On Christian Life

This Is the Reason Your Life Hasn’t Changed

Ladders are not my friends. For the most part we get along, but it’s a mutual distrust. We used to be closer, but I was betrayed.

I was doing some paint touch-ups in our great room near the skylights. As we prepped our house to sell, our realtor recommended we clean them up and paint around them. It was an ordeal finding a ladder that could reach that high. My step ladder didn’t quite extend high enough, and I respected ladders enough not to stand on the top rung 15 feet in the air. So I improvised. I stacked cinder blocks 2 high as a platform for each ladder foot in order to raise the ladder up high enough.

I bet you think you know what happened next. Well, you’re only partly right.

Realizing I had pushed my luck with the blocks on 3 of 4 skylights, I looked at the 4th and thought it was close enough to the far wall that I could just use the extension ladder leaned against the wall rather than the step ladder propped on blocks. I told my 7-year-old son, “If I fall, call 9-1-1.”

Up I climbed with the paper towels.

I wiped the dust.

Then I felt it. The ladder was sliding down the wall.

Before I knew it, I had landed on the floor like a cat, right on my feet. The ladder rung I had been standing on fell on me crushing the tops of both feet, and I instantly knew something was broken.

I hobbled to the living room in agony, and my son got my phone so I could call my wife to come pick me up and take me to the ER.

The result of my ladder experience? A displaced break on my 5th metatarsal on my right foot with severe bruising and spraining of the other. I had surgery within a few days after the swelling had reduced, and I was in a cast for 6 weeks and a walking boot for a couple more.

That experience gave me a ton of perspective on how much I value mobility. You don’t realize how valuable your freedom to move around is until you don’t have it any more. I slept in pain, I showered in discomfort, and I spent my days longing to be able to do something as simple as walk around the mall or pee standing up.

I remember lying in bed one night feeling sorry for myself, and I swore I would do things differently when I was out of my plaster prison. I would exercise. I would play more. I would get out and run. I would get up to get the remote myself. I would enjoy having the ability to walk.

It’s now about a year later, and I have made changes. I started exercising. I lift, I run, I do elliptical. I eat high protein low-carb meals. I still rock the dad bod, but I’ve lost about 20 lbs. since that pity party I held, and I’ve never been healthier.

It’s amazing the perspective you can get from a life-changing event, huh?

Of all the life-changing events you could go through, nothing compares to becoming a Christ follower. When you invite Christ in, you’re saying, “Less of me, Lord, and more of you.” You’re giving Jesus the open door to come in and clean house or in some cases, take out walls, fix the plumbing, redo the electrical, lay some new flooring, slap on a new paint job, install the trim, rehang the doors…well, you get the idea.

But sadly, many of us stop short of the changed life that Jesus promises, merely asking Jesus to visit. It’s like inviting Jesus over and leaving him in the driveway. Or maybe we go a step further and invite him in, but we’ve locked certain rooms as off limits.

Christ hasn’t made a difference in our lives.

I was talking politics with some Christian friends once, and one commented, “I’m a Christian, but that doesn’t have any bearing on my political beliefs.” Friends, how can this be? How is it that politics have usurped the throne of our hearts that rightfully belongs to Jesus? It doesn’t even have to be politics. How can we say we’re Christian but then not submit what we think to him?

But Jesus doesn’t barge in. He doesn’t lower his shoulder and muscle his way into our locked rooms. To have a changed life, we must surrender the whole house.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says this:

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

These verses provide a clear picture of the changed life, the life surrendered to God. Here are a couple pictures that become clearer when we grasp this truth.

Picture 1—All my heart, all my ways

Could this be any clearer? No matter the issue I should surrender it to God. I should acknowledge God in all my opinions, thoughts, behaviors and feelings. There is nothing off limits to God. When Jesus is on the throne of our hearts, he has access to every nook and cranny, every shadowy, cobwebbed corner. When there are places in our lives we don’t allow him, it begs the question, whose hand is actually on the wheel?

We go to church and sing pretty songs. We listen to sermons about how to become better people. We even read the Bible for ourselves. But we don’t need more songs, sermons and Bible reading if we’re not going to do anything with them. All those things point to what Jesus has already done on the cross and what the Holy Spirit wants to do in us right now.

