William Hardy may not have been an author many of us know much about, but I came across a quote from him which I thought spoke volumes: "The resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible." (found on BrainyQuotes.com) If we think on that thought for just a few moments, we can see the "logic" in it - no man fully recognizes the need to change until the "need to change" is so great he cannot help but recognize it. We don't think about a haircut until our bangs are in our eyes. We don't often remove thread-bare clothing from our closet until we can no longer mend the cloth because of the thinness of the fibers. We might not consider the need for a shower until we see our image in the mirror and notice all the dirt gathered from the day's work. We often don't "do" until we realize there is something which needs to be "done".
So, my brothers and sisters, you owe the flesh nothing! You do not need to live according to its ways, so abandon its oppressive regime. For if your life is just about satisfying the impulses of your sinful nature, then prepare to die. But if you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, you will experience life. If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children. You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. (Romans 8:12-15 VOICE)
It can take us a while to realize we "owe" the flesh and all the demands it makes on us absolutely nothing. In the most literal sense, the "flesh" referred to in scripture are those thoughts, desires, and urges which demand we fulfill them to meet some "perceived need". The issue with following many of these urges is where they lead us. We often find those urges take us into places we didn't want to go, consume things we didn't want to really consume, or engage in activities which do nothing to build us up, but end up tearing us down in some way. This is why Paul tells us that a life lived in the Spirit is one of no longer listening to these urges, but listening to the Spirit's voice within - learning to live according to a new set of desires.
As Hardy said, the desire to change often comes when we are so completely aware of the need to change that we cannot help but recognize change must occur (or else). If we are honest here, the selfish desires of our fleshly ways often take us a while to break free from, don't they? Why do you suppose this is? I think it may be just what Hardy said - we don't really fully embrace the "resolve" or "desire" to change until it is so apparent we need to change that we cannot possibly turn away from the needed change. Resolve is another word for the "will-power" to do something. I don't know about you, but my "will-power" is kind of powerless at times! I have all kind of "resolve", but until the clothes no longer fit, I don't pay attention to the ten pounds I put on! When I can no longer button the waistband comfortably, I somehow pay attention to the need to lose the weight!
I think there is a better way of living we may not fully recognize though. It is the "way" of living by the power of the one who indwells us rather than by the power we can muster up from within ourselves. Let me tell you, drawing power from a different source isn't always the easiest thing, though. As I strung lights for the Christmas season this year, I put them up in both the front and backyard. The front was for the public to enjoy - the back was for mom to enjoy. They looked nice - cheerful, all festive, and celebratory...until the sprinklers came on! The backyard lights went out the first night I had them strung! I had them into a GFC outlet (the type which trips whenever there is any hint of water interrupting the electrical current). I did some research the next day online to find out if I needed to be concerned about the issue and how I could remedy it. After all, I didn't want a fire!
In all the advice I read, it simply said to take the lights off the GFC outlet. The slight bit of water "creeping in" around a lightbulb which may have been changed and not seated as well as originally seated when they came from the factory may have been the "root cause" of the issue, but it wasn't going to burn my house down! So, I had to do some additional work to get electricity to those lights - rerouting the cord to another outlet. I needed to find a "different source" from which to draw the power to illuminate these lights. It required some purposeful restructuring of my original plan. If I had really considered this before I did the original running of power cords, carefully duct taping them down so no one would trip over them, I may have saved myself a whole lot of extra work! In our daily lives, we often don't realize we have the wrong source of power until we realize how easy it is to "interrupt" that power! Get connected to the right source of power, and even the most "pesky" of issues won't be able to interrupt that power!
So, if you are face-to-face with the realization change is necessary in your life today, it isn't that you need to increase your will-power - it is that you need to get a new source of power! We may not see the need to change until it is so very apparent, but when we finally realize it is needed, we will do well to not consider our own efforts to be sufficient for the change - but will tap into the source which not only helps us change, but keeps us "illuminated" and "burning brightly"! Just sayin!