When's the last time you realized that as much as you thought your life might be better if you changed in some way, you found that you lacked the desires to make it happen? As a pastor I've talked with hundreds of people after church services or who sat in my office or who told me over lunch, that they'd like to change, but that they lacked the desire to change.
For many people, change is something that only happens when the pain of their lives pushes them to look desperately for it. From divorce to a life-controlling addiction to bankruptcy court or a health crisis, it's often profound trouble that leads many people to seek life-sweeping change and a personal inventory that results in the kind of painful, honest self-analysis that leads to difference in people's lives.
A couple weeks ago, someone even sent me an email asking about this very issue. Read their words:
"But so often, when tempted, I give in. It's a struggle and a battle...I think it comes down to desire....Our desires need to change...So here's the big question - how can we change our desires? It's not just willpower and gritting your teeth. That might work for awhile...It's not a head-knowledge thing...We know how we should be living...We need our hearts changed...Somehow God needs to change our desires...Of course at salvation, so many of our desires are turned upside down...But in this Christian walk, there are still areas of struggle....God needs to change my heart, my longings, my desires...Now I'm sure there are things we do to cooperate in this miracle. But I would be interested in hearing you share on this sometime...What are the very practical things that we can do that can begin to see God's Spirit change us?"
For me, lasting change comes as I apply myself to spiritual disciplines over a long period of time. Prayer, fasting, reading/learning/meditating/memorizing God's word, spending time worshipping, giving, and with God's people--these are the paths that lead to transformation in my life on the deep level of desire.
Some of the times of deepest spiritual change in my life--where my desires changed and I made the deepest, most honest inventory of the kind of person I was and of the direction of my life--happened as I was studying. During my university and graduate studies, I found my heart shifted by what I learned from God's word.We expect miracles in prayer or supernatural encounters or prophetic words to bring instantaneous and lasting change.
The fact is, change on the level of our desires rarely arises from anything quick, but from applying myself to those routes that take time and discipline.
However, just as no get-rich-quick schemes are ever effective, so the road to personal transformation is a long and deliberate one, but leads to lasting life change.