Have you ever tried to eat dry beans?  They aren’t very good on their own. Many people prefer to buy canned beans because it takes such a long time to prepare the dry beans.  For those of you who have never cooked dry beans, you have to look through them and pick out any dirt clods or pebbles that were missed when the beans were packaged.  Then you cover them with water and let them sit over-night.  After they have soaked all night, you drain the old water off, rinse them, and then put them in fresh water.  Next, it is time to cook them for about 2 hours . . . but don’t add any salt yet, or they will not be soft.  Now that they are cooked, you can add whatever salt and spices you want as well as meat and/or other vegetables.  After all of this is done, you have a dish that is delicious and filling.  It takes time.

That’s how our walk with God is too.  We want our relationship with God to be like opening a can of beans . . . instant gratification!  Salvation is instant, but walking with God after we are saved requires change, and change takes time.  When we first trust Jesus as our Savior, we aren’t used to walking with God, we are used to doing things our own way.  If our lifestyles don’t reflect our rebellion toward God, our hearts certainly do.  It takes time and discipline to form new habits and attitudes. Romans 5:1-5 says:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Oh how I want to be a person of character, hope, and love!  May God continue to develop these things in my life as I walk with Him.  The process of being made into something beautiful never ends as long as we are alive.  God uses everything we face to make us more like Jesus.  It isn’t pleasant to go through hard times, but we don’t go through it alone!  God promises to be with us through it all!  Deuteronomy 31:6 says:

Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes  with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you.

Knowing that God is with us gives us the strength to remain faithful and not give up on following God wholeheartedly. The Bible says in James 1:2-3 that we can even have joy in the middle of the hard times!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

God isn’t going to force us to follow him in this way.  We can go through life hard, refusing let Him change us, refusing to serve others, refusing to let them see the glory of God shining out of a life that’s made more like His Son.  I will warn you that it is a miserable existence.  That’s why Paul gave the early Church this challenge in  Romans 12:1-2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I am on this journey of being transformed.  Learning to trust God through every circumstance.  Some days I trust Him and live joyfully, other times I struggle and have anxiety, stress, and discouragement.  But I am not giving up because the can of “instant” that the enemy is trying to sell me is a lie!

How about you?  Are you committed to letting God transform you so that you can become good over time?