We don’t need more songs, sermons and Bible reading if we’re not going to do anything with them. Click To Tweet

Picture 2—Trust in God

I don’t have scientific evidence of this. I haven’t conducted studies or even done surveys. I haven’t even said this out loud for others to vet. I have a suspicion that most of our problems with Christian faith come down to how little we trust in the Lord. We like the stories, and we’re inspired by people who were bold, brave and audacious enough to risk it all for the Kingdom. We venerate heroes, but we tend to think they’re made of different stuff.

No!

All those men and women who went before us were flawed, broken people just like us. They weren’t born with a faith gene or greater guts. The only thing that makes them different is their radical trust in God. Truly faithful people aren’t born; they’re shaped and molded then set in a kiln.

Truly faithful people aren’t born; they’re shaped and molded then set in a kiln. Click To Tweet

Does Jesus have full access to you?

Is there anything you withhold from him?

Is there any topic off limits?

Take some time to do a soul check. What door is God knocking on asking to be let in? Is it your politics? Is it your dependence on food? Is it your addiction to others’ approval? Whatever it is, give it to God, and he will straighten your path and give you insight.

Where have you struggled to let God in? What have you done to make progress? Please comment below and share your thoughts.

I am a husband, a father and a follower of Christ. I have been an entrepreneur, a pastor and a politician. Through many hardships I have learned lessons about faith and life. I am also a contributing writer on faithbeyondfear.com. Follow me on Twitter @twelve2nds. If you want to contact me, write me at chip@chipmattis.com.

40 Comments

  • Dawn Ward

    Chip. I have broken my foot before. No fun. It’s easy to take our health for granted, as well as our relationship with the Lord. I loved your inspiring article. I was very challenged regarding my faith and trusting the Lord. Thank you.

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks for reading, Dawn. You’re right, taking our health, physical or spiritual, for granted isn’t good. The Lord wants us close to him and trusting him. I’m still learning, too.

  • karentfriday

    Chip, this is a compelling article and analogy. First, glad both your feet are better. 😉 When I was a teenager, our house might be a mess in the family room, kitchen, and so on. But we always kept the living room neat. So if unexpected guests arrived, we welcomed them into our nice clean room and shut all the other doors. It gave the impression our entire house was clean when the opposite was the case.

    How true your thoughts of how we leave Jesus in the driveway, thinking we are great as our own fixer-uppers in life. Or, we invite Him into the one clean room in our heart. Or, like a house that’s flipped, “one” day maybe we will let Jesus flip our hearts, completely changing us. How sad is this perspective for us and Christ. We miss out on the full, abundant life Jesus promised in John 10:10. Because God wants our obedience, not our help.

    • Chip Mattis

      Great comments, Karen! This can preach.
      I think most people can relate to having that embarrassing spot in their house they don’t want guests to see. I hadn’t taken the analogy to flipping but you’re exactly right. Thanks for you thoughts!

  • nancyehead

    Here’s my favorite part: “I have a suspicion that most of our problems with Christian faith come down to how little we trust in the Lord. We like the stories, and we’re inspired by people who were bold, brave and audacious enough to risk it all for the Kingdom. We venerate heroes, but we tend to think they’re made of different stuff.”

    Universal truths here.

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks, Nancy! I can speak with authority that in my own life I have thought these exact things. I don’t evangelize because it’s not my gift. I don’t volunteer because I don’t have anything to offer and there are better people to do it.
      But the truth is that when I trust God and he is leading me I can do all things through Christ.

  • Heather Hart

    Fabulous post, Chip. I have a friend that says, “God is a gentleman. He would never go anywhere He wasn’t invited.” I love your analogy of barging in. God doesn’t do that. And you’re absolutely right, al the Bible studies, church services, and worship songs in the world don’t mean a thing if we aren’t willing to let God in and give Him our all.

    • Chip Mattis

      You’re so right, Heather. I believe it’s not only scriptural but it has played out in my own life. God waits for me to let him change me. Now he does occasionally make himself and his purposes evident, but he never coerces me. He invites me. Thanks for commenting!

