The first and most important thing…

Don’t quit.

Seriously, that’s the most important thing. If you’ve connected with Jesus–if you even know His name–you’re in the path where things get fixed. Nobody who calls on the name of Jesus is going to be disappointed (see Romans 10:6-13), if only they’ll hang on until He fixes whatever is broken.

When I say “Don’t quit,” I mean don’t abandon Jesus. He’s the key. You can leave your church and find another if you have to. You can alter your theology if you have to. You can start over from day 1 if you have to. But tell Jesus you’re there to stay, and ask Him to make sure that you do, whatever else happens.

“What is He waiting for?” you’re asking? Well, you might not like my answer, but even if you don’t, don’t quit. Perseverance is the mark of authenticity in the Kingdom of God. The real ones aren’t always the ones who look the cleanest or know the most, they’re the ones who stick around until God does what He does. He who endures to the end will be saved (see Matthew 24:13).

The answer to your question is, He’s not waiting for anything. From the moment you even paid the slightest attention to His name, He began working to draw you into His kingdom and fix whatever’s broken.

There are two problems, though. First, our brokenness is layered. He has to fix this before He can fix that, and He has to fix that before He can get to the other. All these fixes take time. No, there is no instant “Poof!” He couldn’t do that even if He wanted to, not without destroying the very thing that makes us a worthwhile creation: our free will. So don’t expect “instant.” It just doesn’t happen that way.

Every now and then you might get a gift: like the time I looked at the pack of cigarettes I was reaching for, said “I don’t need that,” and quit smoking instantly. (Of course, I stupidly started smoking again a few weeks later, and after that I had to quit the hard way. I got the gift once.) But most things come the ordinary way, by learning, changing our minds, changing our behavior, and growing.

The second problem is ourselves. You may not believe this yet, but most problems we bring to Jesus have our own choices at their roots. And since loving relationship with God out of our own, free choice is really the point of the whole exercise, He’s not going to hammer us into obedience; He’s going to convince us, even woo us. Again, that takes time; we have reasons for the choices we’ve made, even the bad ones. It’s helpful if we’re genuinely ready to give up whatever it is that is hurting us, but usually we take some persuading.

I came into the Kingdom of God at the age of 18 with pretty serious sexual issues. I was a sex addict in a day when “sex addict” was not even a coherent phrase. I’m nearly 60 now, I’ve been Christian 40+ years. I’ve come a long way: the serial flirting is gone, the off-color comments are gone, and the porn is gone, but I still have some issues in my thought life. I struggled with all those things (serial flirting, off-color comments, porn) while I was a Christian. My victory has been slow in coming; and there were lots of moments along the way where I was so burdened by guilt that I wanted to quit. I did not quit, though, and I’m much better now. I’m almost completely free now, 40+ years down the road. Recovery takes time.

If you don’t quit, you get there, because God is faithful. There’s a German proverb that expresses this well: “God’s mills grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.”

Even if it hurts, don’t quit. Even if people reject you, don’t quit. Even if guilt is eating you alive, don’t quit. If you know Jesus, you’re in touch with the solution.

That’s the most important thing.

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