“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).
He was a huge man in his thirties, weighing more than 350 pounds. He was also an unhappy man who was desperate to lose weight. He wanted to change. He wanted to be different. He wanted to be converted, because he was obsessed with eating.
He tried every weight program he could find. He researched his problem, and was diagnosed as having an eating disorder. But he did not stop eating, and so he did not fundamentally change his behavior.
Some very radical solutions were tried, one of which was to place a mortgage on his family home he had inherited, take the $30.000 dollars and give it to a health clinic for a relatively brief stay, designed to find the ultimate reason why he could not change. The objective was to alter his lifestyle.
When the health clinic workers could find no medical reason for his obesity, they decided to give the man an ultimate reason for his self-destructive behavior. They told him that he had not properly grieved over the death of his mother, who passed away when he was young. Therefore, he should begin to engage in acts of necromancy. He should communicate with the dead by writing her letters. By doing this his spirit would touch her beyond the grave. And so, the desperate man wrote letters to his dead mother. But he was not converted. He did not change.
Stories like this are not that uncommon. There are countless people who want to be different, but they do not know how to change. In desperation, they are willing to make great financial sacrifices, and engage in extradentary activities to be different. But they are not converted, and therefore, they do not change.
Some of these desperate people are Christians. There are individuals who believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God, and the Savior of the World. They believe that Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day. They know they need to be better, and, to a certain point, they are willing to take extraordinary actions to be different. But they are not yet fully converted. Satan has desired them, and, in some area, dominates a portion of their behavior to the point they engage in a besetting sin, a repetitive sin, a sin which causes them private shame and sorrow.
After the moment of bad behavior has passed, upon reflection, some individuals who still have an unseared conscience, ask themselves, “When will I be different.”
Part of the answer is this.
You will be different when God draws near to you and creates in you a clean heart, and renews a right spirit in you (Psalm 51:13). When will this happen? When you yourself draw near to God. A Royal Promise is given. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8). A person can draw near to God through prayer, through the reading of Scripture, and through holy conversations with a trusted Christian. But it takes time. William D. Longstaff (ca. 1882) encourages Christians to take time to be holy.
“Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
If you are too busy to worship God, if you are too busy to pray, if you are too busy to care for your eternal soul, if you are too busy to be converted, you are too busy.
“Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.”
As you draw near to God, submit to the Lordship of Christ.
“Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.”
As you draw near to God, determine to bring each thought and each impulse, and each motive beneath His control. This is done by simple obedience. When the Spirit says not to go to a certain place, do not go. When the Spirit directs you to go to bed, or read the Bible, or to hold your tongue, obey. Do not suppress the truth that what you are about to do is a violation of the known will of God. Do not be willful, for that is the source for the storms of life. The conscience is being violated.
“Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.”
When will you be different? You will be different when God creates a clean heart, and renews a right spirit in you, because you honestly confess all your transgressions, as David did.
Again, you will be different when Jesus prays for you as He did for Peter. “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” Because Jesus is the Great High Priest, He can pray for you sinner, and He will. Ask Him specifically to remember you, and make intercession on your behalf. Be conscious of this particular work of the Redeemer and appropriate it. Plead with the Lord, as Fanny Crosby did (1868).
“Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.
Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.
Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief;
Kneeling there in deep contrition,
Help my unbelief.
Trusting only in Thy merit,
Would I seek Thy face;
Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
Save me by Thy grace.
Thou the spring of all my comfort,
More than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside Thee,
Whom in Heav’n but Thee.”
Would you be different?
Look to the Living Lord to change you, not the dead. “The way to Jesus is not by Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, or the poets. It is . . . an old-fashioned hill called Calvary.” (Gypsy Smith).
Honestly confess sin, and ask Jesus to pray for you in this very hour.
If God is merciful, in due time, you will be converted. You will be fundamentally, and forever different.
But, you must pray, you must draw near to God, you must confess sin, and you must plead with Jesus to be your High Priest, and pray for you personally, and He will.