  • Anne Mackie Morelli

    Chip, I really appreciated your post and the way you use your experience as an analogy and to make such insightful observations. I particularly liked your comments around how our faith is built and molded by trusting Jesus and allowing HIm access to every part of our lives and being. And that if we do want to be transformed it is up to us to open the doors to our hearts and allow Jesus full access. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Cristy Paterno

    Absolutely riveting! Love it! Well, here’s my point God give us troubles, frustrations, and problems to lead us closer to HIM! I should rejoice because, I have tons of problems but there are times that my faith wavers; James 1: 2-3. Problems lead us to a different direction and inspire us to change! Love it, love it! Chip, thank you for this uplifting article. Have a beautiful Monday my amazing friend. You are brilliant and indeed an inspiration!

  • mimionlife

    Great message. I especially love the question “Does Jesus have full access to you?” What a powerful question and it really made me start thinking. What things do I try to keep to myself, even though He knows all?

    • Chip Mattis

      Isn’t it? No matter how well I’m doing it’s a question that constantly challenges me. Where am I withholding from God? Where have I not allowed him in? It’s uplifting and sobering. Thanks for reading!

  • Edna Davidsen

    Hi Chip Mattis!

    I feel the same way about ladders as you do. Good reminder, often we do not appreciate our mobility before it’s gone.

    When we follow Christ, it will change our lives. For my part, I can say that being Christian influences all parts of life, including politics, business and friendship.

    It’s also good with a soul check 🙂

    God is knocking on all my doors at the moment; I feel this is a wonderful time in my life.

    Some time ago I struggled with how I could communicate about faith with non-believers. Today I think I’ve learned how to do that. That used to be a big issue for me.

    The progress I made on that front came from reading books, seeking information on how to share Faith from a more relation-based point of view.

    How about you? Where would you say your struggle is currently? 🙂

    Sincerely!
    Edna Davidsen

    • Chip Mattis

      Hey, Edna. What a great season you’re in! I’m excited to see all that God is doing through you. Especially because it has such huge implications for the community you’ve built (including yours truly).
      Where I struggle right now is in wanting people’s approval. It makes me nervous to share Jesus explicitly. I’m good at loving but it can come across a little empty if I don’t let it grow into sharing the Gospel. I’ve been challenging myself to befriend people not yet believers and invite them to church, share how God had changed my life.
      Thanks again for reading and taking time to comment. I appreciate it 😀

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks, Christina! I appreciate you reading and commenting. Absolutely, the goal of the Christian Life is to change into a holier version of ourselves more like Jesus. It’s that simple…and that difficult.

  • Boma

    Yes, to picture two! If the Church would truly trust God like she believes she does, we wouldn’t seem as powerless as we look now. God is still the same. Thanks so much for this reminder, Chip. Blessings to you.

    • Chip Mattis

      You’re right, Boma. Sometimes the Church seems powerless against the lies of the enemy. As the Church we should trust the words of the Lord and follow where he leads. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Yvonne

    Great analogy used in your story. I think many people want to change but they are afraid of the cost or the things Christ might call them to do for Him. We want an easy life and many Christ would complicate it instead. If we only truly understood what awaits us in the next life then we would all show the change outwardly.

    • Chip Mattis

      Great thoughts, Yvonne. You’re right. We don’t think about eternity nearly enough. It’s like Stephen Covey says, Begin with the end in mind. If we truly thought about the eternal implications of what we think, say or do, the world would be a much more godly place. Thanks!

  • Lisa Q

    Ouch! Chip, what a bummer with the ladder thing, but hey, God used it in your life for good! That is what I love about the Christian walk (or lack thereof when one’s foot is in a cast – ha ha). “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28.) This includes the Word of God, which many neglect these days, as your post points out. Just reading it isn’t enough – we need to allow God to use it to “kiln” our hearts, as He molds us into His Son’s likeness. Amen? Okay – watch out for those ladders. Bless you!

    • Chip Mattis

      Ha! Thanks, Lisa! You’re totally right. There were several really good things that came from having a broken foot. I won’t expound here but the truth of your words is profound. And God’s word? You’re right there too. I neglect it at my own peril. God wants to shape me, and what better way to do so than to teach me through hardship, mine and those in Scripture? Thanks for reading!

  • Jeanne Takenaka

    Oh Chip, what a great post! SO many thoughts pinged from your words.

    First, I was nodding my head as I read about your limited mobility. Two years ago, I tore my ACL. It took months of PT and determination to be able to move without too much pain. It’s humbling to be so limited. And yes, I too, made decisions to change my habits. It’s taken awhile, but I’ve fostered a better habit for walking and physical exercise. Not perfect, but better.

