Planned or unplanned we find ourselves at the end of each year looking back wondering and asking, what happened? What did I accomplish? Where did the time go? You may check lists or review goals or maybe you are more informal and just intuitively wonder about these things as the calendar flips. What if with a few clearly defined waypoints we could all navigate the complexity of this coming year a bit better?
I believe no matter the age, life experience, or situation you find yourself in there are three things to keep in mind that will help you navigate all that is ahead. They all come from a single chapter in the bible. Romans 12.
The first one is “having a right view of God”.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
Of all the ways to describe God, the author summarizes what he has already written to describe God as merciful. How do you view God? Is he angry? Lovable? Irrelevant? Out of touch? Have high expectations? Is he distant? Near? What comes to mind when we think of God, or a higher power, dramatically impacts our entire outlook on life. This is especially true for followers of Jesus.
Described as merciful, God desires us. You. Our response to his mercy is to offer our very selves. We can wonder, does God really want me? Bad knees, financial hardship, and all that stuff that seems so ungodly about me? Yes, God isn’t just after a bit. He wants all. Before any demonstration of worth on our part God initiates. This is counterintuitive because in no other relationship do we experience this.
A right view of God sees God as merciful and his desiring all of us. This view of God doesn’t leave us hanging but gives us a road map to transform. It changes us.
How do we transform? Renew our minds. Our minds are amazing creations that absorb, re-wire, repair, protect, and respond to what we input. Everything from what we put in front of our eyes, to what we read, say and repeatedly work on shapes what we consider normal.
Committing to a bible reading plan with someone else, joining a small group, and attending a local church weekly for worship. These aren’t just good things to do, they are mind-renewing activities. If we skip one, not a big deal, but drop the habit and eventually you are a completely different person. You are “conformed to the patterns of your life” and so our transformation comes from our habits that are a deliberate response to our merciful God.
How do I know if it is working?
We become less resistant to Jesus’ rule in our life. Our value estimation changes and what once we thought was normal now seems pointless with less thrill. We start to reflect the character of Jesus in our reactions because Jesus’ ways are being internalized. They are a new normal. A renewed mind leads to a transformed life, that shines bright in a dark world.
Q. What comes to mind when you think of God?
Q. Who can you ask to join you to commit to the following practice for a week?
Every morning before looking at your phone read Matthew 6:9-13 twice and say, Jesus today I give you every waking moment.
Every night pause for 2-3 minutes to reflect and mentally review your day since your morning reading. Reflect on your ups and downs and where you experienced the presence of Jesus.