2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Repetition may be the mother of learning, but it is not always the panacea that many ascribe to it. In October 1981, a woman at an Al-Anon meeting in Knoxville once commented, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Also, in October of 1981, educator and counselor Jessie Potter said in a speech, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”
Unthinkingly repeating actions, words, or thoughts does not necessarily bare productive positive results. There have been times in my life when I felt like I was on one of those hamster wheels: I was running and running, and never getting anywhere. When I would finally stop, there I was - right where I had started.
There comes a time when we just need to make a change; we need to slow down, take a break, step off the hamster wheel, rest, and renew. Regardless of the activity, there is a time for renewal.
The word ‘renew’ means to make new again, to replenish, and to restore freshness, vigor, or perfection.
Even if I’m lying in bed, there comes a time when I need a change. Alright, I’ve rested long enough. I’ve lain here inert for longer than I need, and I am long past being fresh – in fact, I feel listless and lethargic. And I realize: It’s time to renew myself from renewing.
I am not one who believes that change for change’s sake is all that beneficial. In my experience I have found that change without spiritual grounding is not renewing. If Spirit is not involved with my decisions, actions, and thinking, then there is no growth. Oh, there may be change, but there is no transformation. Transformation comes from renewal us; change can deplete us.
Romans 12:2 teaches this: Do not conform any longer 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.
The difference between simple change and transformation then, is in the renewing of the mind; it is the adjustment in how we think, what we think, in what we believe, and our attitudes.
Our mind focused on Spirit is the source of transformation – the key to unlocking the newness of life and living, to opening new doors of triumph and accomplishment, to discovering new opportunities for happiness and fulfillment.
If we feel limited, in any way constrained by the circumstances of our lives, we must first look at our thinking. Familiar patterns of thought, like favorite old shoes, are comfortable and easy to slip into. Yet if they no longer fit, they need to be released.
If we notice familiar thought patterns of judgment, worry, or habitual reactions to situations, we can release them as easily as we release outworn shoes. They may have served us in the past, but we can let them go and prepare for a new way of thinking and being.
We can envision a new path, instead of the repetitive hamster wheel. Through the power of our imaginations we can see ourselves breaking every bond and overcoming every obstacle.
We can replace anxiety with a calm attitude. By incorporating the power of Christ into our thinking and hearts, we are able to remove beliefs, thoughts, and emotions that no longer contribute to our mental and spiritual well-being. We gain composure and find renewal in knowing that divine order and right outcomes are present and active in our life.
God’s will for us is good, pleasing, and perfect, and Spirit is always with us, ready to help us attain our hearts desires.
When we renew our thinking, we pattern our thoughts after how we want our life to unfold. Our inner thought-patterns shape our outer experiences. As we think, so we live. As we expect, so it becomes for us.
Our minds are not the only areas of renewal in life. A while back, I had to go to DMV to renew my license. It was a long wait and by the time I got to the counter I was a little out of sorts. When my picture was taken, I looked at it and told the lady at the camera that I looked kind of grouchy. She smiled and said, “It's okay. That's how you're going to look when the cops pull you over anyway.”
Not only our minds, but our bodies are need renewal. Our bodies are wonderfully self-renewing, when we give them a chance, and give them what they need. New cells, tissues, and breaths of air constantly fill our body with the necessary life-giving elements to perform its perfect work.
When I exercise consistently, I see my body respond to what I put it through. I have come to appreciate the truth in the old adage: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. As I move my body, it gets stronger, and attempts to renew itself.
So, we run, we are out of breath; and how natural it is to pause a moment and rest. We work, we garden, we golf, we bowl; and how pleasant it is to stop and refresh ourselves.
We travel hundreds of miles on a vacation, knowing all the while we will return home. We gladly accept the times of resting, of refreshing, of returning. We think of these as orderly parts of living.
But in many life situations we rebel at taking time to rest and refresh ourselves; we resist returning home, even though we are taught that there is a time for all these things. Actually, there is a need, a demand, a Divine Petition for all these things. Contrary to popular belief, our muscles grow in the rest period between sessions, which may give us an incentive to take more rest days between workouts (if preventing injury isn’t good enough). The same principle applies to studying and using our brains, to our emotions, and even to our spiritual lives. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., is attributed with the quote “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.”
Most of us do not have that issue. When life appears meaningless, if we are discouraged, downhearted, confused, frightened, these feelings can often originate at the spiritual level, so let us at least consider a spiritual solution and try resting in God's love. Let us allow Spirit to cleanse, renew, and refresh us.
People find various ways to return to God: sometimes through reading, sometimes through friends, or through humor. I have been known to go to YouTube and watch funny videos. This allows my small self to get out of the way and invites Christ to express again, renewing my mind and attitude, and bringing me ‘home.’
At other times we can find our way home by thinking of others, turning our focus outside of ourselves. The Buddha said, “Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” While renewing humanity, we are ourselves renewed.
God’s desire for us is to live in a state of constant renewal. The recipe for that is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 - Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Available at all times, as a means of finding our way home, is prayer. “Be still and know that I am God.” At any time, we can return to God in prayer, for truly to be still and move inward is to return home. In returning, we rediscover the stability, the poise, the indomitable courage God gave to us. In God’s love we are renewed and refreshed. We are told in Isaiah 30:15. “In returning and rest you shall be saved.”
Some people experiencing physical challenges and health issues get frustrated during the healing process. At times it seems so slow. It is good to know that even when it does not seem that progress is being made, healing and renewal are taking place; the life of God is doing its mighty healing work. Say with faith and firm conviction for yourself or for another: “Healing and renewal are taking place. Thank You, God.”
The healing we long for does not come as a result of frantic prayers and desperation; it comes naturally and easily as we allow God’s healing power to flow in and through us.
Prayer helps us to attune to the loving, healing, powerful Spirit of God. Becoming still and quieting our minds helps us to feel at one with the everlasting life force within us. When thinking of others, prayer helps us let go of fear or anxiety and to see the person as they truly are, a child of God -- filled with the life of God, healed through and through by the power of God. As we look out upon society, whatever the need, whatever the condition, healing and renewal are taking place. Thank You, God.
Psalm 51:10-12 reads: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
So, my prayer is that we open our hearts to behold the world around us with awe and wonder. I pray that we become aware of the breath, and mind, and hand of God giving life to all creation; that even the subatomic particles of the Universe vibrate with the energy of One Life, One Love; from the tiniest neutrino or photon to the glorious majesty of a mountain range, we are humbled by God’s handiwork.
I pray that we awaken to the renewing life of Spirit present in every pattern and every corner of creation and allow the life and love of God to renew us. It is the energy that heals all wounds, forgives all errors, and draws us ever closer to the Divine. Every day is made anew—not by what happens around us, but by what happens within us.
I leave your minds and hearts with this thought from Zephaniah 3:17 - The Lord, your God, is in your midst, … he will renew you in his love.