    Second, I need to read this post to my boys. They need to consider what you’ve shared. They’ve grown up in a Christian home, but neither truly trusts Jesus as their Lord, though they prayed the prayer as children. So . . . I hope to share this with each of them. SUCH good words.

    Third, your words about Jesus knocking on the closed doors of our hearts reminded me so much of the little booklet, My Heart Christ’s Home. He does want all of us. The question is, will we trust Him, or keep trusting ourselves first?

    • Chip Mattis

      That means a lot, Jeanne. I’m so glad it resonated with you. I’m praying for you and your boys. I can imagine your mother’s heart wanting your boys to give Jesus a chance to change them.
      Keep after it, Jeanne. Keep trusting Jesus to tell their story and keep them safe.
      I’ll have to check out that booklet. I’ve heard about it before but apparently it’s well known. Thanks so much for reading and responding. Blessings.

  • Jennifer King

    I’ve always liked the analogy of our life and/or our heart being a house, like you wrote about here or in the parable of the wise and foolish builders. It makes a story really relatable and understandable. Great post!

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks, Jennifer! I do too. It helps me visualize what Jesus is teaching me. I this case, it’s that I have too many areas of limits to him that he wants to change. I’m glad you chimed in. Thanks!

  • melissamclaughlinheartsong

    Thank you, Chip, for another thoughtful post! I loved the image of faithful people being shaped and molded, then set in a kiln. Whew! The Potter’s Hands are strong on us. The mold of Christ’s form is not easy to succumb to. Then the heat is on! We know the purifying process is always deep and hot. Encouragement for the tough times. Bless you!

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks for reading, Melissa! I appreciate it. And yes, the process of becoming what God made us to be is sometimes hard. It usually means the impurities need to be burned off so I can take and eternal shape. I’m glad you liked it and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Alice Mills

    I have learned the hard way to invite the Lord into my hidden parts. But truthfully, now that I am all in, my trust grows with each step I take out onto the water. In ministry, I have found that people are as afraid of experiencing His joy as much as they are of giving up their wounds. Why is this, I wonder? We are often more afraid of living than we are of dying, I suppose.

    • Chip Mattis

      Great thoughts, Alice. I think people are afraid of the unknown. Like CS Lewis says, Aslan is dangerous, but he’s good. To experience the fullness of joy is to be vulnerable to whatever God wants in that moment. Thanks for sharing.

  • Vaishakh Shyam

    This is so true and edifying brother. Very clearly written.
    The reason our lives don’t change is because we resist a complete surrender of our lives, and a child like faith in Him who loves us like no other.
    Ill be revising the two pictures you presented later. Thank you so much. Keep writing. God bless you.

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks for reading! I really appreciate your comments too. It has been a hard lesson to learn in my life. When I finally surrender, that’s when the Lord’s purposes become clearer and I’m more like Jesus. It’s Romans 12:1-2 in action.

  • Nicole B.

    What a great read! I’m contemplating your questions. I feel like I let Him in every room…but perhaps not. You definitely got me thinking. I agree that when we truly follow Him, His ways will come through in all aspects of our lives.

    • Chip Mattis

      Yes, Nicole. I agree. I think the way to figure out whether or not you have places untouched by Jesus is to see what idols you might have. I’ve found the idols in my life are the things that if I lost them I would despair and lose hope. Not sure if that helps but it’s what I’ve done to find all kinds of sin and selfishness in my life so that God can begin to heal me. Blessings.

  • Marcie Cramsey

    I agree with you, Chip. I agree that most of the problems in our lives as Christians stems from a lack of faith. We are not much different than the disciples in that area. I’m reading a book by A. W. Tozer and he speaks to this topic. He shares that many Christians know the word of God, they know about God, but they rarely experience Him. It’s not until we experience Him that we will make changes in our life. Much like your ladder experience. While difficult to say the least, it was the experience of this mishap on the ladder and being unable to get around that helped you make lasting changes. Great post!

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks for commenting, Marcie. You’re right. Sometimes it takes “a ladder experience” to make changes. I’ve never read Tozer. I guess I should, huh? I had a friend that said something to me one time. He said, “I believe every atheist is justified until they have an experience of God.” Until we have an experience of God, something truly outside ourselves, all we have is this world and our own experiences by which to judge it. The changed life is the one that’s been able to experience God’s love and accept it.

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