One of the mantras that I’ve heard for a while is, “Change before you have to.” I wasn’t always sure what that meant, but I’ve found out a few times in my life and wished I had. Many times the Holy Spirit has sounded the warning alarms in my life, and many of those times I’ve hit the snooze button. His warnings are letting us know that if we continue on the path we’re on, we’re headed for trouble. When I’ve disregarded them, I’ve fallen flat on my face and gone through some painful times as a result of my sin. Sometimes I’m so hard headed and want to do things my own way that the only way I’ll listen or make the necessary changes in my life are to go through a painful time so that next time I’ll listen. God is more concerned with our holiness than our comfort.
It’s hard to put some things in perspective as you read the Bible. In some books, you may cover hundreds of years of history. I keep thinking, “How did they mess up again so quickly? Why won’t they learn?” Yet, their track record is better than mine a lot of the times. In Deuteronomy 30:19 God said He sets before us life and death, blessings and cursing, and that the choice is ours. He wants us to choose life, but when we don’t, their are painful consequences to help us to turn back to Him and to remind us not to go down that path again. It works for a while, but our brains are bent toward trying to do things our way instead of His. Pain is often one of the best motivators for our brain, and it can condition it to not repeat mistakes.
God knows you and I aren’t perfect. He knows we’re going to mess up. Thankfully He doesn’t wipe His hands clean of us and give up. His grace is greater than our biggest mistakes and His offer of forgiveness is open to us. God will do whatever it takes to bring us back, even if it means pain, discomfort or embarrassment. Proverbs 20:30 says, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways” (GNT). He knows there are a lot of stubborn people like myself who need those painful reminders to come back home. The Prodigal Son lasted in his painful experience as long as he could before he finally decided to go back home. You and I have the same opportunity to return to a waiting Father who will run to us, love us and put the family robe and ring back on our finger if only we will return.