I’ve often been mystified as to what it is that underlies change—true, life-giving, sustained change.
We change because we desperately want to change, because we see that we can no longer bear not to change, or because changing seems the only way—where to survive is to thrive.
It’s like the idea that a person who is challenged against their will is of their original opinion still. Things don’t change unless they change.
And change must come from the heart.
Last night I wrote about the issue of apology, and that if there were no action, i.e. sustained behaviour change, that the apology was null and void.
But that article begged a more fundamental question: how do people change? I know when I’ve changed, when I’ve been convicted that I had to change, there was a groundswell from within; I could no longer be who I was.
Like when I committed to bodybuilding to firm up a soft body as a twenty-year-old transformed in a year. Or, when I gave up smoking. Or, when I became a teetotaller. Or, when I became truly Christian after playing the game for more than a dozen years to my own peril. And, most virulently, when I decided I would no longer, not ever again, live a lie. I was convinced that the former life held no attraction for me. It was as if it repulsed me. I had to leave it. That life had to leave me.
Each time it happened, my heart changed. God had done open-heart surgery.
The very best of these times in any of our lives is when we’re so convicted and convinced our way was wrong that we want never ever again to live for ourselves. That we were ready to live for God, sold out to His purposes, and were entirely ready for Him who is all to replace that heart of stone we had with a heart of flesh that could only come from Him.
Such a miracle took place in and from within us.
We changed. And anyone who reads these words who doubts, I pray that this change that springs upon us like a thief in the night would happen to you, too, to make you a believer; that God alone, who stirs the stars into cycle, brightens hope at His merest suggestion.
Change must come from the heart. As someone looks at us having had our hearts changed, they stand as witnesses that the old is gone and that the new has come. And only God could do it. Only God does it!
So, if someone is to apologise from their heart, in all sincerity, to be able to change themselves even as they’re changed, they probably need to be intersected by God.
The heart is the nerve centre of the human being and no change is sustained without it starting it, having been convinced it was the only way.
What is it that brings change? It is a change of heart. Nothing is behind repentance other than a change of mind that is sustained by a change of heart.