Have you ever asked God to give you more of him and less of you? If so, what happened next? I guarantee that it wasn’t unicorns and rainbows!
When we ask God to change us, we are asking for a process.We are asking him to apply pressure to our lives in order to make us look more like him. However, when we ask God to make us over we don’t really think about the what that entails.
I’d like to submit to you the following scripture that is found within the story of Noah:
Genesis 7:21 “And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man” (KJV)
For context: God resolved to destroy the earth because of perversion between the sons of God and the human women. Ultimately, when the sons of God and the human women mated they produced children. The wickedness of man provoked God to destroy the earth, and he regretted making mankind. However, due to a covenant with God, the Lord spared Noah and everyone connected to him. God warned Noah that there would be a flood on the earth that would wipe out all life. And, due to his plan to repopulate the Earth, Noah was to build an ark that was big enough to house two of every type of animal, and Noah’s family. After Noah built the ark according to the specific instructions provided, and peopled the ark with pairs of animals, God sent the 40 day/night flood.
And, in verse 21, the bible is specific to tell that 6 things died in the flood: flesh, fowl, cattle, beast, every creeping thing, and man. I believe these six deaths are representative of God’s intrinsic cleansing process. God will blot out and kill everything that is unlike him in your life, and it starts with the following:
- All flesh: Personally, my desire to be in a relationship with a man drove me to compromise in some of my moral decisions and faith. While there is nothing wrong with desiring to be with someone, but when the desire is intensely magnified it leads to perversion. When we put anything before God that thing becomes an idol and thus perverted. Because I suffered with identity issues I thought that a relationship would anesthetize the pain. Therefore, I stayed when I should have left. I bent when I should have stood strong. I gave up parts of me to fill voids in someone else’s life. And, it was I that went through a tough process that I thought would kill me. Our flesh, if unchecked, has the proclivity to lead us away from God. In fact, our flesh loves nothing more than to do as the world does. But, we were brought with a price and our lives are not our own. Therefore, we cannot live by the world’s standards, but by the standards that God has set for us. And, God sets different standards for different people. He gives us a variety of convictions that appeal to our lives, and our uniqueness in the earth. God is a God of perfection, and if we are made in his image we should aspire to be like him. This is why he starts first with the part of you that is unlike him…your desires.
- Fowl: There are certain things that fly high in people’s lives that are seemingly untouchable. Pride is one of them! Pride comes from the spirit of Leviathan and is a stiff neck spirit. Pride attempts to set itself above everything and everyone. I like to think of it as the “I will” spirit. When satan was kicked out of heaven he gave a list of “I will’s” in his heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-15). As a result satan was cast into hell for his rebellion. Therefore, pride and rebellion are relatives and function to move us far from the plans of God. The bible also tells that one of the things that God hates is a proud look (Proverbs 6:17). When I got my bachelor’s degree I was very prideful. While there is nothing wrong with being happy about my accomplishments, the spirit of pride crept and I started to look down son people who I perceived to be uneducated. Over time, God stripped me down to nothing. How could I be prideful when the eyes of my understanding were opened to my shortcomings? In essence, at various times in my life God held up a mirror and showed me my dysfunction. He did so not to punish me, but to humble me. Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18) and God loves us too much to allow us to self-destruct.
- Cattle: The common sins. Cows do not evoke a high level of excitement because they are normal inhabitants of the land. Therefore, if we pass a farm on a car ride there might be mention of seeing a cow, but nothing worth having a long conversation about. Today, this is how we view lying, stealing, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, envy etc. Somehow we have become desensitized to these sins, and pass them off as “normal.” Why are we unbothered my the “small” sins? News flash: There is nothing small about sin, and there is nothing normal about it either. We have to remember that sin is foreign to God, it is something that he does not relate to; therefore, being that we are daughters of Christ it should also be foreign to us. When we become so desensitized to common sins I believe we go through a process. If we are called to be children of light why do we justify sin? I’m not just talking about excusing when others sin, but also the sin in our lives. Personally, in the area of my finances I was once outright rebellious. Yes I knew what the scriptures warn, and was knowledgeable about the standard the God set for my finances. Yes, I felt the tugging in my spirit, but I outright overruled them. I did not want to budget, nor did I want to discipline myself in this area. I didn’t want to cut back because I’ve always lived a delayed gratification life. I wanted what I wanted and I didn’t care what God wanted. I was in rebellion and that is a sin, but I reasoned that “everyone has a struggle.” Yes, everyone has a struggle, but mine was intentional. I did not have to struggle if I submitted my desires unto the Lord. And, I probably wouldn’t have had to climb my way out of debt either.
