For the first several years as a Christian I used to indulge in a secret fantasy that I rarely admitted to anyone. I used to dream that somehow, I would receive a telegram from heaven saying "No-one's Home". I would dream about how my life would be different if I wasn't a Christian, and wish I wasn't so darned wholeheartedly convinced that it's actually true.
Recently I found my mind slipping once again in the direction of wondering how my life would be if I wasn't a Christian and I realised something that worried me at first. I realised that my life wouldn't look all that different if I got that telegram. It worried me because I thought "This is not a good sign. There ought to be a real, measurable difference between the life and values of a Christian and someone who is not" and began the usual panic that regularly befalls the over-sensitive Christian, wondering if I had ever been born again at all.
However, as I thought it through I realised that it was not because my life hadn't changed since I'd become a Christian (that genuinely would be a reason for alarm bells to ring, as a Christian life without regeneration and transformation is one that needs to be examined). The difference was that I had changed from a position of hating God's laws to loving them and agreeing with them. Psalm 119:97 says "Oh how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long." I realised I had come to a point where that had actually begun to make sense to me. Along with the verse below that stares me in the face every morning when I eat my breakfast:
I used to look at the verse and think "I know what the desires of my heart are, and I'm 100% sure God isn't about to give me any of those." What I didn't realise is that God doesn't deny us our desires, but he changes what our desires are in the first place. If I got that telegram, my life wouldn't look much different because I am convinced of the rightness of the way that God says life should be lived, to the extent that it would remain right even if it was earthly, not heavenly wisdom.
What this means in practice is that I am now a far more 'cheerful giver'. It's much easier and more pleasant to give a gift that's deserved, that the recipient has asked for to someone you love than it is to give something you love, to someone you bitterly resent for asking for it. Even and especially if the gift is very, very expensive. Either way the recipient gets the gift, but the latter is far more civilised for all involved.
Of course I am not saying that everything I do is in agreement with God and I am almost indistinguishable from the living Lord Jesus himself. All I am saying is that for far more things than before, when I do, think or say something that is wrong, I agree that it was wrong. I guess you could say it's like growing out of adolescence. As a teenager it drove me mad that my parents told me what I could and couldn't do. I was a comparatively obedient teenager but my obedience was not in line with my desires or personal judgement. As an adult, I'm still tempted to do many of the things the teenaged me was fond of, but I am able to see for myself why those things are not what's best for me. There's no-one making me make those choices anymore, but now I choose to make them (most of the time). The results are almost the same but there are far fewer tantrums and slammed doors.
This in turn made me realise something else - something that totally crushed my pride. You can read about that in Part 2...
Oddbabble: Thinks that serialising her posts will increase her readers exponentially.