Revolutions have changed the course of nations—overturned dictators and ushered in democracies. Through revolutions the everday lives of real people have changed. If social revolutions can garner such radical change, just imagine what a spiritual revolution could do. Consider what a revolution of the heart can bring about.
Today, the first day of a New Year, millions of people will make New Year’s resolutions. We resolve to lose weight, stop smoking, stop drinking, stop being late, stop lying or a host of other personal commitments we hope will make us better people. Yet research shows that after one month a little more than half of those resolutions are maintained, and by midyear, over half of those resolutions have been dropped.
Perhaps the issue is in the very nature of making resolutions or promises to ourselves that we have no power to keep. Often our resolutions deal with habits and behaviors that we want to change, but fail time and time again. What scripture teaches us is that true and lasting change occurs from the inside out—not from making well-intentioned but empty promises.
Deep and lasting changes occur as a result of an inner transformation in which our hearts and minds are changed first. When we change our believing, we change our behaving. When we change our thinking, we change our acting.
As if likening transformation to a internal wardrobe change, the Apostle Paul in the Ephesians 4:20-24, wrote of the process inner change—putting off the old self and putting on the new self. In other words, he called for discarding the old ways, nature, mindset and putting on new ways, nature, mindset and lifestyle. Yet there was a process in between the old and the new that is critical to deep lasting change; and that was being “renewed in the spirit of [the] mind.” (Eph 4:23). In another passage, Paul calls it being “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). This capacity for renewal was made possible by God’s redemptive work in Jesus that changes us from the inside out.
The key to lasting change, from the inside out, is to be renewed in our attitudes and thoughts—sometimes called putting on the “mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16, Philippians 2:5). Without a new way of thinking, trying to put on the new self (or new habits) is like a person putting on a designer suit after just coming from a sweaty workout at the gym. Nice clothes on the outside but stinking…well you get the idea! A renewal of the mind is like a fresh shower that cleanses our old, negative, defeatist thought patterns that sabotage our daily success.
In similar fashion, William Bridges author of “Transitions: Making sense of Life’s Changes” writes about three processes of inner change —endings (letting go), neutral zones (recalibrating), and beginnings (embracing the new). Bridges admonishes that for every new there must first be an ending; and after every ending there is a necessary waiting period. No wonder the Psalmist of old declared, “Wait on the Lord! (Psalms 27:14; Psalms 37:4).” Perhaps too many of us are trying to move too quickly to new beginnings without putting an end to the old and sitting in the waiting room of the Spirit. Sitting with the chaos and angst of that in-between time will ultimately lead to creativity and awareness as the Lord brings clarity, courage and ultimately hope.
The experience of Moses and the Children of Israel is instructive. God brought them out of bondage in Egypt, but led them right into the wilderness. God did not take them immediately into their promised new land. Perhaps had they been led directly from the old into the new, they would have indeed been transported to a new place, but not transformed into a new people. The wilderness served as that place for that season in which they were forced to let go of a slave mentality and begin to see the world as children of God.
In this case, the Children of Israel remained in the wilderness until the old generation died off and a new generation was raised up and prepared to enter into the new land. Perhaps too many of us are trying to move into a new season without developing the new attitudes and perspectives and routines required for the new. Too many of us are moving from old place to new place without any downtime for reflection and contemplation to identify what needs to die off in our lives. Perhaps too many of us are running from one failed relationship to another without any alone time to develop a healthy sense of self and boundaries vital to healthy relationships. Perhaps too many of us are setting goals and resolutions without truly considering our own soul-needs.
So how do we get started? We first must openly and humbly turn to the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:16). No more resolutions, but a revolution—a turning to God in heartfelt honesty asking God to help change us from the inside out. A turning to God asking God to change our desires, change our proclivities, change our thinking.
As we turn to the Lord, God removes the barriers from our hearts that block us from living out the life God has for us. The blocks may be pride, anger, unforgiveness, jealousy, bitterness or fear. As we lay before the Lord in prayer and worship, the Spirit opens our heart to the truth of God. The Spirit softens our heart to desire more of God. The more we experience the Lord in prayer and the Word, the more the Holy Spirit within us prompts us to want to be like the One who changes us! The image ofourselves within us changes. The desires within us change. A revolution of the heart occurs and we begin to see what is possible through Christ.
This year I believe God is challenging us to go beyond the traditional New Year’s resolutions and get ready for a transition into a new season. There is a spiritual revolution brewing, fermenting, and bubbling up. And this revolution starts in our hearts. So during this first month of the year, let’s change our resolutions to a revolution!
A New Year’s Prayer: Dear Lord, I ask you to search my heart and remove any blocks that keep me from seeing You and becoming like You. I am grateful for your changing grace. I am tired of my old ways and need your help to develop new ways. I’m tired of my old self and want to be truly renewed in my attitudes, thoughts and perspective. Show me what I need to put off or let go of. Give me the courage to end that which is contrary to your will for me. Let your Spirit hover over me in Your waiting room as I seek You; as I grow in You; as I listen for your voice; and I experience your transforming grace.
Blessings for your New Year
© TransPorter Communication, LLC