If previous years are anything to go by, in a day or two there will be a number of statements along the lines of “I’m glad to see the back of 2019, here’s hoping 2020 is an improvement.” I’ve never really jumped on that wagon, but I am very tempted to this year. 2019 has been one of the toughest I have experienced emotionally. Situations far outside my control have, and in some cases continue to challenge me and my faith to breaking point. I long for change. I long to experience a less emotional and testing 12 months.
On one hand I’d rather nothing changed. I just about have things under some sort of control, where if not ideal at least known and manageable. On the other hand, I have no desire at all for things to continue as they are.
I can cope with a bit of variation, but not too much and certainly not too often.
I go to work Monday to Friday, and have a pretty good idea of what I will be faced with. Church on a Sunday follows a tried and tested format. The meals for the week, whilst enjoyed on different days are familiar.
It is often said that the main obstacle to change in our lives is found between our ears. It is definitely an excuse I have (and do) use for lack of exercise. There seems to be a constant battle in my mind between the need to exercise more, and the inability to exercise more because I have neglected it so much in the past. The constant discussion in my mind trying to rationalise each position means that I continue to sit on the sofa rather than simply getting up, putting on a pair of shoes and leaving the house, even if it is just to walk round the block.
If you have spent significant time with me in the past few years, you will know that one of the main prayers I pray for myself, and have others pray for me, is that I will know more of the Fathers love, experience more of the abundance He has for me. To be brave enough to step out in confidence that He really does have my back, and that He wants to use me to change the world. That I would be obedient to His call on my life.
To realise any of that means things will have to change. God can and will use me as I am, but He loves me far too much to leave me there. Try as I might to keep some sort of constant in my life, one of the things that is required of me as a Christian is that I change. One part of me has little control over this. My spirit, the part of me that was made a new when I became a Christian is being transformed from one degree of glory to another. I, you, “ we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) I am glorious. You are glorious. We are becoming more and more glorious, and it is something we are simply going to have to get used to. It is happening as we are being made more and more like Jesus.
The other part that has to be changed is my mind. As I alluded to earlier, it is the changing of how I think, how I process things that needs to be changed. This is something I have control over. I can choose to believe things. I can make truth statements which will transform my mind. It is important to ensure that the things I transform my mind to believe are Kingdom truths. For that, it is vital that I search for these truths in the right places.
Having already told us that if we are “in Christ” we are a new creation you could be forgiven for struggling with the concept that we still need to change.
Let me try and explain it like this. I believe the bible teaches that we are made up of three parts (just as the Godhead is made up of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.) We have a body – our external, physical layer. We have a spirit, which is our inner core, the part that is sensitive to God. We also have a soul. This is our mind, our will and our emotions. It is that part that needs to change. Our spirit man (or woman) has been made new. Our soul is the part where there is a battle between our new identity and the old one. Winning that battle takes determination on our part. We can’t expect to simply sit back and wait for God to do something. There has to be movement on our part. We need to change, to be transformed, to resolve that we are going to start thinking and acting differently.
For someone that doesn’t do well with change, especially with change happening around me, the thought of having to change me as well can be daunting. Fortunately, we have the assurance that whatever is happening around us or within us there is one thing that doesn’t change. Malachi 3:6 reminds us that God will not change. He will be the one constant throughout whatever 2020 brings. It is because of the confidence we can have in that fact, that we can “risk” allowing ourselves to change. It is precisely because He doesn’t that we must. The thing is, there are clear benefits. Not only will we feel better about ourselves (for which of us doesn’t beat ourselves up when we get it wrong) we will have a much clear vision of what God wants for us, for our family, for our church. The more we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, the more our minds will reflect the truth that Paul tells us “we have the mind of Christ.”
As we head into 2020, I pray that with me you will resolve to allow Holy Spirit to transform us.
Let’s start living in the reality of being a new creation (in our spirit) and taking whatever steps are necessary to allow our minds to catch up. Let’s be brave, knowing that we have the mind of Christ and speak out boldly, knowing that He will catch us if we fail, and love us regardless. Let’s live like we really are glorious, not beating ourselves up for past (or current) failures, seeking out the glory in others.
Let’s make 2020 a year when change doesn’t scare us, its simply a vehicle to discover more of God and His will for us here on planet earth.