- Beast:While we might think that cattle and beast are interchangeable they aren’t. In fact, they must be treated as distinctively because they are significantly different. Found in dark lairs, dungeons, or deep in the jungles, beasts are scary in appearance. Hidden deep in your family there are beasts. That generational curse that follows your last name. Those proclivities and mindsets that all the women have in your family, whether its fornication, cursing, or bad attitude, they are contrary to God. Familial struggles, or sins are deep within our identity. We ascribe to them long before we know it. Sometimes we don’t have the choice to opt out of the toxic ways of thinking for years. For example, I hail from a long lineage of strong black women. Not strong because they want to be, but strong because they have to be. Somewhere in their lives they got off the road–no matter how short–that God had for them, and it made them hard in certain areas. Their hardness bled over into their parenting, and as single mothers, their ideologies about life was passed like a torch. While I admire the strength of the women in my family, there are moments when I question it. How much of their strength is masked hurt? God revealed to me some of my familial beasts, and one was strength. I believe that women are called to be strong, but when human strength attempts to replace the power and reverence of God it is wrong. I’ll be the first to admit that I operated a lot in my own strength, and it led me to some pretty ugly times.
- Every creeping thing: These are the things that fly under the radar, or aren’t known unless people get very close to you. The word creep means to move slowly and carefully, especially in order to avoid being heard or noticed. When something creeps into your life it attaches itself to you overtime. The change is so gradual that it goes unnoticed. Have you ever heard people say “That’s just the way I am?” Did you ever ask them when they got that way? In essence, they are saying that their personality is the essence of who they are, and they can’t change. However, there is a difference between not being able to change, and refusal to change! People are not born certain ways, but they learn the behavior as time progresses. For instance, children are not unforgiving. In fact, they can be upset one second, and want to play the next. However, when watching adults, children pick up on the verbal and nonverbal cues that are communicated. Overtime they learn how to hold a grudge without being directly coached. So I ask you, what creeping thing has attached itself to your personality? When did it come? When God is cleansing you, he begins to show you when certain doors were opened. For me, certain doors were opened when I was so young that I completely forgot about them. However, now brought back to my remembrance I had deal with them.
- Man: Your will must go too! Now this is a big one. Because God gave us the ability to choose between he and the world, your will attempt to rise up and fight God. In order to successfully follow and live as Christ we have to trade our will for his. In the Lord’s prayer we pray for God’s will to be done one earth as it is in heaven. And, when Jesus prayed in Gethsemane he asked God to take the bitter cup from him, but followed up with acknowledging the will of God. Yes, Jesus wanted to opt out of the process, but he didn’t because he submitted his will to the Father. In the same way, we have to learn to resolve within ourselves to submit to the perfect will of God. In my life, I didn’t think that I would ever get to a point where I would be able to lay down my will for God’s. I lived such a rebellious, and self-centered life that it seemed like I was too far gone. However, in God’s faithfulness, he processed me so intensely that I now pray the same prayer as Christ.
In standing on shaky ground we are just where God wants us. Think it not strange that you feel like you’re dying because you are metaphorically. Everything that is contrary to the likeness of Christ is staving, and the process is painfully beautiful. But, I want you to take courage in knowing that you’re in the process to come out as pure gold. In Genesis God wiped the earth clean with a flood, and everything that he did not approve of, died in the water. Think of baptism this way. When we go down into the water, anything unlike Christ dies there. While we might not initially feel any different, we are spiritually cleansed.
Blessings sisters! xoxo
About the Author: Briana Whiteside is a Phd student and teacher in English at the University of Alabama. While her concentrated research largely focuses on literary texts, Briana realized that her walk with Christ largely informed the way she read literature. Concentrating on spirituality in the narratives of black women, this Chicago native realized the importance of personal spiritual growth, and has committed to positioning herself in a constant state of becoming. Moreover, Briana is devoted to serving as a role model advocating for women in to discover their identity in Christ. Her blog womenofroyaltyblog.wordpress.
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