I think all of my posts thus far have contained one constant theme: a New Perspective. If you’re new to my blog, take a few minutes to scan through the archived posts and you’ll see the exact same theme a bunch of different ways 🙂 So perhaps I’ve led you to expect that once this lightbulb turns on and you are able to experience a different perspective all will be rosy. Unfortunately, seeing with a new perspective is not like surgically replacing your eyes with new ones, it’s not even like wearing new glasses. You don’t just acquire new perspective and the old is gone, never to return. It is much more like any new (difficult) skill that must be practiced continually, using muscles in new and awkward ways. It is the continuous “renewing of the mind” to which we are encouraged in Romans 12:2. “Do not conform 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.” Without a constant renewing of the mind we cannot know what is God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. There’s another word you find me discussing quite a lot in my posts: PERFECT. The apostle clearly warns that we cannot perceive, understand, or know what “perfect” is without a constant, active, renewing of our mind.
Daily renewal of the mind, no matter how specific or unique your life or situation, is exactly the same for everyone. It is daily acknowledging that the only way to “know” truth, is to surrender my perspective, my plans and my will for the God’s will, plans, etc. I have learned that the more I seek Jesus, the clearer my perspective becomes. Because then actually I don’t even see that thing on which I am adjusting perspective, rather, I see only Jesus. That is the final layer of surrender and it truly is a daily (sometimes hourly) pursuit. This is where we all see that no matter how extraordinary our story is, it has a simple solution. Actually, it doesn’t get any more simple. Easy, no. But simple all the same.
I have often, over the years, seen the journey that I’ve taken as my own personal Israelites-in-the-desert experience. I see similarities in every leg of the journey: First, being held captive in the lie that said God made a mistake, or God abandoned me, or no good can come of this. Then, wandering in a seemingly endless desert, at times just dragging myself ragged going nowhere and ending back where I started. Finally, the “promised land”! The land flowing with milk and honey, or in my case, joy, peace, and fulfillment.
But the fact is that accepting a new “truth” isn’t the end. It’s not even the hard part! Through my recent study of James (with the wonderful Beth Moore study called JAMES: Mercy Triumphs) I’ve just this week run across such a great – or not so great, depending what you want to hear – explanation of this. It turns out that arriving at the Promised Land wasn’t the hardest part for the Israelites.
Once the Israelites arrived at the Promised Land, they didn’t just have a big party and live happily every after. They had to fight and war for years on end to possess their land. And then they had to keep fighting, as they rebuked wave after wave of attacker who wanted to take the land from them. Beth Moore’s quote today that jumped out at me was this: “The point is developing the spiritual muscle on our way so once we receive it, we are strong enough to keep it. The hardest part of possessing the land is defending it.”
Practically speaking, what does this process look like? It’s not a step by step process, but in fact it’s one big circle. I have found that I must continue a constant cycle that includes: praise, faith and obedience. You could perhaps substitute thankfulness for praise, or hope for faith, etc. but you get the point, multi-faceted renewal of the mind. (I say again, daily).
Renewal stop one: Praise. After reading “The Purpose Driven Life” I am completely convinced that praise is the point. It’s why we’re here. I’ve been blessed by close relationships with some of the most gifted praisers on the planet, and I have learned from my friends that praise turns the key of our relationship with God. Praise with thanksgiving for our many many gifts we receive each day, as well as praise to the sovereign God when all is completely lost. I need both a church where corporate praise and worship is emphasized, as well as my own voice for personal, intimate praise and worship of God.
The next component in daily renewal is: Faith. Without a faith that God is truly able, to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or seek, you’re not really expecting anything and you will most likely get what you’re expecting. Faith not only that He is able, but that He cares, knows, and desires the best for you. Praise allows you to lay down all your burdens so that you can achieve faith. Faith says I have confidence of what I hope for, and evidence of what I cannot see.
The third stop is: Obedience. This puts the proof in the process of praise and faith. If your praise and faith are true then you will be obedient to follow God’s direction for your life. You will be obedient to take the steps that are required to live out a daily walk towards God’s purposes being fulfilled in your life. It’s not just huge steps of obedience, but also little challenges like being obedient with my attitude. I recently learned the context for the Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Did you know that he was writing about attitude? If you read previous to that verse, you see that specifically he is talking about how, through Christ, he can be content no matter what his circumstances are. Whatever God’s provision and plan for any season or circumstance, he can content himself. The Amplified version says “I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether….having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].
I can assure you there are constantly challenges to living out a new perspective. Over the years more times than I can count or you would care to read about, Nicolas has faced physical and developmental difficulties. I have faced emotional and spiritual crisis moments over and over again. Each time, through the process of Praise and Faith, I have been supernaturally enabled to continue in Obedience to God’s voice and each time the end result is surprisingly better and greater than I could have imagined. The result of my obedience has then ushered in a new wave of praise and faith that take me farther in my walk with God, and deeper into the security of my own Promised Land!
And here’s me and Nick going in circles, on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin at Disney World last week!!