Can the process be “short-circuited”?
Over the past couple years, I have been reflecting on the difference between “acceptance” of Chirst and truly “following” Christ. In our blog post, America’s Best Hope Conference – George Barna, Barna outlines a destination of Christ-likeness and a typical process most must go through which we liken to the sanctification process. A key point in this process is “brokenness”. As written in the blog post:
“Barna, others, and myself via firsthand experience would say that in order for life transformation to truly happen, one has to go through a period of brokenness. Barna listed a few key life events or crisis that their research has shown normally lead to this brokenness. They are: a painful divorce, prison, natural disaster, and a couple others I don’t recall. The point here being that they are very significant crisis in one’s life that can’t be overcome without Jesus.”
I encourage you to go back a read this post as it will give you a better idea of the “destination” I’m speaking and the process outlined. I also would emphasize that in this 10 step process, “acceptance” is #4 and “brokenness” is #7 which is still not the ultimate destination.
Adding to this, if you’re a follower, you likely have seen my post related to desert experiences and times of waiting. While we sometimes don’t appreciate it in our reading, most leaders in the Bible went through a period of “waiting” or “desert experience” prior to God being able to truly utilize them for His purposes. It’s during this period of waiting in the desert that our faith is truly tested, we truly die to our own selfish desires, and we learn to truly trust Him. For those of you who have experienced this firsthand, you know exacting what I’m referring.
So, the question I’m asking is whether this process can be short-circuited? More specifically, I “accepted” Christ when I was in middle school; however, my period of “brokenness” didn’t begin until my late 30’s and early 40’s. To some extent, as I enter my mid-40’s I’m still in a time of waiting in the desert learning how to truly surrender my life to Christ. Using my firsthand example, what would have had to happen in my life to shorten this transformation such that I was truly following Jesus in the manner I am today back in my teens or twenties? Or, did I have to go through these years of life experiences to come to the realization that I needed to depend on Christ versus myself?
Yes, I believe with Christ all things are possible and that some people have done an entire 180 with “acceptance” immediately followed by truly “following” Christ at a heart level. However, even in most of these cases, “brokenness” came prior to “acceptance” which once again challenges whether or not the process can be short circuited.
Well, now that I have you pondering, let me say that I do believe it can be shortened; however, I also believe you have to go through brokenness to truly experience Christ-likeness. I believe and know that God has used others people stories to include those contained with in the Bible to encourage me and accelerate the process of transformation or sanctification. It’s because of this that I am so committed to sharing my story and leading mentoring environments through student ministry, Truth@Work, this blog, and other relationships. My hope and prayer is that God will use me to accelerate the process for many such that they don’t go through the years of self-reliance I was so greatly deceived. As I sit with people in there teens and twenties, I often share that “only if I could have known what I know today at an earlier age.”
With that said, only Christ can transform someone’s heart. Thus, as a disciple of Christ, all we can do is “go”, “teach” and “encourage” (Matthew 28), recognizing everyone has their own personal journey which they must experience. For some, that will still be 40 years in the desert, for others it may only be a period of a few years, and, yet, for others they will never understand what I mean.
My encouragement to you is to “surrender all” to Jesus and watch Him work in your life sooner than later!