The heartbreaking thing is that even when you know what is right to do and apply yourself to it with God’s strength, it may not change your situation for the better. Obedience is not a magic key that unlocks doors, and right choices do not always smooth the paths you walk. The results are more often in my own heart, but that’s hard to take when I know the struggle it took to get this far, and if such heart-upheaval can’t produce tangible effects in the world then why am I even trying?
We have this sense that right choices, right words, right actions should work out righteousness in the world around us. We’re not too far wrong– that knowledge was built into us from the Beginning: a foundation laid into this creation of action and reaction, cause and effect, and God the First Cause: “By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” (Hebrews 11:3) God created worlds with His divine will, divine words– His perfection and beauty reflected in tangible form in a way never before seen. And man was made steward of what God spoke into being, given authority over creation to act and choose good for all He had made. I wonder if Adam understood just how big that choice was; he could not have known how the world would groan and labor under the working out of his actions, turning everything “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Man’s relationship to God was reflected in tangible form in creation’s response to him, for good or for ill.
Maybe that’s the mercy of choices now, that our power is so much limited, reigning in our ability to destroy. The desire and the knowledge may linger, but the only real power we are left with is to change our own hearts. And maybe that’s where it matters most, because that is where the battle for power is being fought. When the Beloved One chose good for us, because we could not for ourselves, He was again acting as First Cause, wrestling with Darkness on our behalf to work out righteousness in the world. His choices, His words, His actions making all things new, to regain His rightful rule one heart at a time.
And He says to us now that it does matter what we do, how we respond to His re-creation, and wrestling to make the right choices does change the world, even if the evidence is unseen and only He knows. Because if He rules in us, His righteousness will be worked out there, and His beauty and power will be demonstrated in our lives, small seeds that will grow to fill the earth. Jesus told us that His kingdom would begin in the small silent places: “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed…because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20-21)
We get frustrated because we can’t change hunger and poverty, stop violence, heal marriages, rescue children, build a society that lasts… but God goes right to the heart of the matter and transforms the world from the inside out, starting where it matters most– in the dead hidden places of the heart that need to be made alive. So that our choices, words, actions can be for good again, reflect His nature and His righteousness. Because He is building a kingdom that will last forever, and we are the living stones. Be patient and keep on doing the right thing, because only the Builder knows exactly what He is building. “…let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
“I need You to soften my heart
To break me apart;
I need You to pierce through the dark,
And cleanse every part of me.
I may be weak,
But Your Spirit’s strong in me.
My flesh may fail,
But my God,You never will.” (Give Me Faith, Elevation Worship)
“You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14, 16)