A friend of mine, Chuck was wearing a t-shirt he bought on his extended visit to Thailand. On the front the shirt were the words ” Same Same” and on the back of the shirt it read “but different”. It was a curious thought and I pondered it for a few moments when God began to use it as an illustration about what He was already teaching me.
Our lives are comprised of our decisions both willful and subliminal, our actions and our reactions to events around us. It seems to me that with every event in our lives that is impacting…either positive or negative, we will make certain decisions or vows to solidify the event. For instance, when I get a chance to look at the gorgeous views of the glacier-filled mountains surrounding the ocean here in Alaska I say to myself “I will never take this for granted”. It’s a vow or decision that becomes the catalyst for my responses in the future. That is a positive decision. There was a decision I made during times of pain and disappointment in my childhood when I said, “I will never again trust a man”. This vow took me years to undo because it was an unconscious decision that began cutting me off from God’s plan for me….a godly man and marriage. Whether we say these thoughts out loud or subconciously it sets a course for future actions.
These “vows” or decisions become the recipe for our life. When good things happen to us, we reflect back to the good decisions we made. When bad things happen to us, we chalk it up to the belief we embraced long ago about that subject or person.
The Word of God is filled with statements and declarations that defy our assumptions. They disarm our wisdom and challenge us to see ourselves the way God sees us. From the very first lie perpetrated in the Garden of Eden…”Has God really said…?” God comes to Adam and Eve and asks them “WHO TOLD YOU you were naked?” God asks them “who told them”! Was it He their Creator and Lover of their souls? Was it the Almighty God who created the world from nothing, fashioned them by His own hands and called them good? Was it He? No. God will never lie or take delight in our buying lies.
I was on a missions trip when news from home began to carry me back to a season of pain and trouble. The situation they described wasn’t exactly like the one I had experienced before, but began to bear all the markings of a similar fate. It is amazing to me how all of my old emotions and pain surfaced along with my fear and frustrations. It is as if those years had never passed. I was looking at a similar situation and the enemy was telling me this is the same as the old one. Same, Same! I was going to experience it all over again…the pain, the disease, the stress and turmoil. This was going to be my future. I heard it in my head. Same, same. I had to get before the Lord and lay it all out at His feet again.
When I began to pour out my heart to the Lord, he took me to the story of the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea. They were slaves with a slaves mentality. They could not believe they were going to be free. Then they cross that Sea and there is great rejoicing as the Israelites begin to realize that God really was their God and He was delivering them. It wasn’t long after that celebration however that they found themselves at Marah…the place where the only available water was bitter. Here came the old lies and vows…”You brought us out here to kill us”, “of course we weren’t really going to be set free, this was just a cruel joke.” See how their reactions reflected their beliefs and their inner vows? Satan yells “Same, same” “God cannot be trusted!” “You really are just puppets!” And then God enters the picture and tells Moses to have them cut a branch from a tree and throw it in the water. When they did the water became pure and drinkable. This would have been a great place for the Children of Israel to make a new vow in their hearts and say “I will never fail to trust the Lord.” But as we all know, some habits are hard to break.
So God began to speak to me and say, “This may look same, same to you, but I promise you it is not. It is different.” I came to realize that the difference is me. How I responded this time. What I chose to believe, what I chose to say, how I chose to trust and to love…all of these things had changed. This situation was different because I was now different.
I can’t count how many times God has invaded my private life…the places where I make my secret vows and solidify my decisions. He comes with the light of His Holy Spirit and asks me “Who told you this?” “Was it me?” “Is this something I would say to you?” More often than not I realize that much of what I believe and react upon are lies that I picked up along the road of life and made it part of my identity. And now, I must make an exchange.
Isaiah 61 says that God will give us “beauty for ashes, a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness, the oil of joy for mourning….” and so much more. He lays out a table before me and asks me to lay down my lies for His truths. Like the vow I made to never trust men…it was a self-protection vow that rested on the lie that all men were bad. God showed me His Truth, and so I layed my lie down. Sometimes His Truths don’t seem to fit at first, but as I put them on I find they are more me than anything I was wearing before.
The enemy traps us with lies. He wants us to not only feel defeated, but also stuck in that defeat. Same, same. And God comes to us and says, “No…..different!” Different because He is God and in charge of it all and different because He is constantly redeeming and changing us so that we are different.
The next time the enemy comes to you and says “Same, same” remember this thought….this time can be different.
Allow God to search your heart and find your inner vows. Hold them to the light of His Word and see if perhaps there needs to be an exchange made for truth, and live today different!