Any plans for 2016? Perhaps God has something in mind.
The New Testament describes, “putting on a new self created after the likeness of God” (Ephesians 4:22-24), but is that actually possible?
My belief was that this process involved replacing wrong behavior with right actions. New behavior is a result of our “putting on”, but it is not where our new self starts. Transformation begins in our heart and mind.
My “putting on” began with a spiritual discipline. Even though I read scripture, attended church and prayed I had little relationship with God. I carried a burden of grief, anger and un-forgiveness. These attitudes affected my daily life in harmful ways. I recognized I was not living as a “new self created after the likeness of God”. Unexpectedly God used spiritual direction to change my heart and mind. I learned that to discover “the likeness of God” I needed to rediscover Christ. How he lived his life showed me old attitudes that were preventing me from becoming like Him and I began to receive the new self God offers.
The first step was acknowledging the shame I lived with. From that point I gave God access to work in me. He slowly replaced the old character traits with love, joy and peace. I began to not only know Christ, but to experience his grace, forgiveness and love. I needed this awareness of Jesus to renew my heart and mind. Transformed character is essential to live into the likeness of Christ. My past is still my past, but the way I view my experiences is no longer the same. God continues to transform me through my ongoing relationship with him.
As to how grace and God are a part of this process? Well…God wants to work in you and in me, but he wants us to want it too. We need an interactive relationship that includes the love of God and the best and worst of us. From a point of authenticity he takes what we perceive to be worthless and redeems us. We cannot “purchase” what he offers. It is his grace. In seeking this grace we are indicating a willingness to remove what hinders us from receiving it. Our part is a continual seeking of what only he can give.
Note: Some pain seems more than impossible. It seems unimaginable. If this is where you seem to be let me offer a line from a song by Carolyn Arends. The song is titled, The Last Word and the line is “Love[God] is going to have the last word.” Sometimes in our pain that is all we have to cling to and in our transformation that becomes enough. Our always bigger God can and will transform not only anything, but everything. The outcomes are his and his alone.