Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. (Psalm 139:13-14)
I oftentimes wonder why it takes so long to see change in my life. I may want to lose 40 pounds, but it seems to take forever to lose even two of those pounds. I wanted to learn to play the guitar, but it took so long to master the chords and I never got onto to the fingering part of the lessons. I wanted to retire, but the goal of retirement seemed so far off, especially when it came to putting extra money away so I would be able to realize the goal. It is going to happen in just about three months - about 1.5 years ahead of schedule, but the journey seemed astronomically long! I want a lot of things to happen, but the length of time it takes to get from zero to whatever the goal is seems very, very long and requires a whole lot of effort.
Why would I expect the 'changes' I desire to see in my spiritual or emotional health to be any different? It is as though I pray one day, asking very sincerely for God to help me change something he has pinpointed in my life, then I get very discouraged when the same issue is still there a week later. I forget one important thing - God is at work 'shaping me' on the INSIDE first - he isn't worried about the outside yet! He needs to get at my heart, mind, and even my very soul in order to bring about that desired change. I may not see him at work, but I can definitely count on the fact that he is doing that work. It is like when I change my eating habits and wonder if that is impacting my cholesterol numbers. I may not see the benefit until the next time I get my blood drawn, but my body is getting healthier even when I cannot see it!
God 'shapes' INSIDE first - the outward work or evidence begins to be manifest. Did you ever observe a house being built? How insane would it be to put up the walls, install the windows, put up the window dressings, and then begin the work of laying the foundation, installing the plumbing, and running the wiring? The foundation is the starting spot, but even before there is a foundation there is a plan! The plan outlines the specific steps that will be taken to get to what is pictured as the 'finished product', but without those steps, in the right order, by the right craftsmen, the house would be 'wonky'. God's shaping on the inside ensures a good foundation is being created that will sustain the work he desires to give 'outward evidence' of in our lives.
We don't always 'see' the inward and sometimes we don't 'sense' it, either. God can be doing a great deal of 'prep work' to get our hearts and minds into the right place so we are ready to hear what he about to ask of us. All of that 'work' is being done without us even being aware it is - although we may sense something is about to happen, we may not have any clue what is just about to break forth from that 'prep work' he has been up to all along. He has a supreme design - he is the expert craftsman - he needs us to trust him with what he is 'up to' in our inward parts. Our minds need to get aligned to his plan - maybe through discovery of that plan in his Word, or because we begin to hear 'seed thoughts' through good sermons and wise counsel. It doesn't matter how he begins the work, our part is to allow him to work on the INSIDE first - not always expecting the 'window dressing' to be there right away. Just sayin!