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His hand is stretched out still

During our family scripture study, we have been reading the words of Isaiah recently and this phrase seemed to come up several times.

For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

It stuck out at me this time in a way that it never had before.  It seems as if the Lord is expressing his anger at the evil that exists in men and the poor way that we sometimes treat each other.  He is angry at the witnessing of dishonest and wicked things that we humans can do.

BUT HIS HAND IS STRETCHED OUT STILL.

No matter how bad we mess up, He still has his hand outstretched to take us back, as soon as we are willing to go up and take that hand.

I would certainly hope that the things that I and my family have to repent of, or change, in our lives are not on the level of the “abominations” that are talked about in these Isaiah chapters, but even small habits that we want to change, or that we can feel the Lord guiding us to change, can feel big when we are in the middle of working on them.

Changing a habit can be really hard, and sometimes it can take a long time.

In the book “Changing for Good” by James O. Prochaska, It is pointed out the just a short time ago, 50% of people were smokers, and now only 25% of people smoke.  What was amazing about this study is that a large majority of these people (about 20:1) quit smoking using their own methods or helps, as opposed to using some type of program.  (Doing it on their own, does not mean that they didn’t have friends or family members helping. We all do better with the support of those who care about us.)

I personally know several people who have quit smoking.  The interesting thing about each of them is that they all tried to quit smoking several times, (sometimes quitting for a period of time and then going back to it) before they were able to quit for good.  I don’t think these few people are isolated in this pattern of quitting.

The most important part of their stories is that they were eventually successful at attaining their goal of being a non-smoker.

Why do I bring up smoking statistics in a post about making change?  I think that quitting smoking is probably the hardest habit to break (maybe outside of other drug addictions.)

Each person that I know finally quit because of a different reason in each of their lives.  There was no quick fix or automatic tool that works for everyone.  They each simply kept at it until they found a way to be rid of an undesirable habit.

Getting rid of a bad habit, or trying to develop a good habit, takes time.  That’s because habits are associated with time.  We developed them over time, and we continue them in specific times.  We often do the thing that is a habit at the same time each day, or week, as the individual case may be.  Perhaps, understanding this will help in the changing of habits.

The most important thing that we can each keep in mind, as we are working to make any change in our lives, is to know that it is okay if we fail the first several times. If we are doing something really important, a few falls (or relapses) can be expected. If it were easy, you would have already made the change.  After all, the only real failure is giving up and not trying again.

Satan wants all of us to fail for good, he wants us to give up.

When you are trying to change and do something that is truly important, that is when Satan is going to come down hard on you.  He really wants you to give up, feel bad about yourself, and be as miserable as he is.

That is when we need to remember what Isaiah taught us,

But His hand is stretched out still.

It’s okay if what you want to change takes time. It’s okay if you fall and have to get back up.  It’s okay if the thing that you need to change takes all of the strength that you have, and you need to rely on added strength that comes from turning to God, because His hand is stretched out still.  He will be there for you… always!!

Change can be good, especially change for the right reasons. But change that takes all of your effort to be successful can be the most rewarding change of all.

We only have a small amount of time of this earth, and we should be working to improve a little each day.  As long as we care enough to keep trying and remember to turn to the Lord for help and forgiveness when we need it, we can each become the joy-filled, wonderful person that God wants each of us to be.

 

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