"Your way was in the sea, and your paths in the waters, and Your footprints may not be known."
I had a friend once tell me that when God is doing one thing, He is doing ten thousand things. There are sometimes in my life where I feel like I can't discern the activity of God in my heart, but I know He is working. If I've agreed to let His Spirit inhabit me, than I can rest assured He never rests. He is working on me every day, every minute, because His delight is in finishing the good work He started. But sometimes the theme of a certain season in my life isn't really clear until I'm out of the season. It's like a murky pool of thoughts and verses and words that are carving out a greater space for God in me, and I'm not really sure how to label what He is doing. Maybe part of that is due to my own inability to sit still and ask Him, but sometimes I think He loves gigantic surprises, and once a season ends, He likes to map out for me exactly what was going on while I was unaware.
Other times, though, its almost like God announces to me before a season even begins that we're going to be learning a very specific lesson. (Before I go making myself sound like a perfect prophet, let me clarify: walking with God for me is sometimes like driving through an area where a radio station is coming in and out...the impressions on my heart, random recurring thoughts in my head, someone else's words are all ways that I believe God speaks, and sometimes I think He spoke something and I am way off...the beauty of grace. But other times, the most encouraging of times, I grab hold of an impression and circumstances prove that I did in fact "hear" right.) A few months ago, while listening to a sermon, the words "renewed mind" fell like a ton of bricks onto my heart. And suddenly everyone around me was talking about, debating about, looking for the definition of a renewed mind.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you my prove what the will of God is, that which is good, and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:10
"But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16
"For the mind set according to the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:6
These are just a few of those familiar verses, ones my mom used to make me memorize in song-like cadences, that over the past few weeks have been circulating over and over in my head. But what is the mind of Christ? What is the renewed mind? Why, if I have the mind of Christ, do I not always experience life and peace? And those are some of the questions I had over the past few weeks.
I was standing in my closet the other day, contemplating some of my own shortcomings, and I heard the voices of people I love telling me, "Charis, don't believe those lies." As much as I appreciate the people who want me to walk in security and peace, I've always been frustrated by that answer to my own insecurities because sometimes the things that I am thinking aren't necessarily lies.
Exhibit a: When I talk about how I don't have Charlize Theron's legs, I can't really rebuke that thought as a lie, because its true. I actually don't have mile long legs.
So I'm standing in my closet, realizing this root to all of my frustration, and about to throw in the towel on trying to renew my mind when all the sudden the Lord sets this thought in my mind: "It's not whether or not the thought is true or false, Charis, its just that the thought isn't worthy of your attention."
Ok, wow. Why does a thought have to be worthy of my attention in order for me to dwell on it? Because I have the mind of Christ. And His mind is pretty stinking special. It's pretty controversial. It's pretty supernatural. And it's a mind that is holy-- set apart--kingly. He's given me the ability to have His mind, and whatever isn't worthy of His attention isn't worthy of mine. He is calling me up to His level, not asking to sit in the corner while I pour over facebook, magazines or celebrities' pictures, feeling worse and worse about my God-given body, ability, etc. To think that I subject the Holy Spirit to such ridiculous things kind of makes me want to gag. Certainly, He has better things to do.
A few days later I was sitting in our computer room, sipping hot chocolate, watching Eden stretch and coo on her special little mat, and I started contemplating life and the different people in it. All of the sudden I started having jealous thoughts. And the Holy Spirit was waving His arms in my head saying: "Please say goodbye to this thought." But I kept it circulating, and I even justified it: "It's natural for me to feel jealous of this [insert jealous thought here]." And with that, I turned around, and started my quiet time. At the very end of it, I decided to do the random open-up-the-Bible-to-see-if-God-is-speaking act, and the Bible fell to James 3. "But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic."
I nearly fell out of my chair. What is natural for the human heart is to rage against the things of God, and jealousy is just one of those oh so beautiful attributes that I find most becoming when I'm indulging my flesh. But in that moment I paired natural with the words demonic, and I shuddered. And asked God to forgive me. He began to iterate to me how obsolete the idea of a neutral thought is. There is no middle ground, no "no-man's land"...if a thought isn't for God, it's against Him. Over and over again during these past weeks, the Lord has been helping me to stop before I indulge in what I think is "natural". When it comes to drawing a line in the sand, I will not ever be caught on the wrong side of Life. He has been too good to me for me to get lazy.
We're not even halfway done, I have a feeling. I think this is a life-long season, and having a renewed mind is a full-time job. I can't afford to be lackadaisical about it. Its amazing how the more I clear out of my head that isn't of God, the more open space He has to fill with things that are of God. And the best news is, God doesn't hold grudges. So if one day I'm really bad at renewing my mind, we're still on speaking terms the next morning, and He is just as willing, wanting, that I might have the mind of Christ.
"...you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new self which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." Ephesians 4:22-24