Sin, our choice not to trust God, will never change into a desire to trust him as long as we are listening to all of the other voices telling us who we should be, how we should live, or what we should do.
Rules, rituals, religion, tradition, and the opinions of others have only enough power to change us at a surface level. They may help us exchange unhealthy behaviors for socially acceptable ones, but we will have no peace until we choose for ourselves to obey God.
For example, we may exchange our smoking habit for the more socially acceptable indulgence of eating a pastry. Or release our energy through working out instead of through masturbation. But even though our what has changed, our why has stayed the same.
Why does anyone need a high of any sort—nicotine, sugar, adrenaline, sexual release? Because God has not become so real to their hearts that he satisfies them. God knows what onlookers do not: our hearts. “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7 ESV).
God knows the pocket within each of us that holds everything that’s happened to us. He sees the whole story, the reason why we do what we do. He knows how stuck we feel, how numb, paralyzed, or cold we’ve become because of all of the pain and regret inside our hurt pockets.
God also knows that his truth will not become real to us as long as we are exchanging behaviors. That’s why he doesn’t get his feathers ruffled by our displays of sin. He knows what humans struggle with most, that once our reality rests in him, our sinful behaviors will work themselves out on their own.
God doesn’t want us to repent of our sin because we think we should. He wants us to own it, a decision that we make for ourselves not because we think we have to but because we want to.
Life is one big, leading question with God as the answer. Even Satan knew better than to tell Eve what she should do. Telling her to eat the fruit would not be personal enough to change her from the inside. It may have been dramatic enough to change her mind or feelings, but only through reasoning inside her life would Eve form a new belief that would change herself and the world around her.
Satan can speak only to our what, the external pieces of our lives—words and actions, what we do and say. But God will always speak to our why—our hearts, motives, beliefs, desires, wants.
When God speaks, our hearts cannot help but be nagged, drawn, intrigued, or compelled to attention. For only God speaks with the authority of eternity to the whole picture of our past, present, and future as it matters to heaven.
Voices are speaking to us even now. One voice whispers a lie that divides our humanity and separates us from others. The other speaks a truth that makes us wholly known and eternally accepted.
And while the voices’ message differs, they both speak the loudest in our pain. We are never more keenly aware of the voices speaking to us than in our weakest moments: when we need, when we lose control, when we fall short of someone’s expectations, when we stand in front of a mirror and view our aging, sagging, frail, mortal bodies.
The more often we choose to listen to the voice of God, the more convinced we will become that God sees our weaknesses differently than we do. Not as embarrassing moments we need to dismiss or dilute with drunkenness but as useable material. What seem like scraps to us are God’s best resources to prove his love for us once and for all.
Kasey Van Norman is a professional counselor, Bible teacher, and the author of the books and study series, Nothing Wasted, Named by God, and Raw Faith. Kasey writes and teaches about the love that redeemed her life from the shame of past abuse, addiction, infidelity, and, strengthened her through a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. Kasey travels and teaches thousands each year as a ministry event speaker. She lives in College Station, Texas with her husband, Justin, and their two children, Emma Grace and Lake.
In Nothing Wasted, counselor and teacher Kasey Van Norman shares how God revealed his specific plan for her life through the most unlikely, embarrassing, and painful seasons of her past. Her vulnerability invites you to discover God’s personal and purposeful design for your future, not in spite of your story, but through it.