Crawling into my sleeping bag, I fluffed my pillow and lay down to gaze at the midnight sky. With the velvety darkness of our remote location, it seemed the sky was ablaze with more stars than I’d ever seen. I immediately spotted the Milky Way and the Big Dipper and wished I knew the names and configurations of the other constellations that burned so brightly.
Each night as I climbed the ladder to the houseboat roof, I looked forward to settling in to enjoy God’s handiwork before drifting off to sleep. Surrounding me were fourteen teenage girls, away for a week of camp with our church youth group. We were one of the twenty-two boats staked on the shores of Lake Shasta to enjoy a week of growing in faith and friendships while participating in team competitions, water sports and nightly worship gatherings. It was a powerful week of experiencing community and basking in God’s love.
Throughout the five days, I continued to be struck by the night sky and how it was a metaphor for the trip. Although the many twinkling stars I admired are always in the sky, it wasn’t until I got away from the lights and pollution of the city that I was able to see them. Similarly, the students and leaders on the trip were accustomed to leading busy lives full of activities, responsibilities and noise. But by removing themselves from the clutter and distraction of daily life, they were available for God’s transforming power to work in and through them. They could see and feel Him consistently.
During the week we had time to discuss biblical truth, to reflect on where we were in our walks with Jesus, to struggle with difficult concepts, to be still before God and to read His Word. We also played hard, laughed often and sang praises to the One who created the beauty that surrounded us. We came home tired, but refreshed; depleted physically but filled spiritually.
Maybe your experience with God is like the night sky I’m accustomed to seeing at home: a few of the brightest stars are visible, but man-made lights and unclean air obscure the majority. We engage God at times, but fail to see the fullness of the life He has to offer because we’re so consumed with doing things on our terms. We want to keep Him contained within our parameters so that life will remain safe and comfortable. When we do this, we forego the beauty of the brilliant night sky because we want security and predictability of a “normal” life. Sadly, this type of living is so focused on controlling our environment that it keeps us from seeing God fully.
In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul invites us to be transformed people that are living sacrifices to God. When we reject the world’s way of thinking and embrace God’s plans for us, we are renewed and transformed. We see Him clearly and allow Him to use us to further His kingdom on earth. Our perspective is changed and we experience the joy and fulfillment of living for Him instead of ourselves.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2, NIV)
Inviting God to transform you is a daily discipline, not a one-time transaction. Over time, He will reveal Himself to you and change you. Ultimately, it’s like getting to see the whole night sky in all of its brilliance. You’ll be left breathless in awe and wonder at the ways God moves and works. You’ll experience the joy of being used by Him when you put your own agenda aside. It isn’t always easy to live this way, but it’s definitely worth it.
Click on the link to hear Phil Wickham’s “This is Amazing Grace.” You’ll be reminded of the rich and abundant life available to us as we live for Jesus and let Him transform us.