fascinating translation that certain scholars use for the sin of pride as in scripture. They call it: “vain imagination.” I’ll tell you, that description hits me pretty hard. How often in our daily lives do we approach our problems by thinking of what will make us feel good, or what will make us look good to others? How often do we choose to do something just a little bit selfish, because we tell ourselves we can have it both ways?
One of the great miracles in my life was the day Hope kicked me out of the house. We had a lot of problems at the time. Her depression was a big part of it, but I hadn’t yet realized my own selfishness. Although I was sincerely trying to love Hope, I was trying even more to look after myself—I didn’t really even know what love was.
That event is an excellent example of what I’m talking about, because on the surface, it was the worst day of my life. I felt awful: angry, ashamed, panicked… you name it. What I wanted was for Hope’s depression to be cured and for our relationship to suit my imagination. In short, I wanted my own way. What I got instead was a spiritual change. A quiet, painful miracle that brought me to a life I could never have imagined.
That probably sounds exhausting, but I’ll leave you today with a little encouragement: you never know exactly what you’re going to get when you put the spirit first. Sometimes it will take you through pain, but often you’ll find far less pain than you might expect, and far more peace.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!
Dr. Alex Loyd